In our feelings of helplessness about the conditions of life, we complain. Everyone complains. We moan and groan about our aches and pains, yet we don’t truly change our diet, or take that yoga class the doctor advised us to. Our romantic partner will not give us the love we want, but in our anger, we complain and deny love to them. Everything is complained about, from personal problems to sociopolitical problems. Complaining can serve the helpful purpose of letting us hit rock bottom about our problems, or more likely, it is an effort to trash our sense of responsibility and displace it onto something outside ourselves.
In addiction recovery programs, there is a remarkable tool that is one of the cornerstones to serenity and recovery: acceptance.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
A little whining can go along way toward making changes if we are willing to do more than just complain. One of our mottos around here is: Nothing Changes, if Nothing Changes. If conditions suck, and we can’t take it any longer, then we want to try to change them. Our complaints can be a way of sharing ourselves, sharing our discomfort, and getting our needs met. Our self expression can be a way of freeing ourselves from internal discomfort while we make actual, practical choices to move forward. Complaining can also be a way of ventilating feelings of fear about change, and help us accept responsibility for the changes that are within our control. The key is acceptance. Finding peace of mind (and serenity) comes from how much we are willing to accept life, on life’s terms. Can we accept the conditions in our life? If we can’t, can we develop a sense of healthy (reasonable expectation) responsibility and take the first steps to change the conditions we don’t like?