If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s complaining.
Whoops – was that a complaint?
See how easy it is to get caught up in complaining instead of doing something about whatever it is that’s bothering you? No one’s immune to complaining. But, some people are better than others at stopping negative thoughts from taking over.
I’ve always been a glass-half-full type of person. I like to at least try to see positivity in everything. No, it’s not easy, but it’s possible. Still, I’d be a big fat liar if I said that I never complained about anything.
Complaining has this weird, false sense-of-security thing it gives you. It might make you feel better about something temporarily. But, does it do anything to help you fix a problem long-term? Absolutely not. All it does is send you into a spiral of negative thinking. You could be using your time more productively by coming up with solutions to a problem instead of stewing on it.
I’m pretty good at catching myself when I start complaining. It still happens though, and I want it to stop already. It’s part of a whole self-improvement process I’m putting myself through that includes reducing anxiety, finding coping mechanisms for stress, and living more in-the-moment.
When I came across a book called, No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy by Cianna P. Stewart, I knew I had to get my hands on it.
Cianna once was a complainer too. One day, she decided to quit and focus on the positives in her life. What resulted is something she calls The No Complaining Project, in which she helps others learn how to “Go NoCo” to live a more rewarding life.
About No Complaints and Going NoCo
This book is like a life manual and journal in one. In each section, Cianna offers actionable tips to help move you through the process of quitting your complaining. Then, she provides insightful questions to help you take a deeper look at your thoughts and actions.
And, she gives it all to you in a non-judgy way. You won’t feel like crap about yourself after reading. In fact, there’s a whole lot of super-motivational stuff inside that stems from Cianna’s decade-long research on complaining and its effects on people. Here’s one of my favorite lesson introductions from the book that talks about the fear behind being proactive in your thoughts and actions:
The questions that correspond to the lessons are personal. They’re uncomfortable. But, they’re there to help you learn to control your thoughts and turn them into something positive. For example, here are a couple of questions from the lesson above:
Think about a difficult situation which you have not addressed directly even though it aggravates you. What action would you need to take in order to resolve this? What is in the way of you taking this action? Are you willing to take this action?
See what I mean? Cianna wastes no time jumping in there and making you see what you’re doing and what you could be doing differently. I love her approach.
My favorite thing about the process of Going NoCo, though, is how Cianna ties in doing good for others with our own positivity. In lesson 51, she talks about how practicing goodwill and paying more attention to others can make you more mindful others and their situations.
It’s part of Section 4, which is all about Replacement. In other words, the tactics in this section are designed to help you replace your complaints with something actionable. These good habits can start to replace your habits of negative thinking.
Time to get positive!
Q & A with Cianna
I was really intrigued by Cianna’s story that led her to found The No Complaining Project. She used to be a complainer, too, but some circumstances in her life led her to change her thinking by becoming more mindful of everything going well in her life.
It’s perfect proof that anyone with a desire to move toward more positive thinking can do it. So, I prepped some questions for Cianna to probe her a little about her NoCo philosophy, how she makes it work so well, and advice for others who want to go NoCo.
Amy: What would you say has been your biggest challenge in “Going NoCo” since you made the decision to do it?
Cianna: Initially, I found it hard to stop being snarky or sarcastic. That was a major part of my humor. I would criticize or complain through humor. Ultimately it’s kind of distancing and comes from a sense of superiority which is pretty unattractive. I’ve had to work on that one.
I still have a hard time in certain environments where people are complaining a lot. I don’t go around telling people what to say or how to act. But when I’m in a group that just keeps hashing over the same thing or is in a complaint spiral, I find I just can’t participate. I’ll stay quiet. Sometimes I have to leave.
These days my ongoing struggle is dealing with my inner critic. I consider the inner critic to be complaining to myself about myself and it’s not healthy or productive. My inner critic can be pretty mean. I still get down on myself and have to work through that but it’s been getting easier over time. It’s easier for me to turn it around into motivating myself to fix a problem. That happens more quickly for me now.
A: In your opinion, what makes it so difficult for people to see what’s in front of them and how they might be able to change it, rather than do something about it?
C: There are so many reasons. I’ve been surprised by how many people are simply unaware of their own complaining habits, even if they’re aware of other people complaining around them. A lot of time people feel justified about feeling put out and so think they’re just “telling it how it is.” We also live in such a culture of complaining that many people simply don’t notice the number of small complaints they say on a daily basis. Or at least they don’t notice until someone offers an alternative.
For major complaints, the biggest reason is that often times admitting that there’s a problem puts pressure on someone to change and change can be really hard. It’s easier to stay with what you know (even if it sucks) than to step into the unknown. Also, many people don’t have confidence that they have what it takes to make a big change, or the strength to confront something (or someone) that’s causing the problem.
A: What suggestions would you give to someone who has gone NoCo when they catch others complaining? Is there anything you’d suggest them telling that person so that they might be motivated to stop complaining?
C: The most powerful thing each of us can do is to share our stories of success. If going NoCo has helped you, tell other people. You shouldn’t really do this as a direct response to someone complaining, though. Most people don’t take it well when others tell them what to do.
If you do want to quiet someone’s complaining, one technique that I find helps is to share that you’ve decided to stop complaining and ask for the other person’s help. Share that the current conversation is triggering your own urges to complain and let them know that you’d like to change the topic. Putting the focus on your own experience is a way to interrupt the momentum of complaining in a way that can’t be argued by someone else.
It’s also useful to introduce NoCo Zones – certain times or places which you declare as complaint-free. This is great if you have control over a particular place or time like in your car or office or at the dinner table (especially if you cooked!).
A: I love that, in the book, you suggest devoting some of your attention to giving positive thoughts to others, rather than dwelling on yourself and your needs. What are some other ways that people can practice positivity in their daily lives?
C: Gratitude is one of the most powerful anti-complaining things you can do. Give some time and attention to little things in your life which support you, like if you have access to running water or electricity or can read – someone else helped make that happen.
I find it super-valuable to push myself to see things from others’ point of view, to imagine what might be going on for them, to get some empathy for another way of being in the world. We spend so much of our lives focused on ourselves and our needs. It’s important to consciously make a choice to flip that around to see the world outside ourselves and how we impact others.
A fun one is to practice pronoia – the suspicion that others want the best for you, that people secretly want to help you. The truth is we don’t really know what others are thinking so why not imagine that they’re thinking really good things?
Win a Copy of No Complaints!
Want to win a copy of Cianna’s book, No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy? If so, use the form below to get your entries in. The giveaway starts on 2/26/18 and runs through 3/11/18. *Winner’s name, email, phone number, and mailing address will be forwarded to the sponsor for prize fulfillment.
It’s time for you to stop complaining and start living!
What do you catch yourself complaining about the most in your life? How does complaining impact you? Think you can Go NoCo? Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram and keep the conversation rolling!
* I received a complimentary copy of Cianna P. Stewart’s “No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy” to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are my own and I only share things with you, my readers, that I believe can bring value to your lives.
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.