10 Ways To Complain Less and Appreciate More

White Bleeding Heart 3

Written by Terri Crosby for In Care of Relationships

One practice that doesn’t work well in relationships — pretty much anywhere, any time — is complaining. No surprise there, but why does complaining have such a detrimental effect? If I’m complaining, my fingernails are on the personal chalkboard of the person to whom I’m complaining.  I might not consciously intend to be creating such a racket on their chalkboard while I’m venting my negative feelings, but if I am complaining, be assured — that’s what I’m doing.
  • Complaining is loud and dissonant.  It’s (really, really) bad music.  Listeners just change stations and tune you out.
  • Complaining is a slow and rugged road to nowhere.  You’ll have mud up to your rocker panels in no time.
  • Complaining or criticizing invites defense and justification from others.  If I take my big bow and arrow of criticism, and aim it at your heart, are you likely to stand there and take the shots?  Probably not.  You might feel compelled to explain your side of the story — or leave.  Criticism is the death knell of relationships.
See what I mean?  Inefficient. According to researcher John Gottman, contempt is the #1 thing that breaks couples apart.  Contempt and disapproval are housed in complaints.  You can put a fancy roof on a house of complaints, put lovely curtains in the windows or plant flowers in all the right places, but it doesn’t make the contempt “un-feelable.” On the other hand, kindness is good glue in a successful relationship.  Kindness creates a culture of respect and appreciation.

Developing Kindness 

water flowers 1It is my belief that we treat others like we treat ourselves. Oops. Couples who developing a culture of kindness in their relationship are usually skilled at translating and transforming a complaint into what’s needed or wanted. For example, instead of:
  • “why don’t you ever help me with….”
  • “why didn’t you tell me you were going to be late… you left me waiting… “
  • “you don’t bring me flowers anymore…”

10 Ways To Appreciate More

  1. Notice what’s working.  Notice when the person does help and when s/he pitches in and communicate a simple “thank you for stopping for groceries on the way home.”  Say thank you for the small things.
  2. Say why.  Tell your partner why their assistance makes a difference.  Sometimes partners don’t realize how their help changed your day.  They don’t know that doing that errand for you gave you the creative capacity to come up with an idea for your business that will benefit both of you, or gave you time to read a special bedtime story to your daughter and connect with her.  Maybe we think it should be obvious to our partner how much their assistance helps us or why.  But they are not psychic.  Tell them.  Spell it out.  Let them know.  It’s music to their ears.
  3. Get more information.  You may not know why your friend or partner or business associate was late.  There is probably more to the story.  Start by giving the benefit of the doubt.  Calm down and collect more facts.
  4. Acknowledge positive intent.  Maybe your partner didn’t intend to be late, but they stopped to get a gift for you on the way, or do a special favor for a friend, and it took longer than they planned.    Hey, sometimes we have good intentions, and a less than perfect delivery.  It happens to all of us.
  5. Realize it’s probably not personal.  Did you take someone’s actions personally?  Don’t fall for being the center of the universe.  It’s not always about you.Tunnel 1
  6. Be responsible for your  reaction.  You’re in charge of your reactions or responses.  You’re the chooser.  Nobody is doing anything to you.  You have many choices.
  7. Learn to soften your reaction.  When you’re upset, say to yourself, “This is my trigger button (something I react to) and I can soften my reaction to anything, if I realize it’s my reaction.  I can find a thought that relaxes me, and gets everybody off the hook.  Like “this, too, shall pass” or “this will not seem so important in a few hours” or “there are lots of ways to respond to this situation, and I picked one way.” Or “What if there is a good reason it happened this way?”  This takes some practice.  What relaxes you is unique to you, so experiment.  Learn how to talk yourself down off the cliff.
  8. Get over yourself.  If you’re mad as a hornet, or defensive, you have lost your ability to problem solve or think creatively.  Give yourself a chance to calm down before you tackle solutions.
  9. Stop suffering.  If you’re suffering, you’re not in a place to help yourself or anyone else.  Suffering comes from seeing through a pinhole instead of a picture window.  If you’re in emotional pain, you’re thinking too small.  Open up your thinking.
  10. How is this helping me?  Know that everything is for you (not against you.)  If everything is for you, then how might this situation be there to help you?  Brainstorm it.  Think outside the box.  Give yourself a break.  Sometimes I say to myself, “I don’t know how this is helping me, and I’m happy to find out.”
See?  Wasn’t that easy?  Instead of a stream of what I don’t want and why it’s wrong, I can translate that into what I do want, what I’d prefer, or what I’m aiming for. And I can say that.  And be that. Good for me!  Things are looking up already!

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For more information about In Care of Relationships, click here.

About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant.  I love really good food, good friends, good relationships!

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Terri Crosby

Helping you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love. Follow me on twitter at@TerriCrosby or read myblog.

Comments (0)

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    shiner

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    I have a quote by my desk “Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere”. Complaining falls into that bracket as well!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Terri Crosby

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      Yes! Your quote about worry is so visual. You just stay in one place, usually all by yourself. :–)

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Althea

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    Wonderful blog, Terri!

    Reply

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    altheago

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    wonderful blog, Terri! Something I’m always working on!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Terri Crosby

      |

      Thank you Althea! Yes, I think we all work on being more appreciative! Sometimes it’s easier than others!

      Reply

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She’s Got Love Fingers

Christie Lenee can play a guitar. She’s the 2017 International Finger Style Guitar Champion of the Year. In September of last year in London, she also won Acoustic Guitarist of the Year.

But lucky for us, she’s not just a champion guitar player. Christie Lenee is also quite the composer.

A friend of hers, Michael Pukac, requested that she write a song, one he described as “the story of love.” She scribbled notes and went to work.

Through Christie’s ability to imagine, his desire became music. Now she plays this song for the world with her love fingers. Lucky you, lucky me, lucky us.

Take very good care of yourself this week. Why not sing a little…

Love,

Terri

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Rise Up by Andra Day

What a great set of words for these oncoming days.

Rise Up

 
You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
Bring it to its feet
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
And we will rise
We will rise
We’ll rise, oh, oh
We’ll rise
I’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we’ll rise up
High like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
Ah, ah, ah, ah
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Cassandra Monique Batie / Jennifer Decilveo
Rise Up lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Rippling Abs, Anyone?

Rippling Abs, Anyone?

During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
 
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
 
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
 
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
 
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
 
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
 
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
 
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
 
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
 
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
 
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
 
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
 

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