Truth Byte #9: Stop complaining and do something about it.
Ten minutes until appointment time. The room is ready, I am taking my mandatory ten deep breaths to clear my head and get aligned for the next client. Bracing myself as I am about to launch into five more back-to-back counselling sessions, followed by a movie night at the local elementary school and a sleepover at my house. It’s going to be a big day.
The watch ticks on. I post quickly on Facebook to promote my next event in a another city. Tick, tock, tick, tock. It’s time! But she isn’t here. And now she is five minutes late…ten….fifteen, finally we hit the 20 minute lateness mark. This one is going to be a no-show.
Guess God read my mind and fit in a lunch break for me.
But this no-show has got me thinking. Deeply. About complaining. This woman has been calling me for three weeks, complaining about her problem, and this is her second no-show.
She doesn’t know it yet, but she is fired.
She will have some perfectly crafted excuse, and will not realize she is sabotaging herself. She will probably call another counsellor, and go through the same routine all over again. The worse part is not that I fired her as my client without her even realizing it. The worse part is that she is setting herself up to fail.
Complaining is free. There is no investment, aside from the time you are sucking from the poor friend on the other end of your rant. It costs you zero to tell your sob story over and over again. Many people spend years, even decades just complaining. They can tell you the hundred thousand things that are wrong in their lives. But point them in a direction where they could actually do something about it, and no way…they don’t want it.
Many of these complainers are hiding out as self-help junkies. I know this because I used to be one of those disguised complainers. I would devour books and seminars, and join circle after circle feeling sorry for myself, and getting my “poor-me-life-is-so-hard-and-I-am-broke-and-lonely-and-I-am-such-a-good-person-so-why-is-my-life-shit” story validated by nodding heads and comforting pats on the shoulder and one more person would hand me yet another Kleenex as I “let it go”.
But nothing changed.
And that’s when I realized that this wasn’t help at all….it was indulgence. It was my little cry-baby self getting an audience, and finding people to support me in this lie of not having to grow up and take responsibility for the life I created.
Finally, I heard a voice. Not angelic, not revelatory, just plain and to the point, and a little salty. And it said” Yes, bad shit happened when you were a kid. But guess what, sweetheart? You are not a kid anymore.”
Complaining can become a habit. We get used to seeing ourselves as small and broken, and that becomes the story we tell. So even when real help is available, help that could take us to the next level of health, happiness, and connection, we sabotage it, missing meetings, prioritizing “fun” instead of clearing mind-clutter, and putting down the books that actually ask you to do something in-between chapters instead of just funnelling the same old feel-good mantras into your over-saturated, happiness-seeking brain.
Today, I challenge you to stop complaining. Instead, do something that you haven’t tried yet to fix your perceived brokenness. There are professionals who can help you, and immediate changes you can make now instead of complaining for yet another day or week or month. Feeling fat? Stop eating those doughnuts and go for a walk! Feeling broke? Stop flushing your money away on lottery tickets and your mandatory glass of $12 dinner wine! Feeling alone? Call your mom!
It takes effort and time to cross the river of self-doubt and self-attack, but the requirement first is that you DO something. Because let’s face it: nobody likes a whiner.