How to Stop Complaining

August 20th, 2007 by Steve Pavlina

Perhaps the most important step in quitting the habit of complaining is to disconnect the undesirable behavior from your identity.  A common mistake chronic complainers make is to self-identify with the negative thoughts running through their minds.  Such a person might admit, “I know I’m responsible for my thoughts, but I don’t know how to stop myself from thinking negatively so often.”  That seems like a step in the right direction, and to a certain degree it is, but it’s also a trap.  It’s good to take responsibility for your thoughts, but you don’t want to identify with those thoughts to the point you end up blaming yourself and feeling even worse.

A better statement might be, “I recognize these negative thoughts going through my mind.  But those thoughts are not me.  As I raise my awareness, I can replace those thoughts with positive alternatives.”  You have the power to recondition your thoughts, but the trick is to keep your consciousness out of the quagmire of blame.  Realize that while these thoughts are flowing through your mind, they are not you.  You are the conscious conduit through which they flow.

Mental conditioning

Although your thoughts are not you, if you repeat the same thoughts over and over again, they will condition your mind to a large extent.  It’s almost accurate to say that we become our dominant thoughts, but I think that’s taking it a bit too far.

Consider how the foods you eat condition your body.  You aren’t really going to become the next meal you eat, but that meal is going to influence your physiology, and if you keep eating the same meals over and over, they’ll have a major impact on your body over time.  Your body will crave and expect those same foods.  However, your body remains separate and distinct from the foods you eat, and you’re still free to change what you eat, which will gradually recondition your physiology in accordance with the new inputs.

This is why negative thinking is so addictive.  If you keep holding negative thoughts, you condition your mind to expect and even crave those continued inputs.  Your neurons will even learn to predict the reoccurrence of negative stimuli.  You’ll practically become a negativity magnet.

The trap of negative thinking

This is a tough situation to escape because it’s self-perpetuating, as anyone stuck in negative thinking knows all too well.  Your negative experiences feed your negative expectations, which then attract new negative experiences.

In truth most people who enter this pattern never escape it in their entire lives.  It’s just that difficult to escape.  Even as they rail against their own negativity, they unknowingly perpetuate it by continuing to identify with it.  If you beat yourself up for being too negative, you’re simply reinforcing the pattern, not breaking out of it.

I think most people who are stuck in this trap will remain stuck until they experience an elevation in their consciousness.  They have to recognize that they’re trapped and that continuing to fight their own negativity while still identifying with it is a battle that can never be won.  Think about it.  If beating yourself up for being too whiny was going to work, wouldn’t it have worked a long time ago?  Are you any closer to a solution for all the effort you’ve invested in this plan of attack?

Consequently, the solution I like best is to stop fighting and surrender.  Instead of resisting the negativity head-on, acknowledge and accept its presence.  This will actually have the effect of raising your consciousness.

Overcoming negativity

You can actually learn to embrace the negative thoughts running through your head and thereby transcend them.  Allow them to be, but don’t identify with them because those thoughts are not you.  Begin to interact with them like an observer.

It’s been said that the mind is like a hyperactive monkey.  The more you fight with the monkey, the more hyper it becomes.  So instead just relax and observe the monkey until it wears itself out.

Recognize also that this is the very reason you’re here, living out your current life as a human being.  Your reason for being here is to develop your consciousness.  If you’re mired in negativity, your job is to develop your consciousness to the point where you can learn to stay focused on what you want, to create positively instead of destructively.  It may take you more than a lifetime to accomplish that, and that’s OK.  Your life is always reflecting back to you the contents of your consciousness.  If you don’t like what you’re experiencing, that’s because your skill at conscious creation remains underdeveloped.  That’s not a problem though because you’re here to develop it.  You’re experiencing exactly what you’re supposed to be experiencing so you can learn.

Conscious creation

If you need a few more lifetimes to work through your negativity, you’re free to take your time.  Conscious creation is a big responsibility, and maybe you don’t feel ready for it yet.  So until then you’re going to perpetuate the pattern of negative thinking to keep yourself away from that realization.  You must admit that the idea of being the primary creator of everything in your current reality is a bit daunting.  What are you going to make of your life?  What if you screw up?  What if you make a big mess of everything?  What if you try your best and fail?  Those self-doubts will keep you in a pattern of negativity as a way of avoiding that responsibility.

Unfortunately, this escapism has consequences.  The only way true creators can deny responsibility for their creations is to buy into the illusion that they aren’t really creating any of it.  This means you have to turn your own creative energy against yourself.  You’re like a god using his powers to become powerless.  You use your strength to make yourself weak.

The reason you may be stuck in a negative thought pattern right now is that at some point, you chose it.  You figured the alternative of accepting full responsibility for everything in your reality would be worse.  It’s too much to handle.  So you turned your own thoughts against yourself to avoid that awesome responsibility.  And you’ll continue to remain in a negative manifestation pattern until you’re ready to start accepting some of that responsibility back onto your plate.

Negativity needn’t be a permanent condition.  You still have the freedom to choose otherwise.  In practice this realization normally happens in layers of unfolding awareness.  You begin to accept and embrace more and more responsibility for your life.

Assuming total responsibility

You see… the real solution to complaining is responsibility.  You must say to the universe (and mean it), “I want to accept more responsibility for everything in my experience.”

Here are some examples of what I mean by accepting responsibility:

  • If I’m unhappy, it’s because I’m creating it.
  • If there’s a problem in the world that bothers me, I’m responsible for fixing it.
  • If someone is in need, I’m responsible for helping them.
  • If I want something, it’s up to me to achieve it.
  • If I want certain people in my life, I must attract and invite them to be with me.
  • If I don’t like my present circumstances, I must end them.

On the flip side, it may also help to take responsibility for all the good in your life.  The good stuff didn’t just happen to you.  You created it.  Well done.

Pat yourself on the back for what you like, but don’t feel you must pretend to enjoy what you clearly don’t like.  But do accept responsibility for all of it… to the extent you’re ready to do so.

Complaining is the denial of responsibility.  And blame is just another way of excusing yourself from being responsible.  But this denial still wields its own creative power.

Conscious creation is indeed an awesome responsibility.  But in my opinion it’s the best part of being human.  There’s just no substitute for creating a life of joy, even if it requires taking responsibility for all the unwanted junk you’ve manifested up to this point.

When you catch yourself complaining, stop and ask yourself if you want to continue to deny responsibility for your reality or to allow a bit more responsibility back onto your plate.  Maybe you’re ready to assume more responsibility, and maybe you aren’t, but do your best to make that decision consciously.  Do you want sympathy for creating what you don’t want, or do you want congratulations for creating what you do want?


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