Caught Myself Complaining

Call me Goldilocks, I think I complain a lot in spring. I just caught myself complaining about the chilly and damp weather, yet I know that last year I complained about the lack of a slow warm up to summer.

In fairness, it has been chilly this spring, but come on, Hecht! Rain is NORMAL for this season; April showers bring May flowers and all that. And, sheesh, I actually enjoy a rainy day. I also know that once summer arrives, it’s just hot for a good long while, so what am I complaining about?!? YUCK. Here’s what I’m really not liking about catching myself in the dissatisfaction act: This feeling of not being able to enjoy what is here right now.

This example of seasonal-related griping can be a metaphor for, well, pretty much anything. It’s normal to forget what we enjoyed or didn’t about a time of year, as well as a phase of life, some experience or interaction. I mean, when it’s been raining for days on end after a particularly grey winter, for example, it’s normal to be grumpy about it and start to complain.

And let’s be honest, you’d have to be a special kind of human–I know they exist–to be thanking the rain for all its benefits on its 20th day in a row when you’re sloshing around, dreaming about the sun and bright days. But the plain truth is that all this grumbling and griping can really bring a person down. It’s demoralizing, defeating and can even have a productivity crushing side-effect. YUCK again!!

Full disclosure, I also just watched Brene Brown’s Netflix special, “The Call to Courage”, in which she talks about the power of gratitude in helping to be more fully joyful and less fatalistic. I rewatched that section several times, it really struck me and stuck with me. I’m a cynic, so this means I’m generally not really a ‘hashtag gratitude’ kind of a person or coach. But though a cynic, I’m also a positive person and as such try to focus on the bright side of things in my life, even when they may actually just be bummers. This is what keeps me moving forward, and frankly, it just feels better to me.

And this is, in my opinion, the value of working on a more positive mindset. It simply feels better. The weather is one example, but apply this to your difficult co-worker or your boss, your commute to work, the broken appliance you count on, the beloved friend or partner who didn’t follow through on their word, the dog or cat that’s barfing, you name it. This is not the same as being Pollyanna about things, and I do think it’s important to be real about what is present and painful for you. I’m just suggesting it’s helpful to not get swept away on a wave of negativity.

And I also know it’s not easy, here’s a trick I use to this day: When I was working towards my license in clinical social work in California, I worked with many clients, gaining experience in an agency. I had little control over my sometimes difficult and complex cases and often struggled with the work itself. A mentor coached me to find one thing about each new client I could like or appreciate, even if it were teeny tiny. That if I could do so, then I was on my way to building a successful client-therapist rapport. Sometimes it wasn’t easy, but I don’t believe I ever found myself feeling unable to find the one thing from which a bridge could be built.

I apply this tool to many things and relationships in my life to this day. It’s my non-cheesy little way to find my way to #gratitude. Find a way to get present with the one positive thing.

Can you find one positive thing to focus on, one up-side to an otherwise blech-y or crap-tacular experience? Even if it’s super tiny, it’s a great place to start.
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