Are you a moaner?
I once knew someone who was very eager to be my friend, and they were so keen and enthusiastic I acquiesced. After about 6 months I was so weary of their moaning and complaining and blaming about anything and everyone that after a few months of struggling to remain empathic, I felt dispirited. I also began to suspect that the person could just as easily turn on and blame me. I cut contact.
Are you a moaner? Have you ever tried to bring about change in your life by complaining about something? The city or country you live in; the language people use; the job, the boss, your colleagues, the office; the crowds on the bus or in the streets?
Do you criticise, or imply criticism, of others? Maybe it’s the personal habits of your partner, their choice of clothing, entertainment, hobby, friends? Something they do, or don’t do. Or their relationship to their Mother (that’s always guaranteed to get them going)?
And don’t you feel empowered and energetic, always being in the RIGHT?
How did it work out? Hm. It didn’t? I thought so.
Frequently I hear from people that “If only he/she was different”, they’d be happy. Or if they went back to their home country/moved to a new city, everything would be lovely.
If only. If only: you hadn’t made us sell the house. If only you had wanted children. If only you did the washing up/had a different job/earned more money/respected my space, we’d be fine.
And the finger of blame always points outwards: It’s your fault. You made me do this. You promised x y and z. You let me down. You are useless.
Have you considered the following possibility? If you succeed by coercion, blaming, shaming, threatening, griping, sulking or yelling to make other people (a spouse, colleague, friend, relative, child) alter their ways, then the future of your relationship is highly likely to be a rocky one, based on fear, despair, hopelessness, rage and resentment.
And it’s also highly unlikely to thrive under this pressure whatever external change has taken place.
I’ve discovered through bitter experience that when I am (openly or subtly) criticising, blaming, righteous, and negative, this pointing the finger soon loses me friends. This is not the same as sharing your hurts, your sadness or disappointments with someone. But when you always seek to place responsibility for your feelings onto something or someone else, you’ll find that people drift away, sever their connections, or openly reject you. It makes people uneasy to be around you, the trust evaporates, and you’re alone, with even more to complain about!
So if you seriously desire and long for change, believe it will bring happiness, and you want your relationships to flourish, what are the best ways to bring about the change you need so that everyone benefits?
Own your feelings. Instead of “You hurt me” try “In this situation, I feel lost, isolated, hopeless, sad…” Instead of “You make me angry” try “When you shout at me, I feel scared and get defensive.” "When you invited them and left me out, I feel uncertain about our friendship, can you please be honest with me."
Say this to yourself first, and find out what’s true for you. Maybe a tone of voice or disagreement stirs up an uneasy feeling. This is often a clue that the problem lies not in the current relationship but in how you interpret these interactions. For example, if you constantly demand affection or proof of love from your partner, if you feel threatened when they enjoy someone else's company, was there a time in your childhood when you felt abandoned, left out or neglected? If so, then it’s clearly not your partner who’s making you feel this way, and nor is their responsibility to make it up to you. And you may notice that however often they reassure you, that unease is still there.
Warning: This is not about making yourself the Victim or making the other person wrong! It’s not about blaming yourself either! In fact, I believe this is the key to your freedom!
Ask for help (from yourself first): “Do I/you have any suggestions about how I could make this situation work better for me/us?”
A. Listen carefully to your own response. If you just hold that question gently in your mind, without urgency, notice what floats to the surface. It may be your answer. I remember panicking about my O-Level Latin exam, and the wonderful Miss Nicholson gave me advice I’ve never forgotten, and that I use when I’m in doubt: “You know the answer, deep down. Just put down the first thing that comes into your head and you’ll find it’s usually right.”
B. Equally be willing to hear the suggestions your partner offers. Let them float, see them from different angles as if through a prism – “ …could this work, what if I look at it that way, or from that angle…?” Become aware of any knee-jerk reactions, andsee what happens if you let them pass, allowing space around them. Train your inner Observer, and be patient. What do you notice, when you don’t lash out/verbally hit back? And what do you really truly want, deep down?
Test out those suggestions with a willing heart. Be open to the possibility that they might actually help! Make a note of what happens. Try going one step further and let yourself accept what is, just for a moment, without trying to change anything about it, yourself, or anyone else.
Hint Four: Be Curious! Be interested in what is really going on. Make this an opportunity to get to know and understand aspects of yourself that have been hidden away in the shadows, leaking out and disturbing your peace and sabotaging your relationships
If you’d like to learn more about how blaming someone or something outside you for your suffering and stress keeps you imprisoned, get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
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