May Challenge: No Complaining

Apologies for saying I’d post Tuesday about my May goal and then just leaving you hanging! It’s been a busy week and as a bit of a continuation of last month’s challenge, I ended up prioritizing sleeping over staying up to blog. I can’t say I really regret that decision :)

When I introduced my April challenge of sleeping eight hours a month, it was in part because I’ve been so slammed at work that I wasn’t taking time to rest. (Or, more recently, that I was waking up in the middle of the night and stressing about work.) But the other side effect of all the stress that I’ve been under is that I’ve noticed myself becoming more and more negative in my outlook. It had gotten to a point where I couldn’t get through my day without venting to someone about something that didn’t go my way. While venting can certainly be therapeutic, I was venting a lot more frequently than is probably healthy, and a lot of that venting was probably taking the place of actual problem-solving. So… how about a month of positivity?

Complaining_Doesnt_Make_You_A_Martyr

So true, so true.

For the month of May, I am going to (slowly) try to reduce my complaints from constant to few and far between. This week has definitely been a rocky one in terms of getting going on that, but yesterday I had the opportunity to read a few articles on the topic, and that got me excited to really try my best. It is not going to be an easy month, I know, but I also think this is a really worthwhile goal and I really can’t go wrong with attempting it.

Even though I didn’t post my April recap until Monday May 2, I did attempt to stop complaining on May 1. Unfortunately, I’ve had very limited success so far. I’ve caught myself complaining dozens of times a day, often noticing mid-complaint what I’m doing… but not really knowing how to stop the conversation from there. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to try just sharing my goal with my family, friends, and coworkers, and asking for their help in policing what I say to make sure it’s positive and complaint-free.

Where I have been successful so far is with an approach of following up the (many) complaints that slip through with positivity, kind of like this WebMD article on someone who tried to stop complaining for a week:

“But when I was watching TV with my daughter, we saw an ad for The Biggest Loser — and I couldn’t help saying, “I don’t see how anyone can watch this show.” Normally, my kids and I bond over criticizing TV. But now this was just another negative statement, so I added, “On the other hand, I’ve never seen it! Maybe it’s great!” My daughter rolled her eyes.”

Hopefully the people in my life won’t get as fed up with my positivity as this woman’s family did with her!

I did find her account helpful though – I like the idea of first trying to notice all the complaints, and then worrying about stopping them. Per this article from Fast Company on reducing complaining, I might even start a complaint tracker to try to identify the things that get me riled up enough to complain, which I could then use to avoid the bad influences that trigger complaining? It’s late tonight and I want to get to bed ASAP, but maybe tomorrow I’ll get that going. (As a side note, that article made me feel a lot better when the woman profiled said that she was up to hundreds of complaints after just two to three hours. I was getting pretty down on myself for how often I do complain, so it was nice to feel like I’m not alone.)

Tonight after flying home to Colorado, I went to my first meeting of a women’s Bible study group in my neighborhood. Even if I were allowed to complain about it, I would say that it was fantastic :) There were six of us who all live in the neighborhood, and everyone else was incredibly welcoming and friendly, making me feel like part of the group right away. At the end of the discussion, our leader asked us all to share something in our life we’d like the group to pray for help with, and I shared my no-complaining goal. Everyone was so supportive, and we talked about how easy it is to fall into a trap of negativity – even about things that are trivial and won’t be remembered hours later. As with that Fast Company article, it made me feel better to hear that others struggle with the same thing. One woman even remarked that she had found coming to this group twice a month had really changed her to be more positive. So maybe I’m taking a step in the right direction already!

I know that venting can be a good way to release tension, so I don’t foresee myself never complaining ever again. But that’s never been the point of my monthly challenges – I intend for them to be more like experiments than as rules to live by. When I undertook my sleep challenge last month, I didn’t foresee myself always getting eight hours of sleep a night forever, either. I’m looking at this no complaining challenge as a chance to push the positivity to the extreme, but in June, I’ll go somewhere back to the middle. (Kind of like how people undertake a juice cleanse as a reset but don’t plan to just drink juice for the rest of their lives.) I’m hoping that trying to avoid complaining altogether for a month will help me to start both seeing the bright side of things and problem solving the things for which there is no bright side, a la tip #2 in this article from Lifehack.

Looking forward to a great, positive month ahead!

…And only 25 days until I can complain about how much it sucks to not complain. ;)

Comments

  1. What a perfect month for testing out a no-complaining strategy: The month of May, the springtime of renewal, when every emerging sprout and bud gets to start anew and then dazzle at the end in all its glory. This challenge holds so much promise…you can be sure I’ll be there to catch you when you “fall.” HeHe! :) I expect you’ll do me the favor, likewise! :)

  2. Holy Guacamole, only because I still have your cake on my mind and I can’t wait to attempt to make it but this post just literally slapped me in the face. I was at lunch with one of my closest friends yesterday who said what happened to your motto of #PowerOfPositiveThinking? You’re always one to be positive but lately anytime we talk you always are complaining rather then finding a solution. So for the rest of the day I kept replaying our conversation in my head. I know this is something I need to work on, but these past few months have really tested me as a person as a whole.

    I just saved those articles and plan to read them later this evening as well as ask my friends and family to catch me. My friend already did and I am grateful she pointed this out as well as this post.

    Hope your challenge goes well for you. Look forward to your recap at the end of the month.

    • It is REALLY tough to go cold turkey; I’m averaging a few complaints per day. This week I’m going to focus on trying to track every single time I do complain rather than being more lax about it.

    • Complaining. Hhmmm…Laura, are you really a bad person if you complain? Would some people thing you complain too much while others may have a different perspective?

      What if, instead of being frustrated that complaining is so easy to do, we adopted the strategy of humor? What if you said to yourself before or during or after you complained and said, “Well, geez Laura, there I go complaining again, may as well go make it a big one this time, I mean, you know you just love to complain!!”

      Maybe you don’t catch yourself complaining everytime that you complain, but maybe you catch yourself once a day and then laugh about your tendency to complain. How often would you need to laugh at yourself before you naturally didn’t want to complain? 3? 6? 20 times?

      Maybe it would work. Maybe it wouldn’t. But I guess my point is this: I don’t think its necessarily healthy to beat yourself about something that…..while maybe it isn’t the best thing in the world, isn’t really the worst thing ever either.

      Anyway, I hope to write a longer article about this in a week or so. :)

    • Humor has definitely become a big part of my not-complaining-strategy, in that sometimes I’ll say something over-the-top positive about something REALLY not positive and people laugh because they realize I’m trying not to be negative :) (E.g., “I’m so glad that those cars are blocking the way and going so slowly; they are so generous to prevent me from getting a speeding ticket!” Looking forward to your article on the topic.

    • :)

      Yeah. I read that comment – from one of the weekly recaps, right?

      But I think we both know that the state of mind of using humor or traditional complaining (in regard to having the right of way limited on the highway) is the same – and its not the act of complaining you really care about, but the overall state of mind we keep!

    • Exactly – I want to be a more positive, optimistic person.

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