Bitching and moaning, complaining, venting. Virtually everyone does it, and in some circles (at work, in a coffee klatch, a group of girlfriends, drinks after work on Friday) it’s encouraged and accepted as a way to bond. Complaining about how much things cost, the weather, how your latest health crisis has sapped your resources, and what a bristle-headed toady your boss REALLY is, is water-cooler fodder the world over. What’s wrong with letting off a little steam?
(photo: David/Daviddb cc-by-sa-2.0 license; wikimedia)
The problem is, that complaining is seen as a “negative” expression of victim consciousness, a bring-down and an affirmation of “can’t” thinking that just reinforce the negative scripting we have about ourselves and other people. Especially in a New-Age conscious society, complaint is seen as an undesirable assault on ‘The Secret’ Law of Attraction/Positive Thinking. In fact, there are even groups who promote a “Complaint Free World” and many people are jumping on the bandwagon.
It’s not just the new-age, MANY of us have been trained since childhood to not complain, to not make a fuss. All this consciousness makes a good bitch-fest a guilty indulgence or worse, a sense of personal failing when we can’t reach Zen-like states of equipoise. One of the greatest myths about “positive” thought is that the goal is to be marching through life in a constant state of exuberant happiness, joy, grace and calm.
Happiness in life is NOT a blissed out state of Zen 24-hours a day, it’s not doing jumping jacks of glee or feeling pumped up on joyous endorphins all the time. The goal (if there is one) is closer to the ability to experience all of your emotions, happiness, sadness, fear, anger, without JUDGMENT, allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel with a peacefulness that underlies all of your possible reactions. If you can actually feel your own feelings and not get stuck in the judgment, repression or reaction to them, you can connect to YOURSELF and you can link your mind and choices to the next step instead of just to the complaint.
If you’re being blissful because you want to impress your spiritual friends with your calm or because you think you’re doing the right thing for the Law of Attraction, you might just be secretly AVOIDING the validity of your feelings by repressing them:
“Oh fudge-cake! I just dropped an anvil on my foot! Oh blessings! I’m grateful to have feet.”
Come on now, be honest! If we try to shoehorn ourselves into GRATITUDE, our legitimate feelings might feel repressed somewhere down the line and resurface later in a bigger, nastier compliant.
A conscious complaint moves from Fact to Grace without letting projections, judgments and cover-ups destroying your ability to then ACT or resolve the issue. ( When fact and feelings leave off, negative Ego fills in the blanks. )
Start with the fact and the honest experience of emotion: “OUCH!!!! That really hurt. I didn’t like that anvil falling on me at all. I’m going to have a good cry!” it’s only then, when you admit and experience your actual feeling that you can move to your own nurturing solutions and actions; “I’m going to take good care of my foot while it heals and learn from that experience. Note to self: Don’t dangle Anvil out of second story-window!” Gratitude is wonderful, but it’s distance from the wounded Ego that allows you to experience it legitimately. “I’m glad I didn’t lose my foot! In fact… I’m really happy that my feet have done so many nice things for me over the years. Even after those prom shoes that were 2 sizes too small.”
An unconscious complaint is complaint for the sake of complaint. Ego takes over where feelings have been abandoned or where facts leave off; “DAMN IT! An Anvil fell on me… of COURSE. This always happens to me. Nothing good ever happens. I mean AN ANVIL FELL ON ME!!!!! Who does that happen to? Nobody but the Road-Runner. And me. Because I suck, because the world is unfair, and because everything around me is pure sh*t.”
Notice how there are more negative projections and more assumptions, dark stories and suppositions in that complaint above than there are actual FEELINGS from the present moment?
NOT complaining and holding on to your gripes, may be another way of holding on to your emotions and not letting them be felt. But make no mistake about it though, you can’t stop with “Feelings” even authentically felt ones. The therapeutic benefit to venting is to blow off steam so that you can keep moving forward and having new emotional and real-life experiences.
(c) Brilliance in Sight/Willow 2010