On Tuesday, while I was waiting for a client in a hospital cafeteria, I overheard a conversation between two physicians who were talking about their frustration with their office manager. Sitting close by I couldn’t help but notice how much time, strong feelings, and energy they invested in the problem. They kept repeating details of the situation and how they felt about the incompetence of the individual. At the end, they got up both looking frustrated and one physician said, “let’s see how much longer we have to put up with him.”

When you consider the notion that we are no greater than the thoughts we think and that we are defined by the stories we tell ourselves, complaining about something without doing anything to change it, takes on a whole new meaning.  While talking about a problem is a normal (and important) way of working through the difficulties in life, fixating on it can end up magnetizing the very thing we most want to avoid. When we complain, whine, throw tantrums, moan or gossip about what isn’t working in our work and lives, we may find that the problem persists or even shows up in a whole new form.

Just think about the strategy behind what we do. For example, if you complain about the performance or behavior of an individual in your practice you probably:

  • Continuously get frustrated when the individual doesn’t do the task that you asked them to do
  • Talk with peers about how bad or incompetent the person / situation is
  • Compare the person with others who really had it together but left for reasons that you still can’t understand.
  • Go to bed at night still ruminating about the situation (and not getting enough sleep).

Again, some of these may be useful ways to process the challenges we face in life,but when we get stuck on the problem alone without adding positive actions, we could end up contributing to it.

Now, imagine what might happen if you used these same strategies to your advantage to resolve the situation with the individual so you can bring more harmony, productivity, and collaboration to your practice. What could that look like for you? Examples could include:

  • Schedule meetings with the individual to get to the core of the issue and co-create solutions and best practices.
  • Acknowledge him / her when you see signs of improvement.
  • Adjust your way of interaction with the person so that (s)he has more trust to discuss sensitive topics with you rather than hide them from you.

Complaining about something without new action hasn’t created any positive results yet. What you put out, you get in. So, ready to start complaining in a whole new way?

“I do not fix my problems. I fix my thinking. And then the problems fix themselves.”
Louise Hay