Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blaming and Complaining

Blaming and complaining - the story of my life for the first part of my adulthood.  If I was talking that's what I was doing.  If I was thinking, that's what I was doing.  When I was driving alone in the car, I told myself my sad stories.  If I wrote a poem, it was a whine.  I spent a lot of time on the phone with certain friends who either liked to blame and complain or who were willing to listen to me.

Blaming and complaining gave me a kind of high.  Adrenaline surged through me as I tried to make my life better by doing what I thought would work.  After awhile though, I would start to feel depressed and tired.  So I'd sleep, wake up, and do it all over again the next day.

I had plenty to complain about too.  I've never run across anybody that I've told my sad stories to who didn't agree that I had had bad treatment by life and the people in my life.  So sad.  So true.

On the other hand, my blaming and complaining never changed anything. 

When I'd had enough pain and finally asked for help from somebody who was immune from being sucked into my whining, I experienced a continuous series of revelations.  I'm still having revelations.  The first few were pretty tough to take, but the woman I had asked for help was someone I trusted to know what she was talking about.  I could look into her eyes and see it.  She was pointing out all the options I had that I didn't know about, and that was all she was doing.  At first, though, I felt as if she was saying everything was my fault.

I resisted taking the actions she was suggesting because it felt like admitting everything was my fault.  But just like everything else, I finally had suffered enough to try something she suggested.  (She used to say sadly, "I guess you haven't hurt enough yet to be willing to change.")  When I tried it, it was a simple action but it was me taking responsibility for myself.  And it worked!  I had some kind of spiritual awakening.  Until that moment I had firmly believed that the only solution to someone else's bad behavior was for them to change--preferably along with a groveling apology.

I wish I could say that from that day forward, I stopped blaming and complaining.  But that's not what happened.  I had to learn over and over again to wrestle with my mental habit of looking outside myself for solutions to the problems that I thought were coming from outside myself.  Turns out that both problems and their solutions were all inside me.  My perspective; my point of view were the source of them both.

Over time I've had other teachers.  One of them said that my blaming and complaining were just symptoms of my effort to not feel the grief of my losses.  I've come to believe this is true.  Little kids fight when they don't get their way.  Sometimes they show it on the outside.  Sometimes they hold it in.  But we all fight against not getting what we want.  For example, for sure what I wanted was for the people I loved to stay on the earth.  But some of them have left me here without them.  But the blaming and complaining about their loss, is certainly futile and never made me feel one bit better.

A better way, a more grown up way, is to be mindful of my losses.  To honor them in my heart by acknowledging the gifts they brought and feel the loss fully.  If I do that even for a little while, my grief eventually turns to gratitude and so do my urges to blame and complain.

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