I have a very old, ingrained habit of complaining. I grew up in a family of complainers. My mother was a martyr’s martyr. I heard “Kwitcherbitchin’!” a lot growing up. Complaining is a lot like smoking cigarettes; it’s great when you’re doing it, and a disgusting habit once you’ve quit. It’s also a really easy habit to pick up again, especially when I’m under stress.
I recently came face to face with myself back in my complaining habit. Nobody else had to point it out. I just came to an awareness that felt a lot like recognizing the smell of stale cigarette smoke on my clothes. I didn’t like it. That stuff is nasty, both the smoke and the complaining.
I made a commitment to myself 8 1/2 years ago to maintain a positive focus in my life. That commitment led to the alienation of all but two of my friends. Complaining must have been the only thing we had in common, because when I stopped complaining most of my friends left. In another analogy, the favorite drinking buddy had enrolled in A.A. and just wasn’t any fun anymore. My old friends went off to find new friends. The irony of addiction is that most people around the addict are very comfortable with the addict being the way they are, and uncomfortable when they change. When the addict changes, they have to find someone else to complain about and attempt to fix. Note: we all have addictions; they just show up in different ways.
I lost a lot of friends. I made new ones. Some of them are still around today, through all my iterations and changes. I’m grateful for each and every patient one of them! With every turn of the spiral I take toward positive focus, I gain a few more positive people. The new friends are wonderful, but even their presence didn’t stop me from backsliding.
Last week, I noticed that I am reliving the same relationship I’ve had with every other significant other (SO) in my life. Well, that sucked. I’m not referring to his behaviors; I’m talking about mine.
I caught myself back in ‘helping’ mode. It isn’t the kind of ‘helping’ I want to be doing. It’s the kind of helping that implies my SO isn’t capable of figuring stuff out for himself. It’s also not malicious; my intentions were good. I tend to run with the belief that if people knew better, they would do better. I was just helping by telling him what could be done better. News Flash: it sounded very similar to complaining. Where it gets even uglier is thinking that I’m the one that knows better.
Aw, crap. Busted. I had been violating my known policy that each of us are our own best experts in our own lives.
One of the things that makes me a great Life Coach is the fact that I am very aware that my clients have their own best answers, even when they are certain that they do not. For whatever reason, that knowing didn’t transfer to my personal life, and bitching set in. I started harping. Rather than get down on myself, I choose to publicly acknowledge myself for noticing and making a commitment to amend the behavior. Thus, the Recommitment to Kwitcherbitchin’!
In the Standards of Presence, I am invited to “Practice a Positive Focus.” I am also invited to “Share in an honoring manner that Celebrates the original person’s Magnificence.” I can’t do either of those things and continue to complain about anything or anyone. The Standards start with Acceptance that I’m doing my best in the moment, and everyone else is, too. Acceptance allows me to gracefully accept that there are changes I need to make.
“It is my intention to” recommit to focusing on the 98% or more of my life that is working, and let the jacked-up 2% of my life have 2% or less of my focus. Whatever I focus on expands. Here’s what I’m focusing on right now: I live in a house with a roof on top. My cat is an awesome companion. My SO has a really good heart and the best of intentions. There are so many people in my life who love me and are grateful for me. I get to eat really healthy food. I am privileged to live on the water. I have a computer to write with, pens and paper, paint and canvases, and a ton of other outlets for my creativity. I own a Mercedes, an iPhone, and enough kitchen gadgets to create nearly any culinary delight I can think of. I don’t have to pay an electric bill. I am the creator of my life, work when I want to, play when I want to, and do all of that only with people I want to.
Shit. I’m blessed! Right about now, I’m jealous of me! (I was jealous of someone in a Mercedes the other day, and nearly fell out of my car laughing when I remembered I was driving one, too.) It’s a good day when you can be jealous of you!
Here’s today’s invitation: Focus on positive stuff and count your blessings today, would you?
Extra points if you can count so many blessings that you’re jealous of you!
Feel free to share your blessings in the comments below!