One Thing Wednesday

5 Practical Alternatives to Complaining

This Wednesday I have a question for you…What if you were one powerful habit away from changing your life?  Breaking the complaining habit has me feeling less stressed and more empowered.

I probably wouldn’t pose such a question if it weren’t for a hesitant agreement I made with a co-worker a few weeks ago.  We decided to take on a 21 Day No Complaint challenge together.  I had a few quivers but thought, “Why not?”

I never imagined it would begin to unravel so many tightly knit negatives in my thinking. 

brush and the toilet paper

After one day of watching my mental dialog, I realized, I absolutely had to commit to this challenge.  Some of the thoughts streaming through my head were sneaky little agitators and oh so subtle.  I could do better.

Complaining serves a purpose for us but not without a cost.  There is a flavorful mix of negativity, tension, and victimhood swirling through the words we think and speak.  Complaining and criticizing create an illusion that something is being done to bring about change, when it’s not.

Maybe a real issue started the mind flowing in an unfavorable direction but continuing on that path will only work to keep us stuck.  We bring about rapid results when we take responsibility for how we reply to the sting of a challenge.

What are some practical alternatives?

The 21 day challenge forced me to find some effective and concrete strategies to replace complaining.  Below are five;

  • Talk about what you do want instead of what you don’t want.
  • Connect with others around positive things rather than problems or negatives.
  • Focus on facts and finding solutions rather than on what’s not working.
  • Accept what is happening/has happened and face the uncomfortable emotions.
  • Focus on what is available and/or abundant rather than what is lacking.

And if none of those work, we could always simply allow ourselves to complain for a while.  Then smile at the whole mess and wait for the next round.

The goal isn’t to be perfect after all:)


Monitor Energy, Rather Than Time


What cleaning the floor unexpectedly taught me about self-care.

I was already in my exercise clothes when I noticed the floor, “Oh my god, it’s filthy.”  I march to the closet and grab the broom thinking “I’m just going to take care of this real quick.”  And two busy hours later, I found myself still working.  The floor cleaning got me picking up dirty socks, which got me doing laundry, which got me wiping the bathroom mirror, and on it went.  My time slipped silently past me and so did my chance for a workout.

At some point, my intention separated from my reality .   Nighttime arrived with a list of uncompleted tasks and one exhausted human.  Another day and I didn’t _____ (meditate, go running, read). Fill in the blank.

How could I feel so deflated? Like I failed even? I worked all day on taking care of things and still I am followed by a shadow of discontent.

The source of my discouragement wasn’t the amount of work I was doing or even a “lack of time” but rather where my energy was going.

When we change the focus to monitoring our energy rather than our time, we feel more on track and fulfilled.

What’s the difference?

Energy is an internal commodity we can direct and maintain.  Time is not.  Time is an external structure, a guide we can use to support our activities.  The concept of time is essential.  It creates an invisible deadline, which gives us a limit.  This bumper pad is valuable and can help keep us moving forward rather than end up in the gutter.

But “time” ignores all of the activities competing for our attention.  These are objects in our way like my dirty kitchen floor or an unexpected phone call or discovering you are out of the capers you need to make dinner.  These forces yank us this way and that, screaming “Look here! Do this…”  This is where regular life messes up our plans for how to spend our time.

When we stop trying to manage our time and start noticing our energy, then we begin to take charge of ourselves.

We begin to base what we are choosing to do on whether or not it fills us up or depletes us.  We each have our own way.  It is as unique as the rhythm of our heartbeat.  Consciously knowing and using this information to construct your day is irreplaceable.

We can actively monitor our energy and respond.  We put energy into our vessel, plug the leaks and stay above water.  Notice when you need a deposit and act accordingly.

So it becomes a simple math problem; energy in=energy out.  Our most basic job is to balance the two sides, but hey, why not tip the scales in the direction of FULL-FILL-ment?  Give yourself permission to make the activities that nurture and replenish you a priority.  This is your source of income and is required for all you plan to do.

All the best,