When you were a kid did you think—when I grow up I’m going to whine and complain about my life and blame everyone else for my own issues? Of course not. This is something you try on, decide it fits and then you wear it. Pretty soon it’s your uniform. Eventually it becomes everything you stand for and you start to cling to it like a 40 year old man wearing his painfully tight, cracked leather high school football jacket every day. You don’t see how weird it looks, but everybody else does. In other words, we get so wrapped up in our drama and story about being hard done by, that we are deaf and blind to everything else. We miss the little whispers that try to nudge us towards the possibilities and to grab opportunities. Take a moment to ask: are you fixated on how everyone makes your life harder instead of figuring out how to make yourself happy?
What does it take to throw away that old school jacket? It takes courage. You decide that you’re going to open your eyes and ears to what you’ve been doing. This is like looking close-up at a rat in daylight—it’s ugly and frightening and it makes you want to run. If you decide not to, you can always wait for other people to step in (not recommended).
Let’s take my life for example. I was about nineteen when my friends sat me down and told me that I was acting like a real pain in the ass. Talk about a WTF moment. Apparently, I was a walking/breathing complaint dressed like negative nelly. They couldn’t take it anymore. I still remember the shock, pain and humiliation that came with this intervention. I’m not going to pretend that I took it well. I was an emotional mess, but eventually I came to terms with what was being offered to me: a chance to live a happier, more authentic life. Are you ready to chuck that jacket?
Here are some steps you can take today to rid yourself of behaviours and patterns that stand in the way of a relationship with your True Self. To let YOU come through so that you can experience more joy and happiness:
This is the starting point:
- Make a decision that enough is enough.
You’re ready to make some changes in your behaviour.
- Feel the feelings that will come up with this decision.
Don’t judge them. Allow them to surface and leave your body.
- Realize that you’ve made every single choice to get you to where you are today.
Accept this with compassion and love yourself anyway, no matter what.
Exercise for Victim Consciousness
Write down two situations where you feel that life was unfair to you. That somehow you ended up there through circumstances beyond your control. With each situation, imagine that you had fully intended to end up there. What would you have done to make sure that you ended up in those situations? Write out the two ways you bravely made choices in your life, whether you recognized them or not—title these your “best choices I made at the time”. Keep the exercise as a reminder of how you can make choices and to show you that you are in charge of your life. If you ever feel that life has plopped you down into the middle of a landmine, go back and re-read what you wrote.
Exercise for Chronic Complaining
Write out your top five complaints of all time. Are they about what other people are doing or not doing? Cross out anything that is not directly about you. What can you do today to start improving the complaints that involve only you? Write out three steps you can take to change them and start doing them!
If there are only complaints about other people and their behavior or actions, remember that we can’t change other peoples’ behavior. Re-word the complaints in a way that reflects how you feel but doesn’t blame the other person. Re-name the list of complaints to concerns. Then take your new approach to the streets! Express your concerns to whoever it is in a calm and kind manner; make sure the other party is willing to sit down and listen. For example, the complaint could be “My husband always criticizes me”. You could reword it to say, “When you tell me that I don’t listen, it hurts my feelings, because I feel that I do listen. Can you tell me more about that?” Have this conversation over a coffee in the backyard or on a walk. Material based on the soon to be released book: “What Would Little Red Riding Hood Do? 7 Ways to Face Your Wolf and Live Happily Ever After” Eleanor Healy