How To Quit Bitching
Complaining about your life is like leaving the house in period-stained sweat pants, with unmitigated BO & greasy, unwashed hair. Marinating in your personal funk declares a lack of basic hygiene… the sort which people instinctively edge away from.
It’s not like you should only leave the house when you’ve had a blowout or have daubed on a little mascara. It’s about what message you broadcast about who you are… & what you want. Imagine running into someone you haven’t seen for awhile & the first thing out of your mouth is a complaint about the weather or how late your mail arrived. They can’t help but wonder, Is she going through something right now? Is there a crisis afoot?
Bitching is soul funk.
And gratitude? Gratitude is basic spiritual hygiene. Gratitude is like Lady Speedstick for nasty soul funk.
Gratitude has been top of mind for me lately, because I'll soon be cycling out of my first Saturn Return. Saturn Return is basically like astrological boot-camp. You won't make it into your dirty 30s without Papa Saturn straightening out a few character flaws. (Suspect you’re in Saturn Return, too? Check out this post.)
And one of my deepest, scratched-into-my-core character flaws?
Complaining about my life. Often.
At first, I didn't realize Saturn Return was tasking me to address my soul-funk. I only noticed that “venting” (slang for complaining) now prompted tension headaches that lasted for hours. I blamed the tension headache on the "problems" themselves…
"I wish I'd never accepted that scholarship! They have sooo many demands, & I'm like, what about MY life, you know?!" "I'm sooo busy, just so tired, like, all I have time for is Netflix, reading poetry for class, & taking trips to the FroYo parlor, it's like, how am I supposed to find TIME?"
By mid-Return, I knew the pain was inextricable from my attitude. That heavy Saturnine vibe was bearing down, urging me to simplify my grievances. The more I resisted, the more fatigued I felt. I started canceling get-togethers. I was energy poor (which means nothing was firing for me, spirit or magic-wise). It felt like I had a crack running up from my sternum, across my forehead, & down the back of my skull.
I spent a lot of time with Netflix.
If you're vibing with what I’m saying--that you’ve got to make a similar change while having no idea where to begin--stick with me. I’m going to show you a few techniques to help you quit bitching…
…& start blossoming with energy richness!
And if you’ve been flirting with the idea, these tactics will also help you kickstart a gratitude practice!
THE POWER OF GRATITUDE
Did you know: your heart sends more information to your brain than your brain sends to your heart? In fact, the heart holds over 40,000 neurons.
So, the symbolism is obvious: Opening up your heart is the first step to opening up your mind.
The heart & brain are more intertwined than any other 2 organs in the body. If you were hooked up to an EKG machine while you were gossiping with your girl gang over tapas, your heart-rate would look totally staccato on the monitor. Jagged, sharp, stressed. Because of the heart’s direct linkage with the brain, your brainwaves would also start spiking all over its own EKG monitor.
The heart & the brain want to synch up. When they’re synced, you feel good. And the activities that knock your heart & brain out of alignment (activities like bitching, gossiping, or generally chewing on the densest, negative emotions you can) coincidentally are the activities that tend to make you feel worse.
But according to the HeartMath Institute, you can switch up your heart-rate within minutes--sometimes in only a minute. The Institute calls it the Coherence Technique & it's basically a meditative hack for achieving bio-neuro-physio-psychological harmony.
You probably hear a lot about the powerful effect of gratitude. Well, the HeartMath Institute demonstrates the science. (Here's the link again.) The core action of the Coherence Technique is melting into the flow of appreciation, which naturally aligns the heart & mind. No prescription necessary.
And it's extremely simple. Ordinary & undramatic.
You can start living in heart-brain alignment. Right now.
UNLOCKING THE POWER OF GRATITUDE
Here's how I go at the Coherence Technique: When I feel the urge to complain billow up inside me, I close my eyes, cover my heart, & ask, What totally gratifying moments have I experienced before this?
Then, in my imagination, I re-experience my grateful accomplishments. Like, that time I ponied-up & mastered driving stick when a tornado suddenly blew in (it happened within 5 minutes!), or that other time I whipped up an A+ paper in 45 minutes on the Notes application on my phone. (The professor still uses the paper as an example.)
The key to the Coherence Technique is immersion. The process takes about 3-5 minutes. I start with the memory, which takes only a couple seconds, but try to recollect specific sensory details, which takes longer. Once I home in & get immersed, I let the sweet, glow-y feelings saturate my body from inside out. It’s like someone pouring a bowl of calm all over my body.
