I Stopped Complaining For a Week

And here’s what happened:

Day 1 (Tuesday): Day one was very difficult. At work, I was almost finished with a multi-day project. Or so I thought. Everything that could go wrong with this project did. I thought I was on the easiest step of the entire process, and it turned into an all-day task. I asked for help from my co-workers, but nobody had run into the same issues before. So instead of whining, all I could do was keep trying. I felt more productive that day. I can’t just sit here and wallow about all the issues I’m having, I have to try to just fix them. With two hours left in the work day, and an error that seemed unfixable and disastrous, I almost cried, out of sheer frustration. I had just about given up for the day when I tried one more possible solution… That fixed the whole problem! I was so proud of myself! It was a long day, but I realized that complaining wouldn’t have solved anything. Except maybe my mental state.

I got home and was irritated with some situations between my boyfriend and I. But  I couldn’t complain. So instead, I sat there and stewed. Then I spent some time by myself and calmed down. At the end of the night, I was able to say, “So.. for future reference, if you could do this instead next time, I would appreciate it.” Again, it felt more productive to go about it that way than to start a fight. But! I recognize how unhealthy it is to just stew in these emotions, so maybe next time, I will stew for five minutes, then calm down for fifteen, and then I can be productive? We’ll see.

Day 2 (Wednesday): Day two was when I felt incredible. I got through the prior day without complaining, so I could do anything! Watch out world! I also started to realize that your tone sometimes makes all the difference in these situations. If you’re stating a fact like, “I’m hungry,” that doesn’t count as complaining. Because it’s a fact, and a state of being. But, if you say, “OMG I’m so hungry! I’m starving! There’s nothing to eat!” etc. then you’re just whining. Stop it. Get yourself something to eat, because chances are, nobody else cares that you’re “starving.” I hit traffic on the way home and I got impatient, I didn’t complain… I said, “UGH!” and then covered my mouth, and said, “Oh no!” My first slip, but it was more of just a sound, right? Well I felt bad, and then I got the closest spot in the parking lot and I said, “Ooh, Karma from not complaining yesterday is paying off. I better watch myself while in traffic.”

Day 3 (Thursday): Thursday was fine until a little mid-day argument with Alex. I started to complain to the girls at work a little bit. I said, “I know this is complaining, but I can’t help it.” And then I thought about what Alex said the night before, that sometimes it’s not considered complaining, it’s decompressing. And is girl talk really complaining? Well… Yes. Sometimes. But I nipped it in the bud as soon as I got my main points out. Clearly, I didn’t feel nearly as incredible as I did the day before.

Day 4 (Friday): You would think, “It’s Friday, there can’t be that much to complain about!” Right? Well… Maybe. There wasn’t, until the same mid-day argument happened. The same issue came up again. I got overwhelmed and decided that Friday would be my “cheat day.” That’s a thing, right? When you don’t complain about something, and then the same thing happens the next day, because it didn’t get resolved, you’re going to boil over, right? That night after work I went over to my parents’ house. I complained of course, but they were able to give me different perspectives, and if not, they just listened. Like parents do. I was in a much better mood after that. We watched Jeopardy, and then went out to dinner. At the restaurant there was a band playing, so my dad requested a song for him and my mom to dance to. It was so sweet, that after 30+ years of marriage, he still does little gestures like that for her. The rest of the night I didn’t really complain. Once it’s out, it’s out.

Day 5 (Saturday): Saturday was a wonderful day 🙂 Alex planned on spending the day together since we didn’t get much time during the week. We had breakfast, went to Starbucks, went on a walk, went to dinner, watched a movie, and just generally enjoyed each others’ company. At the end of the night, I did have a stomachache. I didn’t complain, I just told Alex, I wasn’t feeling well and apologized for being a party pooper. He said I wasn’t, and I fell asleep. Overall, Saturday was probably my best day.

Day 6: (Sunday): Sunday was a pretty easy day too. I was a little bummed because the girls’ day I had been hoping for fell through. But I was able to spend time with one of my sisters. I’ve noticed that lately, her and I have been closer than we used to be. I’m really enjoying our friendship. I did complain a little about politics, but not in the sense that you might expect. I said that I don’t like how people say: “How did we get here? Why are these our only options?” All I can say to them is: “Did you vote in your primary? Did you participate in your caucus? Were you a delegate at any point? We got here, because people voted. Or didn’t. And these were the two candidates that made it. So unless you participated in getting them here, I don’t want to hear your complaining!” (I was a delegate for my county, so I witnessed the whole thing!) However, I did not complain during the debate. It was a joke anyways, right?

Day 7: (Monday): The last day I was determined not to have any slips! Granted, it’s a Monday. But when you think about it, if the weeks started on Fridays, we would hate Fridays too. I’m going to try thinking of Mondays as a fresh start, instead of as the dreaded “Mondays.” I was in a good mood that day. I wasn’t too busy at work, but I wasn’t incredibly bored. Alex and I didn’t fight, I got to bake, it was an easy day not to complain.

So what did a week of no complaining teach me? Change your perspective. For the most part, nobody wants to hear you whine. If you ask for help and nobody knows how to help you, try again. Whining about it won’t help anything.

When you’re trying hard not to complain, you notice how often some people complain. It was irritating to me at first, and then I had to laugh. Because if I remained irritated with them for complaining, it would eventually make me complain, and then I have no right to talk.

Don’t bottle things in. People have been trying to tell me this since I was a teenager. But when you’re not allowing yourself to complain, you’re either going to stew or be productive. However, you can only be as productive as the other person will allow. And sometimes, you’re just going to stew. But when you bottle it in, you increase the chances that you’re going to boil over the next day and make the situation even worse.

Overall, I can’t help complaining, especially during traffic, because I’m only human. But, next time a project frustrates me, or Alex and I get tiffed at each other, I will think about this week, and what I did to help the situations.
I’m also thinking about what else I can try to give up for a week.

What’s one of your bad habits? Can you go one week without doing it?

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