“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Our lives are filled with cleanses to do for everything from parasites to toxins to sugar, the list goes on and on. Just walk into any health food store and there are shelves full of different cleanses to try. Then I read an article about complaining by Meena Duerson, a senior editor of Today.com, where she discussed her venting and complaining to the point she was noticing it more and more. “I remember noticing that I was venting a lot both at work, in conversations with friends, and at home with my husband, and it wasn’t cheering me up — it was stressing me out more.” She thought, if I can just stop being negative for a week and be more conscious of what I say, then maybe I will feel more positive, and maybe I can change the tone of the conversations I’m having so that there’s less negativity and we don’t feed off each other.” She said she slipped up a few times, but overall, the week was valuable because it made her reevaluate what was and was not actually worth complaining about.
What she did is definitely not your normal health cleanse but it may be a good mental health cleanse!
Every day we hear people complaining about ridiculous things or judging and putting down others. Maybe you even do it yourself. We are all guilty of being ‘debbie downers’ every so often but if it takes up more then 5 percent of your weekly interactions a Complaining Cleanse may be the cleanse for you!
Types of complaining and complainers
It is useful to understand that complaining (and—by extension—complainers) come in types. There are those who never seem to be satisfied. These are known as chronic complainers. They have a tendency to ruminate on problems and to focus on setbacks over progress. Some research suggests that making a habit of a complaint can “re-wire” the brain so that those particular thinking orientations become ingrained. It is possible to re-wire this re-wiring to make it more positive, of course, but chronic complainers probably don’t think it would work all that well.
The second type of complaint is the familiar “venting.” Venting is expressing emotional dissatisfaction. It turns out that people who vent have an agenda. They tend to be focused on themselves and their own—presumably negative—experience. By showing their anger, frustration, or disappointment, they are soliciting attention from their confidantes. They can feel validated by receiving attention and sympathy. Venters are particularly likely to discount advice and proposed solutions to their problems, much less listen to anyone else, especially in the throws of their rage. They aren’t looking to solve anything; they simply want validation and to prove others wrong.
One unfortunate downside to both venting and to chronic complaining is that it can dampen people’s moods. In one series of studies, researchers tracked people’s moods before and after hearing a complaint. As predicted, listening to gripes made people feel worse. What’s more, the complainer also felt worse!
The last type of complaint is known as the “instrumental complaint.” Unlike its uptight conceptual cousins, the instrumental complaint is all about solving problems. When you confront your business partner about overspending on the credit card, that could be instrumental complaining. Especially if you focus on the impact of the problem, the importance of change, and cooperate to create a plan for change. One study suggests that these types of complaints make up fewer than 25 percent of all complaints.
If you are one of the first two types of complainers or know someone who is, try a Complaining Cleanse, it will surely brighten your life and ease stress in your daily activities.
It’s important to cleanse the negativity in your life as you do the Complaining Cleanse.
- Cleanse your thoughts. This means NO complaining, NO blaming and NO justifying. If you catch yourself mid-sentence, just laugh and say, “Whoops, I’m on negativity cleanse, and I took a vow.” Whatever other negative thoughts come up, take a second, recognize them, release judgment, bless them and let them pass. Just don’t dwell or let them take roots! Remember, we’re only human and they’ll always come knocking on your door, but that doesn’t mean you have to invite them to move in with you. These thoughts also include the judgment of yourself, your body and others – even traffic! Even the simplest of stresses and negative thoughts can cause your cortisol to spike, and guess what? Spiking your cortisol is like going to war with your own body. Every negative thought notifies your brain to send out chemicals that can harm your cells. When cortisol is high, your body struggles to burn fat, energy is lowered and your fuse is shortened… YUP, I did it. I went straight for the pain point – VANITY. We’re all guilty of it at one point or another. It’s all good, baby – this helped me stop my negative thoughts, too. If it doesn’t feel good to think about it, chances are it’s bad for you. Talk to yourself and others like you would your best friend. Let LOVE and GRATITUDE replace these addictive thoughts. Without these two things, there is no joy.
You get what you focus on, so stop feeding on the things that make you unhappy. If looking in the mirror makes you unhappy right now, say “I love you” to yourself when the thought pops in and walk away. Then, in other cases like this, start saying your gratitude list out loud immediately. Being grateful attracts more to be grateful for.
- Cleanse your friends. Really, this can be anyone you are spending time with. I don’t mean never see them again, but just really take inventory of who makes you feel good and who doesn’t. Seriously, I’ve been guilty of hanging in groups that made me feel like I needed a shower afterward from all the “dirt” we used to gossip about. If you feel bad after you’re with them, you need to limit your time as much as possible. If your words were boomerangs, would you like what was coming back around? Always remember this. It’s energy, my friend. You can’t get those words back. If you notice a major feeling of peace from this particular cleanse action, it may be time to start changing your circle.
- Cleanse what fills your time. What are you reading, surfing on the web, digesting in the news, watching on TV, listening to etc.? This ALL matters. We are simply a product of our surroundings and what our minds are downloading. Don’t think so? Try taking a one-week break from anything that doesn’t resemble rainbows and goodness – just to see if you start seeing the good in everything around you instead of the drama and sadness. (There’s plenty of that – one week away won’t hurt you.) If this makes you feel amazing, it’s your choice what comes back. I like being aware of current events, and then stepping back. I briefly read headlines once or twice a week, but leave the rest unless I’ve taken a sincere interest in changing it. Being helpless or spreading fear is not why I’m here… Try picking up a great book or going for a walk whenever you’re tempted to dive back into the news, reality TV or a violent/drama flick.
- Cleanse your living area. Since you’ve cleared a bit of extra time this week after cleansing so many areas, let’s talk about your space. Fair warning, this is a tough one for most. If you keep a lot of junk (sorry, I meant stuff)… If you keep a lot of “stuff” in your spaces (on your desk, in your purse, in your closet, in your drawers, in your car), chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. People often hold onto junk out of fear and insecurities. The more you can clear, toss and give away, the more you make room for in your life. Give it a try. This worked so well for me that I now go through my spaces monthly, and do a purge of whatever I’m not using or is pulling at me because I’m not using it. Pure freedom. Just to really hit home to my friends who like to buy stuff, you can’t make room for Jimmy Choo if your closet is bursting at the seams with Payless shoes you don’t remember you have. Whatever your weak spot, you get my point.
If you are a chronic complainer, or generally negative, give the cleanse a try for 21 days. I think you will be very surprised at how happier and brighter your days and life seem. And if you think it may be difficult to do, find a buddy to do it with you for 21 days! Email me your results on how your complaining cleanse went or is going! Good luck!!