Focusing on those gratifying moments totally sucks the wind out of my bitching sails. I lose the urge to gossip, whine, or sigh in that huffy, indignant sort of way. I can feel the sensation of heart & brain melting together. It’s like relief combined with peace of mind.
Instead of focusing on grateful accomplishments, I sometimes close my eyes & just mentally list things I love: balmy overcast days; pairing gold-and-aquamarine rings with hot pink-colored nails; flying down the freeway late at night. Trivial stuff, but when piled together, it’s like an avalanche of perfect, ooey-gooey private bliss.
The objective is to interrupt the urge to bitch by stimulating feelings of capability & self-assurance. The experience makes you realize: Oh yeah, in the grand scheme of things, whatever it is I want to complain about isn't even worth mentioning.
Here’s the basic Coherence Technique recipe: Start by covering your heart with your hands. Close your eyes or keep them open. Call to mind & re-experience the things you love or on those grateful accomplishments. Bask in the sweet, glow-y feeling of that gratitude. You can do this for as long as feels good or set a timer for about 5 minutes if you like.
(Need a demonstration? Here's a YouTube audio clip to guide you through the meditation. Tony Robbins shared something very similar on Tim Ferriss's podcast, if you want to hear some real-time comments of the effects.)
TAKING A MO’ TO GET REAL ABOUT WHY YOU BITCH
We co-create our lives. Everything you want to improve can be traced back to something you happily ushered into your life.
I would never have admitted this if I hadn't started using the Coherence Technique--I would still loudly & theatrically be justifying all my complaints on uncontrollable conditions, like the mailman's tardiness or, you know, society.
But it's a choice. Really. Not the conditions themselves, but the response. Complaining is reactive. To co-create reality means taking an active response to your life.
So, when you have those pains & foibles, the stuff that makes you want to complain about your problems, ask yourself: what can I create from this?
"I accepted his proposal, which is why I can't stop complaining about him to my mom & my friends. I feel trapped. I need to return the ring & take time for myself." "I bought every single thing on that credit card statement. I love every single thing on that statement. I'll have my cake & eat it too, I guess--which means cutting up the card & picking up a side-hustle."
If cut 'n dry solutions don't present themselves, it's time to just get proactive. Envision an ideal outcome (where the problem no longer exists or aggravates you) & work backwards. How do you get from here to there? What would eliminate this problem from your life?
For me, working backwards from a vision spotlighted how I was actually building more reasons to bitch into my life. I complained about achievements, because I didn't actually want them--I should've just tried being proactive about accomplishments & experiences I do want.
But what I'm doing, I feel, is the most important kind of self-improvement I could do, because it gives me something I can't buy or invent on my own: the clarified ability to co-create my life.
And creativity needs a tonnn of juice. If you want to lead an enchanted life, then every drop is already spoken for. There’s simply nothing left for whining about what you’ve already created & loathe. Redirect the energy towards recreating the sitch.
EXTRA TACTICS FOR GETTING AHEAD OF YOUR LUST FOR BITCHING
To be sure: I am not cured of my bitching habit. I'm pretty sure it's like smoking; I'll start right back up again in times of overwhelm.
Doing the Coherence Technique gave me clarity. It's now a tactic in my aggression against bitchiness.
Before I sign off, here are a few other helpful tactics:
Invent a gratitude practice.
For me, it's listing Things I Love in my diary every morning around 10AM. Some people list their favorite things on Twitter or Tumblr. Some people write what their grateful for on post-its & collect them over the wall. You can use the Q: What In My Life Did I Create? as a prompt, then answer it in your diary or audio record yourself on your smartphone's Voice Memo app.
Re-train your friends.
You teach people how to treat you, so don't resent your friends & family for coming at you ready to vent, gossip, & commiserate. When they launch into a rabble, inwardly list Things I Love. ("I love fresh coffee, I love little baby feet, I love that I've got the cinema to look for to...") Withhold emotional responses. ("Gasp!" "Oh really?" "What did you say?", etc.) Ask them, "What are you doing about that?" If all else fails, change the subject.
Mix in energy medicines.
I show you 3 energy medicines I personally use in this post. When you feel yourself sinking into that draggy feeling that makes you whisk up your phone to call someone & bitch, do a little tapping, or crystal smudging, or a full-out energy detox. All the energy medicines I share in that post are easy to do once you practice. No purchase necessary.
Know any other funk-vanquishing tactics? Tweet them to me!
In the meantime, have a sweet, glow-y weekend!