Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better ~Unknown
Yesterday, my husband had a partial knee replacement. He’s doing great today, and it seems that recovery will go smoothly. YAY!
While sitting in the surgical waiting area, waiting for him to come out of surgery, I overheard many conversations. I was amazed at how much of what people talk about is negative in nature. “Complaining” might be too strong of a word for it, but it’s just this low-grade “let me tell you what’s wrong.”
Time and again, as people would come in to join family members already there, I’d hear them greet one another and then talk about something that was wrong in some way.
“My goodness, it’s hot today!”
“The traffic was awful.”
“We thought we’d never find a place to park.”
If someone said how beautiful the weather was, others would agree and maybe add a tidbit or two, and that’d be the end of it. But if someone complained about how hot or muggy it was, there would be an energetic stream of sighs, moaning, and stories of suffering.
It’s like the negativity was a way to bond; a way to come together around a common enemy.
Complaining seems to have the same energy as gossip – it gathers strength with age and air. It gives us something to talk about. In fact, it’s often our way of talking about ourselves – because what we are really talking about is our own complaining mind (our thoughts of dissatisfaction).
The entire seven days David and I were on silent retreat in Baja, David was dealing with his bum knee. There’s no doubt that getting in and out of the kayaks, setting up camp, and walking across rocky beaches was painful and difficult. But because we were all in noble silence, no complaints were voiced. He later told me that one of his most profound lessons of the retreat was how, by not giving voice to his complaining thoughts, they gathered no steam and would simply come and go without much fanfare. It’s not that the silence made his knee better, but it certainly made his experience of the trip better.
Complaining has this magnetic energy to it. We jump on the bandwagon, pick up our torches, and band together to amplify the wrong-ness of whatever or whoever it is someone is complaining about. But without an audience, without words, we are left to come face to face with our own complaining minds. If we do this with kindness, our mind settles a bit and the “righteousness” loses steam; it becomes less riot-worthy, and space is created where there was none before.
Sitting in that waiting room yesterday, I understood that people didn’t mean to be negative, but rather, it’s just a go-to mode for many of us. When we don’t know what to say, or we are uncomfortable about something, we gripe. I mean, after all… everyone agrees “it’s hot and humid in southern Alabama in the middle of July!”
Might we try to take a page out of David’s book and give as little voice as possible to the situations we can do nothing about? When we’re uncomfortable, might we pause and see if the thoughts can float on through with little ado.
Here’s to giving negativity as little air time as possible.
Wishing you compassionate silence and loving words,
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