No, not Martha Stewart, Martha Beck, author and life coach. I got up a couple of mornings ago feeling kind of down about my leg (which I've not blogged about lately). And then I read Martha's Oprah article called, Anti-Complain Campaign. I could use a little of this!
The article was about this very successful woman who sparkled. She had a great business and was successful in all that she did. Her philosophy in life was that she was determined not to complain. She had also not lived an easy life, being widowed at a young age, and she admitted that she had done her share of complaining. After a while, she decided to stop ... and to put her energy into her life to make good things happen. The complaining was dragging her down.
Martha talks about sometimes whining herself, but at other times takes a venting vacation. Here are her suggestions:
For a period of time, say a week or a month, stop complaining aloud about anything, to anybody.
When the urge to fuss arises, vent on paper. Start with the words "I'm upset about." Then describe whatever's bothering you.
Think of at least one thing you can do to actually change the frustrating situation. Write it down.
you can't think of any positive action steps, simply continue to resist
venting out loud. Eventually, your frustration will increase until you
think, "I'm so upset I just want to…" Write down what you want to do.
it. Divorce the guy, cuss in front of your fundamentalist sister, put
off lunching with the passive-aggressive "friend" until the end of time.
OK, I'm going to give this a try. Anyone game? Want to join me? A week, or a month? I'll start with a week. Hmmm ... the possibilities. I may solve my problem(s) if I don't complain and instead get active. Imagine that.
Martha also wrote about the psychology of this. She said that when people are stressed and let off steam or pressure they do it in one of three ways. They either try to keep it in and then end up exploding. Or, they vent or complain, letting off a little of the pressure, but keeping them in a holding pattern of tolerable misery and changing nothing ... which might be good or not, depending on the situation. The third way of releasing pressure is harnessing the power of frustration (the venting fast is a way of taking steps in this direction!).
She uses Gandhi as an example and quotes him: "It is not that I do not get angry," said Gandhi.
"I do not give vent to anger." On another occasion he wrote, "As heat
conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can
be transmuted into a power which can move the world."
I buy that! Martha ends by saying that if we can try and survive the "venting fast" we could be heading to greater places in our lives. And though she perversely enjoys the pressure release of recreational venting too much to give it up for life, she aspires to live a vent-free life and reach her full potential.
OK. Do I get one more vent before I start?? Anyone inspired to join me?