Challenge Day 4: Being Peaceful

In the past few days of giving up complaining and making requests, I’ve had many chances to grumble and complain.  Because of my commitment, though, every time I got that sinking feeling in my stomach, I have stopped myself and asked, “what do I need to request?”  The frustration lurking at the edges of mind would flare up and, just as easily, would dissolve, as I stuck to my guns and just asked for what I needed.

I was on a roll until my bestie pointed out that I really don’t complain that much and I needed a deeper challenge.  Oh dear.  She knows me well.  I have long since given up the right to whine my days away and blame other people for my misery, so complaining is not the usual theme song of my life.  When I start complaining and won’t stop, my bestie knows “there’s something fishy here”.  She knows something’s up and it needs to be worked through.  I make my bestie’s job of supporting me pretty easy with all this transparency.

I’d been making great strides asking for things, then the bestie says “Show me something I haven’t seen you already do.”  Trust her to challenge my challenges.  She is a blessing.

Then we hit on something:  My complaining may be inconsistent but my anxiety is a constant.  Is he going to call?  Why doesn’t he love me?  What did I do?  What if I like him?  What if he doesn’t like fill in the blank?  Will it ever be better?  What do I do?  I have to fix this, you, me us.

While I’m not always vocal about it, concern is often in the background.  It doesn’t stop me from doing what I commit to doing.  I’m well-trained in doing things I’d rather not do but know make the difference between an ordinary life and one worth living (for me).  That often involves being afraid and taking action anyway.  I’m an emotional, conversational bungee-jumper that way.

The opportunity for me now is take on giving up the concerns moment by moment.  They will come up and I give them the same credence as burps: here one moment and then gone.

Today’s challengeBe peaceful.  Give up the interpretation of “there’s something wrong here”.

Peacefulness is a natural place to examine after giving up complaining, so here I am.  It takes “no complaining and asking for what I want” and ups the ante.  What would life be like if I let things pass over me and through me?  So, today I’m adding “being peaceful” to the challenge pot and I’ll let it take me where it takes me.

Please note that my challenges aren’t ruled by abstinence.  “No complaining” really isn’t “being complaint-free” per se.  It’s more like letting the complaint knock on your door and not opening your mind to it.  Being peaceful is a constant opening for me to bring peace to things no matter what.  That involves faith which is quite inconsistent in my life.  I’ll keep you posted!

Today’s victory: Had a difficult conversation with someone where I had to keep pulling back from the complaint and ask her for what I needed and tell her why.  She kept hitting me with “what are you doing?”  to which I responded even though I normally would have told her off.  I had to keep going to the request and what it would provide instead of the reaction.  “Yes or no?  Can you do this so that it can do this for me?” asked kindly, respectfully and persistently.  This person, who I see as intractable, after rebuffing me, agreed.  It continues to work!

Gratitude: I am grateful for the incredible insights and actions that are shaping me into the person that I am today.

On the horizon: A beginner’s mind

Challenge Day 3: Complaining’s Nature

There is no day more perfect than the day after midterm elections to examine complaining one more time. Yesterday was Super Tuesday (or is that only for presidential elections?) and today is Complainer Wednesday. The grumbling, whining, kvetching can be heard as far as Alaska. On a day where bemoaning results whether your people won or not, let’s look at yesterday’s challenge and how it evolved into today’s.

Yesterday, I took on giving up complaining and making requests instead. For me, that challenge heavy enough to warrant a second go-round today.

Today’s challenge: Give up complaining and really ask for what you want.

As you can see from all the post-election rhetoric, complaining is an intrinsic part of American–if not human–society. No complaining these last two days gives me a deeper sense into the nature of complaining and the role it plays in my (and maybe your) life.

Complaining is a smokescreen

I noticed today that complaining is one of the ways we Jedi mind-trick ourselves into believing we’re in action when we’re doing absolutely nothing to affect the situation. We give an unfavorable weather report with no intention of putting up an umbrella.

When we complain, we seem to get away with not liking a thing, doing absolutely nothing about and pretending that the complaining changed something. Even a basic “complaint letter” to an airline works best when, after outlining the offense, you request they take actions to amend said transgression. Focusing on what’s not working gets you more not working. A request will move you past it regardless of whether the request is fulfilled. The request breaks the cycle of illusory inaction.

Not complaining makes me listen

When I’m not constantly looking for what’s wrong, I have to listen. Listening, especially when I have an opinion about something can be scary. When I listen I am frightened that I will forget my position & won’t get what I want.

You know how you have to fight for everything, right? Wrong. Fighting begets more fighting. Giving up the fight goes against the skilled verbal pugilist who can eviscerate with a few precise words that I have trained myself to be. I no longer can take pleasure in hurting when I feel hurts. Listening negates the fight and for some reason, I win.

No complaining is peaceful

When you give up complaining, you’re left with finding a solution or just being bothered less. If you’re committed to not complaining, you can’t latch on to things in the same way. Things become less annoying…Interesting.

No complaining may affect your relationships

When you stop complaining, you may realize there are some friends that you now have nothing to say to. Your only connection was the trauma share. Now that you’ve committed to patching up your usual oozings, you have no relationship. At least not that way anymore. Create a new one.

So…giving up complaining has me be more forgiving and compassionate and a better listener. I’ll take 2 scoops of that!

Today’s victory: I was able to listen to a distressed friend and instead of fixing her or telling her not to complain, I was able to ask her the questions she needed to hear so she could save herself.

Gratitude: I am thankful for the people who believe in me when I do not and remind me of my greatness.

On the horizon: A no complaining bracelet and my adventures in NaNoWriMo!

How’s your challenge going?