Choose Confidence Instead of Complaining


I read a post at Steady Mom last week entitled, “Why We Are Addicted to Complaining and How to Stop It“.  It resonated with me, and I found myself thinking about it quite a bit through the weekend.  On my first read, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I know those people.”  And I’m sure you do too.  Those people who are downers to be around, constantly complaining and finding the worst in any otherwise ideal situation.  Isn’t it interesting how much easier it is to see flaws in other people?

I was on my long Saturday run, pounding the pavement while my thoughts streamed at twice the pace of my own two feet.  As I headed up a hill I found myself building in confidence and thinking to myself, “I am going to crush this hill!”  I felt strong and sure.  And then it struck me.  I was running alone that day and my thoughts were totally confident, pushing myself on.  Yet, when I was running with my friends, I often filled the roadside banter with comments like, “I’m totally dragging today.” or “Who’s idea was it to take the course with the all the hills?” 

I spent the next few miles thinking about this difference.  I can’t attribute it to the fabulous pack of gals I usually run with.  They’re certainly not the “downer” type.  And I don’t think I’m a “downer” by nature.  It was right about the time I had my last shot of Clif Bloks that I figured it out (sugar has a way of making things clearer).  I complain when I’m afraid I may fail.  It’s a way of softening the fall, of giving excuses “just in case”.  When I run with others, I worry that I’m holding them back, so I complain about how little sleep I got the night before, or how hard the route may be.  I’m not a hard-core complainer, but the negativity is definitely there.  And I can feel the physical result of that draining energy and negative imagery.

I thought about this for a few more miles, about how preparing to fail can never lead to success.  And I wasn’t just thinking about running now, but life in general.  Why do we complain and focus on the negative when we have the potential to be truly fantastic if we choose it?

Think about the common complaints.  What is really at the core?  Often it is fear of failure.  Whether it’s a complaint about a difficult child or a difficult chemistry test, lacking sleep or lacking funds.  We often complain as a pre-emptive excuse for failure. 

It’s almost as though we think we might get to call a Mulligan if our hardship is worthy enough.  But in all actuality, all we’re doing is verbalizing our belief that we are ultimately destined to fail.  Complaints about a difficult student=Fear of failing to reach her.  Complaints about a house that won’t stay clean=Fear of failing to create a welcoming home.  Unfortunately our minds are so suggestible that our fears and complaints can become self-fulfilling prophecy.

Rather than pointing out the negative, why not make a conscious effort to verbally point out all the reasons we have to succeed?  I’m not suggesting we ignore the challenges in front of us, but acknowledge them and our ability to overcome them.  The hill is still there, but we can take it on!

Some may think this post belongs somewhere else, but I think it applies in every way to those raising and teaching children.  So often we become frustrated with behavior, with funding, with policy, and with people.  But we can also choose to find the bright side.  And the children we love and teach reap the rewards right along with us.

So try it, even for one week.  Whenever you think or speak a complaint, follow it up with a positive statement, a reason why you are more than your circumstance.  You’ll find that when you stop putting  your energy and focus into failure, the strength and aptitude for success was there all along!

Top photo by John Nyberg.
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11 responses to “Choose Confidence Instead of Complaining

  1. Amy

    This is a great essay. How many miles is your long Saturday?

    ( Wish that I was one of your neighbors to get in a few of those with you.)

    • notjustcute

      Amy, I would love to run with you! The run I wrote about was just over 10. I’m running a half-marathon in October, so right now my Saturday runs are between 8 and 14 miles.

  2. Diane Hunt

    LOVED THIS! You are an excellent writer, Mandy. Plus, you know just how to say things without sounding offensive; instead empowering. Thank you!

    Here’s a quote I’d like to add to your post. It has helped me since my BYU college days. The quote puts a bit of a twist on things, reminding us that it’s okay to rise to our potential; it’s okay to do our best. So go ahead and be your best self.

    “We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does NOT serve the world. There is no-thing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the Glory of God that is within us, ALL of us. And as we let our Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our Presence automatically liberates others.”

    Marianne Williamson

    • notjustcute

      Thanks for adding that, Diane! I have always loved that quote and it fits perfectly here! Isn’t it funny that we sometimes have to give ourselves permission to go ahead and be amazing?!? I suppose it’s once again because we’re afraid we’ll fail. But it isn’t so much about what we do as who we are. And we are divine, we are amazing, we just have to let that come through. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  3. I love this. I’ve been having issues with finances since losing my job and recently got a call that our house is *cross fingers* closing at the beginning of October so I’ll be moving back east to live with family. its felt very humiliating and hard and I’ve been crying everyday about it. but finally I was laying in bed and decided to get over myself and told my son the next morning, this is going to be a great adventure and we are going to love it! and he jumped up and down and cheered and now everyday is much better.

  4. Nollie

    Thanks for this post – I find myself falling into this sometimes and it’s good to have a reminder that our words affect how we think and act.

    • notjustcute

      Anything for you, Nollie! I sometimes worry about my inner thoughts translating into words on a screen. I’m glad you found it meaningful.

  5. This post is so inspiring, thank you. Someone once told me, “Behind every complaint is a request.”. This was life changing, now I just state my request happily, instead of complaining. Also, I heard that for every negative comment it takes 5 positive comments to balance it. Five! Using this ratio as best I can creates far more loving relationships.

    • notjustcute

      Oh, I love that quote, Kimberly! It applies as much to us being mindful as the speaker, as it does to being mindful of those we listen to. Thanks for sharing that!

  6. Elizabeth Volkmann

    I couldn’t help but reminded of my favorite quote after reading your post. I try to live up to it but inevitably fail but I keep trying. This quote has been attributed to N. Mandela but I believe it is actually written by Marianne Williamson:
    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
    Thanks for your inspiration!! I am a new follower and am enjoying what you share wth us!

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