I am considering a radical experiment.
I’m not sure exactly which aspect of self this experiment will feed – maybe heart, maybe soul, maybe mind? – and I’m not even sure if it will work. But, I’m going to give this experiment a radical, intentional try, with the hope of resolving an issue with which I’ve been grappling.
The issue is this: I have a difficult time dealing with people who are negative. I’ve always struggled with this. I consider myself a pretty positive and optimistic individual. I always pride myself on being a good listener, someone that people can vent to, someone who can offer a sympathetic and non-judgmental ear.
BUT – if I end up spending too much time around people who are consistently negative, it drains me. I think sometimes when I empathize with others, when I express sympathy for a difficulty they’re having, I take on their energy in a way that’s not good for me or anyone. (Interestingly, this does not occur with my clients – this is an issue I specifically deal with in my personal relationships, with family, friends, or co-workers.)
However – I’m human, and sometimes I’m negative, too. I’ll often find myself calling Tee or a friend or knocking on a co-worker’s office door because I need to “vent” about something annoying/angering/irritating that just happened. Sometimes it feels good to vent, but most of the time, for me, it doesn’t. I feel better when I just let things go than when I talk about them and give them more power.
But then, this sets me up for a problem – if I vent my negativity to others, then don’t I owe it to others to allow them time to vent, too? AND, if I contribute to a relationship that becomes centered around venting about similar struggles and annoyances, then aren’t I just ensuring that I’ll have more and more negative interactions throughout my days, weeks, and years?
So, my radical experiment is this: no complaining. No complaining about anything or anyone. No complaining about the adoption wait, bosses, workloads, feeling sick, cramps, or anything. I can write about it in my journal if it needs to be “vented,” or, if appropriate, I can share with Tee, but no one else and only once. (I don’t want to take all the complaining I ever do and dump it in Tee’s lap. That doesn’t seem like nice wifely behavior.)
I will still willingly and lovingly provide a sympathetic ear to others; this change is about me and only me. By cutting out complaining, I am hoping that I will focus more on the positive and maybe encourage others to do so, too.