I came to a harsh realization the other day. I complain a lot. Like a lot.
Not only do I complain a lot but my complaints cause me a heavy amount of stress. The tiniest things that other people do can irk me — especially if they are going about something in a way that I believe may not be of the most competent fashion (I digress). This unsettling feeling usually leads me to launch into a series of tirades with whoever is nearby. I spend a large amount of energy on petty situations.
I didn’t have this epiphany on my own. It took a few prodding from friends for me to consider the way that I had been creating (yes, creating) stress in my life and allowing it to seep over into various relationships. My complaints had become toxic.
It hit me the other day when I had let a missed phone call from a friend spark a perfunctory decision to cut said friend out of my life. I had finally come to my senses – or so I had thought – that I was investing more of my time into our friendship than she was and it was time for her to get the boot. A one-second situation (which was truly caused by her having an extremely busy schedule that day) had blown itself into a larger question about our friendship all due to my whining.
I had spent my whole day ruminating about the issue. To every single friend in my cell contact list.
It wasn’t until I was in the middle of the story with one of my closest friends when she blurted, “Girl, don’t you think you’re taking this a little bit out of context? Sounds like you’re just complaining again.”
Complaining. Again. The words hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember quickly rushing off the phone with a “you’re right” and feeling my heart sink low in my chest.
Damn it, did I really complain that much? Was I really a chronic worrywart? When I finally got real with myself and reflected on my week I realized that I sure enough was worrying a lot about nothing.
I was letting way too many people bring stress into my life by allowing myself to worry about them. I had let the postman piss me off when he refused to go past the third floor in my apartment. I had let my roommates piss me off when they had forgotten to wash the dishes from the night before. I had allowed my co-workers to piss me off when they started acting presumptuous during the day and passing off their tasks to me (like they weren’t my equals).
I had let all these people that don’t really matter create so much anxiety and anger inside me. I was shocked at how petulant I had become. But more importantly, I discovered that perhaps I was really starting to lose my shit.
No, not in a she’s gone bat-shit crazy type of way. But in a hyperactive type of way. I had been allowing stress to seize my life, take hold of it like a stubborn leach that sucks every last drop of blood out of your skin. I was creating my own anxiety, multiplying it each day by placing too much weight on trivial matters — thus, wasting valuable time in my day that I could have used to be productive.
I was losing my shit for sure. And I decided it was time to do something about it.
In fact, I hope you’ll join me in doing something about it. You see, months ago I fell in love with the “Possibility of Today” website. The site owner had made a promise to herself to stop complaining and to use her time to maximize productivity in her days. She stuck with it for 40 days and it seems she’s gained access to a type of happiness that we all want in our lives.
I realized that in order for me to change my life for the better I’d have to kick this booger habit of mine. I’d have to tie up my lips and stop complaining. That doesn’t mean I’m letting anyone walk all over me like a dusty old welcome mat. Nor does it mean I can’t express my frustrations from time to time. But I’m settling for more stress-free days and a fuller life. Which means less ass-talking and more fast-walking.
Won’t you begin this journey with me? Make a pact to stop complaining about things. It’s that simple.
How will I stick to my promise? How am I going to keep myself from falling off the bandwagon?
By having my friends call me out on it. Each time they think I’m whining or complaining about something that’s irrelevant to my life, they’re going to let me know. Why? Because I asked them. Hey, every troubled soul needs a support group.
I’m also not letting myself off the hook too easy, either. I’m holding myself accountable and you should too. If I do slip up, I’m going to write the complaint down on one side of paper and use the other side to write down a positive reflection of why that situation isn’t so bad after all. Things could be worse – and what I’ve come to know is that the more that a person complains the less grateful they become. If I am only able to see the negative aspects of life (as big or small that they may be), how am I able to be grateful for the blessings that I already have? How am I able to see the silver linings in the clouds? How am I able to envision possibilities if I’m so quick to be pessimistic?
That’s not a full life. That’s an empty one.
[Tweet “You can’t live a rich life if you’re only counting pennies.”]
I’m hoping this pact is a step towards regaining control of my happiness. Of learning to let go of the little things. Of taking each day one at a time. But most importantly, I know it will make me a better person. And I can’t wait to see what type of woman I become because I was willing to sit down and get real with myself.
Here’s to this six-week challenge. Are you ready to live a fuller life?