Blaming and complaining - the story of my life for the first part of my adulthood. If I was talking that's what I was doing. If I was thinking, that's what I was doing. When I was driving alone in the car, I told myself my sad stories. If I wrote a poem, it was a whine. I spent a lot of time on the phone with certain friends who either liked to blame and complain or who were willing to listen to me.
Blaming and complaining gave me a kind of high. Adrenaline surged through me as I tried to make my life better by doing what I thought would work. After awhile though, I would start to feel depressed and tired. So I'd sleep, wake up, and do it all over again the next day.
I had plenty to complain about too. I've never run across anybody that I've told my sad stories to who didn't agree that I had had bad treatment by life and the people in my life. So sad. So true.
On the other hand, my blaming and complaining never changed anything.
When I'd had enough pain and finally asked for help from somebody who was immune from being sucked into my whining, I experienced a continuous series of revelations. I'm still having revelations. The first few were pretty tough to take, but the woman I had asked for help was someone I trusted to know what she was talking about. I could look into her eyes and see it. She was pointing out all the options I had that I didn't know about, and that was all she was doing. At first, though, I felt as if she was saying everything was my fault.
I resisted taking the actions she was suggesting because it felt like admitting everything was my fault. But just like everything else, I finally had suffered enough to try something she suggested. (She used to say sadly, "I guess you haven't hurt enough yet to be willing to change.") When I tried it, it was a simple action but it was me taking responsibility for myself. And it worked! I had some kind of spiritual awakening. Until that moment I had firmly believed that the only solution to someone else's bad behavior was for them to change--preferably along with a groveling apology.
I wish I could say that from that day forward, I stopped blaming and complaining. But that's not what happened. I had to learn over and over again to wrestle with my mental habit of looking outside myself for solutions to the problems that I thought were coming from outside myself. Turns out that both problems and their solutions were all inside me. My perspective; my point of view were the source of them both.
Over time I've had other teachers. One of them said that my blaming and complaining were just symptoms of my effort to not feel the grief of my losses. I've come to believe this is true. Little kids fight when they don't get their way. Sometimes they show it on the outside. Sometimes they hold it in. But we all fight against not getting what we want. For example, for sure what I wanted was for the people I loved to stay on the earth. But some of them have left me here without them. But the blaming and complaining about their loss, is certainly futile and never made me feel one bit better.
A better way, a more grown up way, is to be mindful of my losses. To honor them in my heart by acknowledging the gifts they brought and feel the loss fully. If I do that even for a little while, my grief eventually turns to gratitude and so do my urges to blame and complain.
Monday, November 07, 2016
Unconscious intentions are running through our heads all the time – for most of us we are predicting disasters, trying to read other people’s minds (and assuming they have bad intentions), worrying about the past and wondering how it’s going to negatively affect us today, etc., etc. etc. Since these thoughts/intentions usually cause us to have negative emotions, we act negatively on the negative emotions, and create negative outcomes.
If I get up in the morning assuming I’m not a good person and that bad things are going to happen to me today, bad things will probably happen – or at least I will believe bad things are happening – interpreting neutral events as bad. On the other hand if I “set an intention” - make the effort to consciously decide who I want to be and how I want to act - there’s a very good chance I will have positive outcomes.
Setting healthy, positive intentions:
1. Get clear about something you want and write it down.
2. Share it with someone who will encourage you to take the action to make it happen.
3. Do something today to demonstrate your commitment to taking the action.
1. When you get out of bed, say, “Dear God, I intend to remember all day that I am in your loving care and to remember to be kind and loving to the people in the day. Please help me remember.”
2. When you get in the car, say, “Dear God, I intend to drive safely and remember that I am in your loving care.”
3. Before you get with a friend or family member, say, “Dear God, I intend to spend quality time with ____________and I ask you to help me act in such a way as to make that happen.”
4. Before you go to work, say, “Dear God, I intend to do my part today, to be kind and helpful to the people in my day, and I need your help to carry out my intention.”
5. Before a business meeting, say, “Dear God, I intend to be calm and professional in this meeting and to care about other people’s concerns as well as my own. I intend to be helpful to everyone involved as well as myself. I need your help to carry out these intentions.”
Monitor your thoughts and words: One of the major keys to changing your thoughts is to become aware of them! Most of our thinking is unconscious but by checking in with ourselves, we can notice these thoughts and change them. Noticing when we speak negatively (complaining, blaming, judging, predicting disaster, etc.), will let us know that we are speaking our thoughts. Then we can change what we say. I spend a good bit of time saying, “Oops! I take that back. What I really meant was….” Watch out for words like “hate,” “terrible,” “never,” “always,” “but.” Instead of complaining, get in touch with what you want and set your intention for that! For example, instead of saying, “I hate the food at that place, “you could say, “I love the food at this place. I’d like to go there. Would that be okay with you?”
Take action: Everyone has heard the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s a good example of why it’s necessary to take action as soon as we are totally clear about what intention we want to set. One of the first actions after writing the intention down is to contact someone to share it with whom you can check in to share what happened. By sharing your intention, you solidify your commitment. I also like to wear a particular piece of jewelry to remind myself throughout my day of the actions I intend to take. Every intention needs reminders to help me stay focused on it. Otherwise my mind wanders off in its usual directions that are either negative or have nothing to do with what I intended.
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