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Soulful Sundays: No Complaints

“I have always found that actively loving saves one from a morbid preoccupation

with the shortcomings of society.” - Alan Paton

"To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” - Eckhart Tolle

Events that happen in our lives have two possible interpretations -- they either happen to us, or they happen for us. The former is a pathway toward confusion and victimhood. The latter is the very essence of transformation and personal growth. Our development into adults (and a mature human society) is dependent on us learning our responsibility in choosing the future. That decision starts right now.

Do a personal inventory of your last few days of existence. How often did your thoughts drift toward the negative elements of your life? Don't be surprised if that number feels quite high. Humans have an evolutionary established negativity bias in which, even if negative thoughts are in the minority, their weight is 3-5 times higher than their positive counterparts. The crucial element is how you respond to your negative thoughts.

A complaint is only a complaint if it is expressed without any interest in finding a solution. Complaining in this fashion is an offloading of responsibility to the attentive party (a pattern that we learned in childhood when our agency and language skills were insufficient). As we gain function and competence, however, complaining usually diminishes...unless it supports a pattern of victimhood that is crucial to our identity. When this is the case an active approach is necessary to uproot the habit.

Varying degrees of helplessness are present in all of us, and often we are blind to them. This blindness is precisely why other people are necessary foils to our shortcomings, and, here, complaining can actually be useful. It can serve as an early alert for victimhood. As you move through this week actively make note of when you engage in complaint-like behavior. This includes spoken/written words, as well as thoughts and gestures. Consider keeping a tally to track your complaints.

Our fragile egos would much rather create excuses for our shortcomings than take responsibility for changing them. Another modus operandi of the ego is to become distracted or procrastinate instead of tackling difficult work. Looking outward (on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram) for solutions to our inward suffering is a recipe for disappointment. The subconscious mind will always know when we are ignoring the truth or when we haven't put in the effort we are capable of doing.

A fun challenge is to try to go a full week without complaining. Put a rubber band or wristwatch on your right hand to remind you to stop complaining. Switch it over to the left if you fail to do so. Reset it at the dawn of each day. Again, complaints aren't bad if they have solutions attached to them. This is a subtle way to begin shaping the brain to see reality for what it really is -- incredibly malleable with the right attitude.

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