I have a dear friend Lisa who on more than one occasion seems to be front and center as I begin new forays on my spiritual journey. If you’ve read my book Hot Mess to Mindful Mom, a conversation with her was the catalyst which ultimately led to the start of my meditation practice. Well, there is a lot more to it, but she was involved in a big way! You’ll have to read the full story in my book because it is crazy awesome how it all happened!

This summer Lisa invited me to attend a workshop with her at our yoga studio. I had no clue what it was really about, but she said something about learning to complain less. I had a previous engagement so it didn’t look like I’d be able to go, but last minute it was cancelled. I took it as a sign that the Universe was opening up the time and space for me to attend, and I should definitely go.

Once again, Lisa was my guide, and my summer was filled with more depth, self-reflection, and growth because I followed her lead. I don’t know if I have officially said thank you, so THANK YOU Lisa!!

The owner of the studio led the workshop, and she is authentic, funny, and extremely relatable. She did a fantastic job and sucked me in immediately. The workshop was based on the teachings of Will Bowen from the book “Complain Free World.” The goal afterward was to complete a 21 day consecutive complaint free challenge.

Now would be a great time to mention that I am always up for a challenge, especially in the name of self-improvement. She had me at hello!

We learned a ton that day including:

how our emotional states are affected by complaining
how complaining affects your health and relationships
why people complain
how to turn complaints around
the four stages of change around complaining

I was shocked to find out that the average person complains 15-30 times a day. Complaints come out that we aren’t even aware of. I decided that I wanted to break this cycle and really commit to the challenge.

We each received a band to keep on our wrist to remind us about the challenge. If we complained we had to move the band to our opposite wrist, and the 21 days of no complaining started over. Complaints were included, obviously, but so was gossiping, which is another form of negativity not allowed in the challenge.

The first few days were a tad confusing because it was hard to tell the difference between a complaint and a statement. You were allowed to make a statement to someone if you were upset about something, as long as your intention wasn’t simply to bitch, but to improve the situation and get help and perspective from that person. For example, I could tell my husband I was upset about something that someone said to me, as long as I was talking about it in order to get to a better place about it.

I decided to use a tactic to help me which really simplified matters. I teach all the time about the “yums” and the “yucks” and how when we get confused in our head, our body can help us understand how we really feel by the signals that it gives us and the feelings that we have.

If I said something that gave me a “yuck” feeling in my gut, and I wished I hadn’t said it, or felt some sort of regret than I changed my band.

Even though I think of myself as a very positive person, and I always try to bring my best energy to each and every moment, I complained waaaaaay more than I thought! I thought I would fly through the challenge in 21 days and I didn’t.

I started on July 10th, and finished on September 25th. And none of it felt effortless.

I am pretty sure that I finished the challenge in stage 3 where you are aware of wanting to complain but you are able to stop it from actually coming out. I am not sure that I ever made it to stage 4, where you don’t have to ever think about not complaining anymore and you are totally retrained. Your brain literally doesn’t form complaints anymore. I still have some work to do to get there.

Here are some takeaways from the challenge:

I not only had thoughts that embarrassed me, but I let things come out of my mouth that weren’t necessary and didn’t make me feel good.
Not complaining is hard, especially around other people that complain!
I still have work to do. It would be really easy since I never made it to stage 4 to let complaints slip out here and there, but I don’t want to go back to feeling crappy about things I say. I am staying the course.
Complaining is an excellent mirror for where your insecurities are. Be an investigator as these feelings arise.
I actually DO have a filter when I slow down enough to use it 🙂

Even though I completed the challenge from a sheer force of will, I feel far from finished with this. I have come really, really far, but I still have room to grow and I am excited to keep going!

Would you even consider trying the challenge? If so, comment below! And, if you have done it, I want to know about your experience!

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