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The Experiment I Tried When I Felt Like I Was 'Complaining' to Others Too Much

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I’m not big on the pressure of New Year’s resolutions. In my opinion, it can be a very ableist-centered tradition which usually focuses on punishing the body — in one form or another — to make it adhere better to the societal molds that are too weak to hold us vibrant, eclectic, diverse human beings. While exhaustive New Year’s resolutions are out for this chronically ill, housebound beauty, this January just happened to fall around the same time I conducted an experiment… on myself. Spoiler alert: it helped!

If you live with a chronic illness you do not need me telling you how many painful flares we can get just from being in a stressful situation or if someone else is being rude or mean… the list goes on, and so do our flares. We do not get away with much in Chronic Pain Land. We’re always on our toes trying to find any way back to a manageable pain baseline. I thought my experiment would be easy peasy. And while I am a huge fan of accepting feelings and going with my gut (unless my gut’s reacting to sneaky gluten Christmas chocolates…”How did they get in here?” *points to chocolate mouth and pays the penalty for days after on the loo* (Still worth it.) Alas, I digress, so my comfort-zone-pusher-out-of-trial was: to not unload any temporary negative feelings I had about myself or another person to other people.

No bitching or complaining is harder than I thought. Especially to refrain from outing those who ruffle your feathers to others — the ones who get on your nerves a bit. The ones who over-explain something as you stand in pain and wither for a point to be made, a period to end the talking. I tell ya, it’s taking a lot of practice to see past my initial reactions and respect personality diversity.

Funnily enough, I felt horrible the day in question, and at the same time, I was actively seeking to be gentle with myself in a way that means I can be there for everyone in my life. With a past history of eating disorders, that part of my mind wanted to text-blast my own body shame to friends to share in the public pool of guilt of over-indulging at Christmas, but I pondered on it a while. How unfair it is that Christmas marketing tells us to roll around in glitter and chocolate indulgence through the holidays, then as quickly as the day after Christmas day, they tell us how disgusting we all look. But if your mind is bashing your body, it’s not your body that has the problem, it’s the mind. So rather than infect my friends and family with these body-shaming thoughts I wanted validated immediately, I chose to change my mind about myself and take care of myself even though I was finding it hard to accept my newest body roll and the fact the Christmas chocolates seemed to increase the inflammatory pain in my body. I decided I am still a good person worthy of peace of mind in spite of my resistance to it.

How does this look in your life? For me it means not picking up the darts my ego carved ready to pin myself or someone else to a board. Even if I convince myself the bullseye to my bad mood is the result of my or their behavior and yet still not my responsibility in either scenario, it’s simply not true. Well, these are new adulting words to my ears, almost people-friendly in their essence because of course, it couldn’t be anything else; the alternative is false  —  that I feel I am apart from others is something my mental illness perpetuates. But my heart is all-inclusive.

The annoyance was just a made-up circumstance my mind triggered and decided it to be real because it served me and no other. Still, neither parties were actively consciously involved — I was on autopilot. That is until I became aware of what I was doing. Now I had a choice! To not message how annoying someone was today and to not take my low-vibe feelings out on others. This simple choice left me with my peace of mind and with a lot of love and respect for the person I tried to nail to my hit-list just hours earlier.

I felt good after — not right away, but the lesson became actualized as I sat with the uncomfortableness of not resorting to my usual tactics. I didn’t smear my mood around social media like a dirty mop being sloshed around the floor. I squeezed that sucker out myself with loving kindness.

I realize this isn’t always going to be the panacea for being pissed off with someone or down on yourself, but for today if you can manage, why not challenge yourself to not talk shit about anyone (that includes you, beautiful soul on the other side of the screen).

  • Put the phone down if the urge to vent comes over you. Step away from your favorite messenger app.
  • If in a heated exchange or if you are just relaying a negative experience to a friend, exhale and say something different than the torrent escalating in your head: “I need a minute here.” or “I don’t want to wallow. Tell me your news instead, that’s much more interesting to me.”
  • Set boundaries for no body-shaming talk with each other.
  • Still feel all the feelings. There’s a place for your rage, anger, frustration and so on. This was outside my comfort zone. I roll my eyes when people tell me to be more positive when I’m neck-deep in the quicksand of my bipolar depression.
  • Love yourself in spite of feeling shitty. Be all: “I’m not going anywhere! I love you and it’s OK to feel like someone took a dump on you today, but I’m still gonna be here loving you even while you eat junk food, especially then.”

The beauty of this exercise is that you’re not negating your emotions, you’re acknowledging it and honoring it by processing it by yourself first. Notice in the first paragraph I said I refrained from sharing temporary negative feelings because if you have disturbing feelings that are sticking around, of course, it is important to share that and not bottle up. Your support network, including The Mighty, serves as a launch pad to your wellness. You are not a burden because you need to download your feelings some days more than others. Tap into every resource you can online and in person. I found my experiment interesting and so instantly wanted to share it with our Mighty Family, but feel free to tell me to stick it up my ass if you’re having a super horrible day and need to vent. I got you. Take care.

Getty image by Iknuitsin Studio.

Originally published: June 27, 2019
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