Could you Cut out Complaining for one WHOLE day? It’s harder than you think. But hold on, don’t dismiss the idea straightaway. There’s actually a far more constructive way to complain and that’s what I’m hoping you’ll take on board. But let’s set the scene for some fairly traditional complaining situations:
- You’re having coffee or tea at a local cafe with a friend. You start talking about how ridiculous your husband was the other night. You tell your friend all about how cross you were with him and what an idiot he was. You finish up with “Men, can’t live with them, can’t shoot them!”
- It’s school run time. You’re waiting for your child to come out of their classroom and the time is getting on a bit. You’re cold, you’re tired and you just want to get home so you start complaining to the Mum next to you about the time keeping ability of the classroom teacher which leads to an animated conversation about all of the things that are bothering you about the classroom teacher. Other parents are within earshot and hear you and maybe even join in.
- Time for bed and bath! Your child(ren) are taking their own sweet time in the bath. You’ve asked them to get washed and get out of the bath three times now! Finally, you snap. You march into the bath where your children are happily playing together in the bath and startle the bejesus out of them as you tell them how disappointed you are in them and how there will be NO STORIES at bedtime tonight because they clearly are not interested in listening to Mummy!
Do any of these situations sound familiar? Let’s look at these situations a little more and see if there’s a different, more constructive way to deal with them?
- Clearly you are upset and frustrated about your situation with your husband from the night before. We all need to vent from time to time. But can your friend do anything about your argument with your Other Half? What you are succeeding in doing is belittling your Other Half to your friend and painting a slightly unfair picture. If you really need advice or some commiseration, isn’t there a more positive way to discuss it with your friend? Something like “Oh dear, I am really frustrated. O.H. and I argued last night. How would you handle this?” Or maybe, just maybe, you should be discussing the whole thing with the one person who can really do something about it: your Other Half? After time apart to clear your heads, you may be able to come back and solve whatever happened.
- Yes, it can be frustrating when you are waiting for your child to come out of school or an activity, especially when you have somewhere to be. But again, can the other Mum standing next to you do anything about it? No. Does starting a teacher-bashing session help anyone? Not really. It does, however, brand you as a complainer in the eyes of your fellow class parents. And maybe, just maybe, your child’s classroom teacher has an extremely good reason for keeping the children a little longer than usual? Maybe something happened when the children were getting ready to go? Maybe she’s celebrating a really awesome achievement? Maybe she’s enjoying spending time with your children so much that she lost track of time?
- Bath & Bedtime- every parent’s Waterloo (ha ha). We’re tired, we want to get them to bed so we can relax and reclaim some “Me” or “Us” time. But what’s actually happening with your children? They’re having FUN! They’re getting along! They’re being KIDS! Yes, of course you need them to listen and follow directions but how about approaching it differently? Instead of shouting how much time they have left before you want them out of the bath, how about walking into the bathroom and saying “I love the way you two are playing together! I really need you to get washed up now so I’m going to time you to see how long it takes! Thank you for listening and making an effort! Ready, steady, go!”
Yes, it definitely takes effort to not complain or to complain constructively. It’s commonly known as a compliment sandwich. You put a positive affirmation on either side of a constructive suggestion or complaint and the end result generally is far more positive and far less painful. You’re boosting the mood of the person you’re dealing with and you’re thinking differently yourself. Instead of just unleashing a tirade of grumpiness on the unwitting recipient, you’re helping them to feel better about the situation while accomplishing what you wish for them to do.
Could you try this for one whole day? For one whole week? I believe that the end result would be a far calmer sense of self, a boosting of others around you and far less negative talk flying around. Why not give it a go? Report back on your success! Good luck and #embracehappy.