21 Day No Complaining Challenge

This month Halifax yoga is offering a challenge called “ The 21 day no complaining challenge”.  The way the challenge works is that for 21 days you wear a bracelet on your wrist and every time you complain, you switch the bracelet to the other wrist. The object of this challenge is to see how long you can keep the bracelet on the same wrist.  In theory this sounds easy, I mean surely you don’t complain enough that you would have to switch it more than once right?? WRONG! You will soon be amazed at how much you complain.

no complain

When Sherry told me about this challenge I was just about to start my first weekend of yoga teacher training. The seed was planted in my brain and I was becoming more to be more cognitive of how much I complain. Fast forward two days and I am in a circle with four of my fellow ytt’ers surrounding me and I am suppose to lean from side to side and trust they will catch me. For reasons we will discuss in a later blog, I ended up going out to my car, crying, and texting Jeremy. I typed the following text “I hated that stupid trust exercise” I then thought shit, I can’t send that, it is complaining and I erased it. I followed it up by typing, “ I cant even tell you what I want to tell you because it is complaining” realizing I couldn’t send that either because it was complaining again I erased it. I then sent, “ugghhhhh F*&K” I hit send and switched my bracelet.

Eager to learn how to communicate better, I set out to really understand what makes us complain and how to better communicate around complaining. In my career I find myself in a position where I am listening to a lot of people complain. In the past few weeks, I have come to realize some really important things about complaining. This has helped to shift who I am as a person and allowed me to better communicate without the complaining.

1)  Complaining is gossiping. “Anne didn’t pull the files this morning for appointments, she never does what she is tasked to do”.  So many times I hear co- workers complaining about other co-workers and they fail to realize this is gossip. I HATE being gossiped about and yet I will catch myself in a bitch fest with someone that is really not complaining but gossiping. That is a tough lesson to learn. If you are complaining about someone and they find out…it hurts everyone involved.

2)  Complaining is TOXIC. I called a friend once; very excited to tell them I had gotten a new job.  When they answered the phone the first thing they said was “ thank god you called, I’m having the worst day, listen to this….”. By the time they were done complaining I didn’t end up sharing my news because I had lost my excitement. The complaining poisoned me.

3)  Complaining can ruin someone’s business. Have you ever complained about a place and someone didn’t go there because of it? What if EVERYONE didn’t go there because of you complaining? What you like and dislike is not what others like and dislike, remember that when complaining to others about a business. Allow others to experience something and gain their own opinion before telling yours.

4)  Complaining without a solution is not productive! Going to your manager to complain about something and not offering a solution is just complaining! What does that do other than suck them into the darkness with you?

5)  Finally, when we complain about others it is often to make ourselves feel better and to stroke our own ego…I am going to leave that one for you to ponder over.

After mulling over all the things I have learned about complaining I realized that I don’t want to be the person who drags everyone else down, I don’t want to be known as the person who is negative or toxic. More importantly I don’t want to encourage others to be that person either. We all need to vent, and complain, but it is really important to pick the time, place, and person to do it with. Hold space for the person who is venting but don’t get sucked into it.  If you need to complain ask yourself, will this matter to me tomorrow? If it does still matter to you tomorrow then talk about it with that person.  Finally, don’t say “ I know this is complaining BUT” complaining has no justification it is or it isn’t!

Jennifer Toole


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