I am on a spiritual path. Whether we, as a society know it or not, we are all on one. Therein lies the dilemma. My husband and most of my friends are very self-aware, making an effort to think positive and create the kind of life they want. However, I often find myself saying yes to an invitation from someone whose primary hobby is complaining.
I get it. I used to be that person. I spent most of my life complaining about traffic, rude people, my job, money problems – the list goes on and on. However, as I mentioned, I am on a spiritual path and I have realized that I do not want to live that way anymore. The reason that I do not want to live as a chronic complainer anymore is because I do not feel good when I am living in an angry, negative space. It makes me feel bad, saps my energy, and drags me down. It also makes me get sick. Years ago, I got sick a lot. Today, I am rarely sick. Living as a chronic complainer also repels happy positive relationships. Happy, joyful people do not want to be around chronic complainers.
What I am now realizing is that I have a very hard time listening to chronic complainers. In viewing their complaints through new eyes, what I see in their complaining is that they are simply affirming and reaffirming the same things in their lives. They are reinforcing constant themes of illness, relationship problems, financial worries, etc. No wonder nothing has changed for them. They have not changed, so why should their circumstances change? Ever hear the old saying “Wherever you go, there you are?”
When you focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want, you open yourself up to all sorts of wonderful possibilities. Your imagination is then free to create circumstances that energize and motivate you to achieve them. You become an active creator in your future, rather than an antagonistic complainer. Consider one person who complains about work every day, focusing on what they hate about their job. Another person does not particularly like their job either, but instead of complaining, imagines what they want instead. This person visualizes positive change in their mind and now has the motivation to start making the necessary changes in order to reach this goal. Five years later, which person do you think is still in the same unsatisfying job?
For me, I am realizing that I have such a hard time listening to chronic complainers because I am afraid of them. Basically, I am afraid that I will “catch it” and become infected with negativity. Yes, I am afraid of falling back into my old habits and joining in with the complaining. I am afraid that I am not strong enough in my faith to stay positive, even though I know in my heart that complaining makes me feel bad both physically and emotionally.
As I write, I am reminded of a wonderful TED Talk that my sister sent me. The Magic of Not Giving a F*** by Sarah Knight. In her talk Sarah shares her realization that she does not want to spend time, energy, and money on people and activities that do not add to her life or give her joy.
If someone is sapping my strength and spreading negative energy, I have every right to stay away from them. If I do not want to go to lunch with a complainer, I have every right to decline the invitation. I do this as a gift to myself and to my well-being. So the next time a chronic complainer asks for your ear, it’s ok to say that you have made other plans.