Earlier this week, I received a phone call that no parent ever wants to get.
“Your daughter had an accident.”
Luckily, it turned out to be a minor playground injury (dislocated elbow joint) that had her back at school the following day, but not before our 12 hour stint in the emergency room.
Our experience at the ER was what you’d expect. Communication was between staff and to us was poor. Everything took a long time. People made mistakes. My daughter was hungry, thirsty and in pain.
And I, at almost 39 weeks pregnant, had contractions and cramps throughout.
But I remained surprisingly calm. No angry internal dialogue, no pacing, no negative thoughts spiraling out of control. Sure, I made my concerns known, asked questions, and spoke up forcefully when necessary, but I was thoughtful about it.
“Complaining takes energy… it does nothing to advance the human intellect and spirit,” says writer Ben Hewitt, author of Home Grown, and I wholeheartedly agree.
After a month of being hyper conscious of my words and thoughts, I had found a way to preserve my energy, and as a result, maintain my sanity and composure during a stressful situation.
It’s an empowering feeling – to be in control of a situation and not let the situation control you.
So as my month of no complaining comes to a close, I can confidently say that this challenge was a success. I didn’t triumph over every frustration, temptation and inconvenience, but for every snipe and gripe that slipped out, there were five instances where I showed self control.
My fear now, as I move onto new challenges and projects, is the temptation to assume that I have acquired mastery over my mindset; that I no longer need to invest in the practice of awareness, acceptance, and conscious self talk. As Daniel Gilbert so wisely says in his book, Stumbling on Happiness:
Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’re ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.
It would be foolish to think that I’ve accumulated all of the tools I’ll ever need to tackle and respond to every negative situation that life will throw at me. With every day, week, month and year that passes, I’ll be a different person living with different tools and problems and circumstances.
And because of it, the quest to triumph over negativity will never end.