Complaining is a suitable mindset, as far as your brain is concerned.
A friend of mine asked me to join her in a challenge. For a solid week, we had to write down every time we complained about something. At the end of the week, we had to look at our list. I actually had to write out my list since I used the voice memo on my phone for my complaining- writing it down EVERY time was taking TOO much time 🙄. We then had to look at our list and make these notes:
- What was the situation?
- How often are you in this situation?
- How were you feeling?
- What did you do about it?
My answers, all too frequently, are it happens all of the time, I’m irritated/ frustrated/ disappointed, and I do NOTHING except complain about it. Again.
To change your mind, disconnect the cruise control
When you are on a long trip, cruise control is a great feature to cover those long stretches of road where nothing much changes and you can maintain a steady speed. Set your desired speed to cruise without expending much brain power.
This lack of engagement is actually what the brain prefers. Status quo. Your brain is not thinking of the possibility that you may fall asleep in this state, it just doesn’t want to think about the “watch for moose” sign. Your brain is not making a rational decision about what’s best for you– it’s taking the path of least resistance, avoiding “unnecessary” risks. Until they become necessary.
Get rid of the noise that sounds like fear
Uncertainty can be paralyzing. Did you know that your brain is wired to focus on the possible downsides of an uncertain outcome over the possible benefits? By overthinking everything, you slip into “analysis paralysis” where you don’t take any action to initiate change. You would rather complain about it!
Overthinking leads to overwhelm. Overwhelm is simply not knowing where to start. Take one small step in the direction you are thinking about going and the overwhelm seems to start to disipate.
Remember the question in the “complaining exercise”? What did you do about it? Our brains try to resolve the conflict between what we are irritated about and the possibility of having a choice to change it by dismissing the new information or opportunities that could lead to change. Your brain tells you, “This is how we have always dealt with that (complaining about it) so we should continue on that known path.”
What do I have to lose?
This sounds like a good question, but to your brain, its a statement. Rather than a question with more than one possible answer. Your brain asks what do I have to lose!!!!
You are more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal, or even greater, value. The fear of loss, whether it’s loss of comfort, status, acceptance, a sense of belonging, or whatever makes us resistant to change.
Sometimes you have a feeling and a longing for something different. You can’t shake the feeling and you start thinking about taking a chance. But, what if it doesn’t work? What if it does?
Emotion behind the “sunk cost” deception
You don’t like to “waste” the investment that you have made in something. If you have invested time, money, or emotional energy into a particular path, you’re more likely to stick to it even if it no longer serves you well.
We hold on to clothes or furniture that you don’t really like, and rarely use or wear, because you spent “good money” on it. You cling to mistakes just because you spent alot of time making them. You think if you just work smarter and harder that’s the answer. But digging harder and faster doesn’t make a difference if you are digging the wrong hole.
Have you considered that the lesson learned was worth the investment? When you don’t reconcile this truth, you will find yourself stuck.
What will everyone think if I make this change?
The opinions of others can discourage you from doing something you are longing to do. Even when that change would be beneficial. When you think about doing something different (especially if its something you are often complaining about), is you first thought, “What will ________ think about it?”
What if someone else is looking to you to inspire them to have the courage to do something as you do it first? Give yourself permission to:
- Disrupt your expected patterns
- To invest in yourself
- To release your fears and move on
- To create the time for you passions
- To give yourself Grace
- To picture your future
Don’t let time go by with someone else (anyone else) writing your story!
Change vs procrastination, mental fatigue, and habits
It’s three against one- unfair odds?! Here is the brain tri-fecta working against you…
Your brain will opt for immediate gratification over long-term benefits. You might understand that change is beneficial in the long run, but the short-term effort required can make us procrastinate. You need to ask yourself how this decision will feel in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months…” Classic example, “I’ll start the diet tomorrow.” 10 minute mentality.
Change requires mental energy to plan, initiate and weigh the options. When you’re already overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities, it’s easier to stick to your routines rather than expend extra energy. Our brains are wired to form habits as a way to conserve energy.
Habits can be good, or they can become “bad habits”. Complaining is a bad habit and you do it automatically, by default, without even thinking about it. Breaking a bad habit begins with awareness.
Is it too late to change my mind?
Now that you know that your brain is just one tool in your self-awareness arsenal, you can decide to tell it to be less bossy. Appreciate it like a well meaning friend that tends to point out the worst case scenario. Duly noted, but not the decision maker.
Complaining does not serve you. It does not solve any problems. Make your own complaining journal for a week and see what I mean. And then, decided what you are going to do about it.
You know how we all go through life transitions and you find yourself in a new season? Everything has changed- your roles, your goals, your body- and nothing seems to fit anymore. Literally!
I coach women to move into their next season intentionally by getting their “someday” dream out of their heads and onto their priority list starting today.
If you feel stuck and don’t know how to start dreaming again, ask the right questions here!
Want to join a group of friends that are on the road trip to “Someday” right along with you? Join my FREE FB GROUP Someday:the8thdayoftheweek