How often do you express (with others or yourself) how you are feeling about the experience you are having? It could be your morning, your day, a meeting, a moment, or the week... Do you communicate what you're excited about, what is irking you, or both? Perhaps you're wondering if I'm referring to some touchy-feely form of constant communication and checking in about your feelings with others. While developing an internal emotional gauge has certainly helped me enhance my attitude, to create and attract more of what I desire, I'm asking you to explore what emotions you communicate most often (whether to others or to yourself under your breath) and how. Do you frequently complain or possess a positive attitude full of appreciation?
The other day I saw an interesting segment on television about a group in Kansas City, Missouri, who committed to minimize their complaining. They distributed special bracelets to each member of the organization; hence, whenever a person complains, they must move their bracelet from one wrist to the other wrist. By correlating a physical task with the complaint, they increased their awareness of when they complain, as well as gaining the ability to assess the frequency of their habit. They were encouraged to use the art of appreciation to deter them from complaining under the notion that complaining does not serve them in their lives or contribute to anything constructive.
Upon beginning the task, various members of the group were incredibly surprised to discover how often they complain. What surprised me most was the reaction of a therapist who, instead of being in support of what appears to be a positive and noble effort, or providing some sort of additional insight, expressed that she believes some people need to complain in order to "get through" their lives...
Hmmm... I'm not sure about you, but I strive for life to be much more than a treadmill workout I'm enduring. While complaining does not appear to serve a person in manifesting the life experience they desire; is a person that complains simply being ungrateful? Conversely, is a person that is always grateful, choosing not to complain about that which they find dissatisfying, living in a state of ignorance or escapism? Is the whole scope of appreciation and dissatisfaction so black and white a notion?
While many of us were taught to perceive issues, behaviors and dilemmas as black and white, the majority of life is lived within the shades of grey. So often we discuss concepts like these from the perspective of each one being mutually exclusive of the other. Rather than looking at the two as extremes, we have an awesome opportunity to explore and seize the value of all that lies between complaining and appreciation in a way that serves our greatest good. In other words, we can extract the perceived value of each to come up with a behavior or action that creates results and positive transformation.
People enjoying a discussion can possess a similar view, yet because of differences in their specific interpretations or use of words and phrases, may not grasp how in harmony they actually are. For clarification, consider complaining as verbally expressing that which you are dissatisfied with. In this example, the act of complaining has no goal attached to it; it is a stand-alone act.
Similarly, the act of being grateful or expressing appreciation is also a stand-alone act. Both of these actions yield an effect. Complaining creates the energy of irritation and dis-ease, while being grateful creates energy of ease and contentment. Life's events take place within these two energy spectrums. Complaining may provide a release, yet it does not address a solution. Similarly, while creating an atmosphere of appreciation contributes to a sense of well being, it does not necessarily address that which is unsettling either.
I am a champion for positive thinking, extraordinary expectations and appreciation; however, I am not lacking appreciation every time I acknowledge I am facing or experiencing something undesirable. Recognizing what is not fulfilling helps me identify what areas I must target for desired change, inevitably manifesting the life experience I desire. There is tremendous value in grasping that awareness, should you choose to use it to create a better result. Let's explore the shades that lie between complaining and gratitude, so we can come up with a helpful solution.
When something really exciting happens, most people are inspired to share it. Complaining can also feel good because it gives us a chance to let go or release what we are feeling. Exciting news can feel like it's physically expanding inside of you, ready to burst until you tell someone about it. Similarly, when something very irritating happens, it can also feel like it's expanding which makes us want to express it.
If sharing the information, whether positive or negative provides us with a release, then we can surely identify another way to obtain the release that complaining may provide, simultaneously moving you into a better energetic space. Within the disparity of these states of being is an opportunity to acknowledge what is undesirable, hence experiencing a "let go" as well as being solution oriented to create the desired change that will transform the situation or environment.
Thus the question becomes what action can we take that will create more to be appreciative of and content with, and consequently less to be discontented with while providing us with the release that enhances our success. Having more in your life to be excited about and less to be annoyed or disappointed with removes you from the treadmill and places you out on the open road for an interesting, colorful, more fulfilling journey. Consider "venting."
We place a hood vent over an indoor grill to redirect and release the smoke created from the grill and prevent it from building up. Vents release what is created when we perform the desired action. If we know that complaining gives us a release, consider venting instead. It's like adding an intention that transforms your complaining into an action that can serve you.
My partner, my best friend and those closest to me are the people I choose to vent with. When one of us needs to release, we establish the intention first; therefore, the energy is released without a build up of negativity. Sometimes through the process of venting, we gain insight to ourselves, or contribute clarity to one another. At other times, we are clear that we are simply expressing for the purpose of letting go of something; we may be already taking actions to change it and just need a moment to express our impatience.
With intention, venting creates energy that is released and propelled away from you and others, rather than energy that is expended, hanging in the air for others around you to absorb. Regardless of whether you want help, provide insight or simply want to say something aloud, by establishing the intention of venting the process of expression becomes different than complaining--even if you are greatly unnerved. You enjoy the benefit of the release without increasing the feeling of what is already disconcerting to you.
Likewise, when you establish your intention of venting, those with whom you do it will not experience the heaviness or negativity one often feels when someone opposite them is complaining. The intention establishes the purpose, as well as moving you forward to a better emotional place when you are finished. Then you can even appreciate the movement you've made from a place of angst or irritation to a place of greater peace and acceptance. This is a good way for you to determine if your true intention is to complain for the sake of complaining, or for the sake of releasing your irritation.
In the journey of life, the experiences we attract will no doubt introduce us to a wide range of emotions. Even with the greatest amount of gratitude, the lessons we are destined to learn will inevitably challenge a peaceful, joyful state of being. Rather than ignoring those feelings or chastising yourself for feeling them, learn how to embrace them and process them in a purposeful way that serves you. This will keep you on a productive path that yields the kind of results you desire.
Being present means acknowledging all of the emotions you feel; setting an intention to recognize them, and addressing them in a way that empowers you, is a choice you always have. Rather than react or complain as if you are powerless, may you choose to act with intention and empower yourself!