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Are you a complainer? There is nothing wrong with venting every now and then. And voicing genuine concerns and standing up for yourself is a must.
However, being a chronic complainer is not just annoying and unattractive. It can also have negative energetic consequences for the life you are trying to attract and manifest.
In Part III of Big Magic, the April pick for Best Life Book Club, author Elizabeth Gilbert gives us four reasons to stop complaining if we want to live a purposeful, authentic, and creative life.
Reason #1 to Stop Complaining: It’s Annoying
I had a friend in high school who pulled me aside one day after I was complaining about my crazy extra-curricular schedule or how many AP tests I had to take the next week or something like that. She told me that everyone was fed up with my complaining and that all our friends found it really annoying. I was shocked. She ended with the typical high school frenemy line: “I just thought you should know.”
I didn’t think I was complaining any more than any other teenage girl confiding in her friends at lunch time, but apparently I was wrong. Although I never actually verified the truth of her story (whether the verdict on my annoyingness was really that unanimous), the thought of others rolling their eyes and groaning behind my back when I started talking broke my heart. I was so mortified that I stopped complaining then and there. I made sure to never say anything negative ever again because I wanted so much for my peers to like me.
Now, I’m not saying we should take it to that extreme. I have since worked on swinging the pendulum back so that it’s still on the sunny side but closer to center.
But here’s the thing about complainers: They are annoying and nobody likes them. And if somebody says they like your complaining, they are either being nice or have a toxic personality that you should think twice about having in your life.
Scroll through your mental Rolodex right now and think about it. Nobody likes a Negative Nancy. They bring the mood down and are not fun to be around. If we want to attract fun, inspiring, and supportive people in our life, we should radiate that same energy. This means there is no room for chronic complaining.
Reason #2 to Stop Complaining: Your Complaints are Obvious
Complaining is extra annoying when the complaints are about obvious things.
Now again, there is nothing wrong with venting, but when our complaints are about obvious things that don’t require much insight or advice from our friends (and aren’t even entertaining for them at the very least!), they are pointless.
In Big Magic, Liz Gilbert focuses on the obvious difficulties of living a creative life. It’s uncertain, it’s risky, and it’s full of heartbreaking and demoralizing rejection. But those difficulties are obvious. In fact, Gilbert says that these well known difficulties are precisely why not everyone can handle a creative life.
That’s why so many people go to law school instead! (Gilbert doesn’t say that. That’s my two cents.)
A corollary to this reason to stop complaining is that we can’t really complain about a life we chose. Imagine the stereotypical starving artist complaining day in and day out that they are starving because nobody pays for art these days. What is your knee jerk reaction to a complaint like that? If you’re so hungry, find another job. One that pays a regular paycheck and puts more food on your table. Nobody forced you to be an artist.
This advice is Gilbert’s harshest in my opinion. And while she doesn’t state this in Big Magic, I would add that this reason to stop complaining goes for all difficult jobs, not just creative ones. If you are working a soul-crushing office job, you don’t get to complain day in and day out either. After awhile, it’s up to you make a change, not just keep complaining about obvious difficulties like being overworked, underpaid, and missing your family.
Reason #3 to Stop Complaining: Nobody’s Listening Anyway
This reason to stop complaining is comforting and disheartening at the same time. Gilbert says that everybody’s too focused on their own problems to care much about yours. So why bother complaining? Complaints that fall on deaf ears just pollute the air with negative energy and nothing more.
In fact, forget the other person’s reaction to our complaints for a second. If nobody’s really listening to our complaints anyway, that means we aren’t getting anything out of complaining either. We are just giving more energy to the negative things in our lives and allowing ourselves to stew and obsess over them. And, since we attract what we think about the most, we will attract more negativity to us with futile complaining.
Reason #4 to Stop Complaining: You Are Blocking Inspiration
Speaking of the law of attraction, the ultimate reason to stop complaining is that it will attract more negativity rather than creative inspiration and opportunities.
Last week, we read about Gilbert’s theory of creative genius. She says that geniuses are actually separate entities (think of them like little house elves, if you will) that present us with creative ideas to bring to life. However, our genius won’t approach us unless we are ready, willing, and open to receive inspiration.
If we are complaining all the time, especially about our creative pursuits, then the genius will just assume that we don’t want to be bothered. And, our creative well will run dry.
This concept makes sense in terms of the law of attraction as well. If we send out positive vibes of gratitude and openness, then we are signaling to the universe (or to our genius, in this case) that we are ready to receive the abundance of creative inspiration, success, collaboration, recognition, fame, and whatever else we desire. But if we are constantly complaining about rejection letters or the lack of sales or writer’s block or gigs that don’t pay a cent, we are emitting a different frequency. We are telling the universe (or our genius, in this case) that we are not ready or interested to create so stay away!
Which of these reasons resonates with you most?
Of the four reasons to quit complaining that Elizabeth Gilbert lists in Big Magic, which resonates most with you? Which of them are most persuasive? And do you find any of them to be unconvincing? Let me know in the comments below!