We all have areas in our lives that we persistently bitch, moan and complain about. We say we want these areas to be different (“I can’t lose these 20 pounds!” “How come there are no good men out there?” ”I hate my job!”) But alas, these are the areas of life where we just seem STUCK! We have all of our reasons for why we can’t find the time to eat right and exercise, why a good relationship is impossible to achieve, and why we need to remain in a job or career that sucks the life out of us.
Consider the possibility that the source of much of your suffering in your life is YOU! Consider that the reasons you can’t change that which you are chronically complaining about, is because you are buying into a story that your mind convinces you is the TRUTH. We have a voice in our minds, that I call the Inner Critic, that tells us a story about our lives, but convinces us that the story is real. This voice says things like, “If I leave my current relationship, I will be alone forever.” Or “I can’t be happy until I find my true calling.” Not only do we identify with the story of our inner critic, but we also listen to its advice about how to deal with these “truths”. And, usually the way our inner critic has us deal with it is to play it safe unless there is a guarantee that life will turn out exactly the way you want it to.
According to Margie Warrell of www.Forbes.com, “Advances in brain imaging technology have enabled neuro-scientists to prove that we are wired to over estimate the size of risks and under estimate our ability to handle them. Accordingly, our choices are often driven more by a fear of what we don’t want, than a commitment to what we do.” We chronically complain, and yet don’t take action to make changes, because we are afraid to take risks.
Most people don’t know that the reason we are afraid to take risks, and hold on to their complaints, is that they are in some way validating the inner critic’s story. The repetitive, persistent complaints allow you to avoid personal responsibility for some aspect of your life. You get to avoid the uncomfortable, and often scary, work of taking responsibility for why life looks the way that it does. If you take the leap to start a new career, how will you support yourself? Better to just stay put, says the inner critic. To lose those 20 pounds, you might have to look at the emotional reasons why you’re eating in the first place. Better to just keep eating and complaining instead of looking at your pain, says the inner critic. Making changes and taking risks in life is very scary to many people. So scary, in fact, that we would rather find justifications and excuses to stay safe and not risk rejection or failure, than to take action and make a change.
Sometimes, persistent complaints are justifications for the inner critic’s story. For example, if you are someone who has always felt that in some way you are not good enough, then keeping an extra 20 pounds on is a sure-fire way to make sure that you don’t have to risk putting yourself out there with people. Your inner critic convinces you, “once I lose these 20 pounds, I will feel more comfortable about meeting new people.” But, the 20 pounds stay on, because it is too scary to talk with new people, because then they will find out “the truth” that you really aren’t very interesting or don’t have a lot to offer. Or, staying stuck in a safe job, even though it is killing you, seems like a safer idea because, “you really aren’t good enough to be successful anywhere else”, says the inner critic.
Here are 4 steps to break free of your persistent complaints and take action in your life:
1. Write a list of all of the things you repetitively complain about in your life.
2. Make a list of the beliefs, or stories, behind the complaints, that keep you stuck in each of these situations. These stories are part of your identity that comes from the stories that your inner critic has convinced you of for your whole life or what other significant people might have said about you, and you have accepted as the truth. The inner critic LOVES to strengthen itself by complaining. All of the “should’s”, “shouldn’ts”, and “what if’s” of life are really stories that your inner critic has been telling you forever.
3. Catch your inner critic in the act of retelling you your story for the millionth time! Notice the body sensations, emotions, moods, and behaviors you have when you are, once again, listening to this story. Recognize the repetitive, habitual mind chatter that you have heard over and over and over. Pay attention to those thoughts as nothing more than your conditioned, habitual inner critic, who is at it again!
4. Try to see the circumstances in your life as they REALLY are, not through the story attached to the circumstance. It is the story that your inner critic convinces you of, that keeps you stuck in the chronic complaints of your life. The story is NOT THE TRUTH! Separate the facts from the story.
The bottom line is this: Don’t let your life be guided by the story of your inner critic, that you have been believing is the TRUTH. Start noticing where your mind has created fear that keeps you stuck and feeds your chronic, repetitive complaints.