As My Voice Gets Softer, Yours Feels Louder

Mar 5…A Thursday with an all day offsite meeting.  I told Chris the last couple of days I may try not checking my phone right when I wake up anymore as I’m normally greeted with emails or facebook posts that leave me tempted to complain about something.  I’ve been as successful at that as I was with ditching caffeinated coffee in January when I was waking up at 4:45am, but I haven’t complained about anything I’ve seen/read that early so I guess it’s kind of an ‘eh’ type of effort.  So after 5 days, I’ve decided there’s different types of complaints.  I felt like I did a pretty good job of identifying what a complaint looks like (reference formula on my first March blog post) and have been more than entertained as I watch people work their way through the 3 stages of a complaint (the complaint, the global language (like “always” or “never”) and the personal dig), but now I’m realizing there’s different types of complaints too.  Here’s what I’ve come up with as the 3 types of complaints:

#1.  Uncontrollable (Non-Critical) Circumstances – These are things like traffic, long lines, Chick-fil-a being closed on a Sunday when that’s the only day that week you craved fried chicken, dropping something on your clothes, spilling coffee, etc.  I find that for me personally, I’m pretty good at not complaining about these things (I think).  So in the scheme of not complaining for 31 days, other than the occasional chicken craving on a Sunday, I roll with the punches on this stuff pretty well.  These are the things that are also easy to offset with the opposite/positive, for example, ‘this traffic sucks but at least I have a car to drive,’ or ‘it sucks I ruined this shirt but I have 100 others at home,’ ‘ugh, I spilled coffee but could go buy another cup so easily.’  These are actually the complaints that I have the lowest tolerance for when others do.  When we complain about stuff like this, we’ve typically lost all perspective and it just sounds dumb.  *Disclaimer:  Women having a hormonal week for any reason get a free pass.

#2.  People/Gossip – I’m learning there’s an extremely fine and blurry line between complaining and gossip.  I told Chris that I’m noticing how many complaints are about people in general.  It starts as a complaint about something someone did or said but the gossip is so quickly behind that it merges into one nasty conversation that if you’re like me, leaves you feeling kind of guilty when you leave the conversation because you’d just die if that person knew all the things you said about them.  I don’t have a solution for this one (yet).  I think sometimes we try to weave in phrases like “oh, but I really like her…” or “I mean, we’re friends but…” or “don’t get me wrong, she’s really smart but….” to make ourselves feel better.  I guess I have 26 more days to ponder this topic.  This whole people complaint/gossip thing has been intrigued but more to come on this one…

#3.  Controllable Circumstances We Refuse to Fix – If you read my last blog post, you knew I had a headache for 13 hours one day and did nothing to fix it.  Sprinkled in conversations everywhere are small complaints about things people have the power to change.  I think some people have actually lost sight of the fact that they can change them.  If you get stuck in traffic everyday, leave at a different time or take a different route.  If you hate your job, get a new one.  If you don’t have time for something you want to do, rearrange your schedule.  If you hate drying your hair everyday, cut it off.  For myself, I think I’m about about 75% good on these types of complaints and typically try to just find a solution and move on when things bug me.  This is another type of complaint I have low tolerance for, because it often seems they’re seeking advice and you’ll find yourself telling them 20x over what they should do….and then they never do it.  Which gives you plenty of ammo for complaint #2 (referenced above) allowing you to complain about them for not helping themselves.  Oh the cycle of complaints.

Mar 6….Friday.  My ability to avoid complaining was still what I’d consider good, and I’d almost dare to say easy.  I caught myself a couple times when it came down to very small things at work that I commented about not caring for, but I quickly eliminated the complaining part and just stated a fact and came up with a solution.  One thing I’ve noticed though – as my complaints soften or become nonexistent, everyone else’s complaints feel so much louder.  Last year Chris got an Audi.  I can’t say I paid much attention to Audi’s before, but once he got his I started noticing every Audi on the way downtown and in the parking garages.  We got a paver patio last year.  I never really paid much attention to other people’s patios, but once we got ours it was something I noticed at friends and neighbors houses from that point forward.  I realize it’s perspective.  Anything you’re focusing on at that time will seem to have a magnifying glass on it anywhere and everywhere you go.  Well, choosing not to complain but still sitting in or participating in conversations only brings this heightened awareness to what others are complaining about.  I told Chris that it’s almost like watching life as an outsider.  It’s odd because it feels like a relief that you aren’t complaining, but it feels taxing to hear others do it.

Mar 7…Why in the world does it seem like most of my complaints arrive on the weekend?  Saturday morning and my first thoughts (though not vocalized) were around how I felt “blah” or how the weather was what it was, or just kind of that general negative tone as I asked myself how I wanted to spend my morning.  Weird.  Is this because I’m not up and getting ready for work with some sort of solid hour by hour or minute by minute plan?  I made a last minute decision to go to Zumba (how can you complain when you’re dancing?!) and the rest of the day was already planned with family coming in town, so there was nothing to complain about and a lot to be thankful for.  I guess I’m finding my challenges more-so during unscheduled or downtime and primarily on people-related complaints.  I have a degree in psychology so I am finding all of this very fascinating.  I have received enough nice notes from friends that I’m moving past the point of uncomfortable when it comes to sharing what I complain most about.  Now, off to bed where I will wake up tomorrow to 20+ people’s facebook feeds complaining about the time change. #justdont