Wash, Rinse, Repeat


Did you catch my last post where I talked about how to get started breaking through the barriers that impact your freedom? If not, you can find the link to it here. Meanwhile, I’m keeping my thoughts on freedom rolling in today’s post.

Here’s another barrier that’s coming up quite a bit lately for clients: Complaining. Listen, we all do it. Ahem, I refer you back to the piece I wrote about catching myself doing it. But the thing about complaining is, it’s just not helpful. Complaining is actually not only unproductive, but also a total mood-killer. It fuels a sense of disempowerment and can leave us feeling trapped. The very opposite of freedom. Am I right?

I also know that the complaining cycle is one that’s hard to break. For those of us who work in offices, it can be part of the socializing; it’s mindless, and can feed on itself. Sure, it can also be a big part of the collegial bonding, and in that way feels important and also unalterable. I know that when I worked in an office, we had a routine: Come to work, migrate to the break room for coffee, talk about the bosses and their unreasonable expectations, talk about the impossible workloads. We would routinely kill 20-30 minutes, then do it again at a mid-morning break, and then again at lunch. Wash, rinse, repeat. We can all get caught up in the “everyone does it – I don’t want to be left out – what harm does it do?” experience at work. In reality, complaining does a lot of harm and chief among the damage? It keeps you stuck.

This is not to say you paint a pretty picture about what’s difficult, pretend it’s all ok, and just suck it up. Not at all. That’s a recipe for disaster. But complaining and actual work towards change are not the same thing, not even a little. Complaining often is about grinding around on the same spot, rehashing and retelling — it can be gratifying in the moment and feel like a pressure release, but it’s not particularly solution focused.

When you find yourself in a complaining loop, ask yourself: Is there an action I can take that can effect a change in my circumstances? Come up empty? In that case try: Is there an action I can STOP taking to effect a change? Sometimes the answer is as simple as: Stop Complaining. This is not meant to be harsh : ) . It’s meant to encourage you to give yourself some space in your mind from the repetitive soundtrack that complaining can occupy. This soundtrack can get so noisy, it can drown out all the possibilities you may want to consider for making change.

And also, if you really find a complaint session to be necessary, may I suggest: Set a timer. Find a trustworthy complaint partner who will keep your confidence, and go ahead and indulge yourself, but be sure to keep it to a tight timeline.  This will help you blow off steam, but will also keep you off a repeating loop of wash, rinse, and repeat complaining. 

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