Kvetch, Kvetch: Stop Complaining and Control Your Inner Monologue

When we complain about a situation without taking positive action, that negativity is amplified within us, causing us harm. I suggest not verbalizing the complaint. This discipline will spill over into not amplifying or giving power to OCD or intrusive thoughts.

From example: Someone has just been a jerk to you. It’s very tempting to find a person who will agree with you and complain about the wrong. This can easily spiral down into a series of sympathetic complaints that result in no solutions, only toxic energy that builds inside you.

It may be very difficult to stop yourself from complaining. At first you may find yourself saying something like, “I don’t want to complain, but….” Or even, “I am trying to stay positive, but….” That’s not really helpful. If you can just bite the bullet and not bring up the complaint at all in conversation, you will not be reinforcing that negativity within you , nor artificially keeping it alive. Over time, this practice will become more natural.

Of course, if the complaint is directed outwardly in a constructive way, that’s different. In that case, you might be bringing a problem up to someone who can do something about it. Or, you may be brainstorming solutions with other people affected by the problem. But, if you find yourself just shooting the shit with someone and complaining about some stranger’s behavior at the grocery store, that only hurts you.

It’s especially easy to fall into a mutually supportive pattern of complaining about the world with a friend. The topic starts with some outrageous thing a politician did, then moves to global warming, the pandemic… you go back and forth with your friend, from outrage to outrage. It’s like you’re scrolling through Twitter or Facebook. Do you feel good by the end of that conversation? Have you helped make the world a better place? No. At best, you felt in communion with the negativity of another person.

Unless you are in a setting where describing a problem is a step toward solving it, I suggest that you try to stop yourself before you get started. This doesn’t mean avoiding truths or not educating yourself about problems. But it does mean intentionally not verbalizing some complaints that come to mind. As you gain control over your words, you will begin to gain control over your thoughts; just as you’ve stopped yourself from complaining about a stranger’s driving to a friend, you will learn to stop yourself from delving into an internal monolog about the offending stranger. This allows an opening for noticing positivity and love in the world that you might have overlooked while you were focusing on and inflaming your wounds.

Exercise: Spiral Up

Get a friend to try this with you. Have a conversation with the single rule that each contribution must be about something positive, i.e.:

“Beautiful weather out.”

“I know — I went walking in the woods today. The colors were magnificent!”

“Speaking of magnificent colors — I love your shirt.”

“Thanks. I got it at the Afro-Punk festival the other day.”

“I’m so happy festivals are coming back!”

“Me too. But I also just like staying in and hanging out with a good friend like you.”

“Life is good.”

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OCD-Free

OCD-Free

Essays, stories & poetry about OCD, culture and society, by Eric