By Holly Small
Posted: Updated:

Well I am officially at the end of my ‘21 Day No Complaint Experiment’.  And how did I do?

Let’s just say, it put a whole lot into perspective.

Let’s look back at the video on the Truth Theory Facebook page that started that started this whole thing.

The concept that “complaining rewires your brain for negativity” makes perfect sense to me. If you are constantly reinforcing negative messages to yourself and others, which is what you do every time you complain, then it is setting you up to be in a permanent state of negativity and that sounds pretty toxic.

Surely that’s not me…is it?

I made an effort to be extremely mindful of what came out of my mouth each day throughout this experiment. I was also very honest with myself and although I tried to catch myself before a complaint passed my lips, I wasn’t always successful.

The number of times the man in my life stopped me and said “how’s the experiment going?” as a means of alerting me to the fact that I had slipped up is actually a little embarrassing. I would either respond with “that wasn’t a complaint, it was constructive criticism”- was it really? Or I would put my hands over my mouth and reflect upon what I said, why I said it and how I could have said it in a more positive way.

Now I am determined not to use this blog as a means to have a good old whinge about how hard it is not to whinge for a month. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that it was a whole lot harder than I expected it to be.

I refer back to author, entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed “human guinea pig Tim Ferriss, – his account of his experience with the 21 day experiment stayed with me throughout my experience.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Ferris said this thought control experiment changed his life – even though it took him 6 months to complete it. The way he completed the experiment required him to re-start each time he caught himself complaining.

I knew from the beginning that I was not at a point in my life where I felt that I had a dedication to be this committed, so I took a more relaxed approach, but had I followed Ferriss’ footsteps I may very well still be going in 2020 with no end in sight.

To be fair, I did a pretty good job and it was a very good lesson in mindful communication. That is what I am taking away from this experiment. Thinking before you open your mouth can help you to respond to situations rather than react to them. It can help you make your feedback to people constructive rather than potentially hurtful. It can turn potentially negative or volatile situations into productive and positive ones.

The Facebook video that I referred to explains that while it’s important to catch ourselves before we complain or say something negative, we should be careful we don’t berate ourselves. By condemning your actions or words you are just perpetuating the negative reinforcement that you started with the initial complaint. So acknowledge, accept and forgive – that’s my advice.

Now I don’t intend to just forget about this experiment and move on, I fully intend to continue working on this for the long term.

I left you with this little activity at the beginning of the month and I would be keen to hear if anyone actually implemented it – if so be sure to shoot me a message of Faceboook or Insta:

  • Keep track of how many people start conversations with you in the next 24 hours that centre on a complaint or criticism.

I did, and not only is it surprising, it’s pretty unsettling. So if we are going to follow the philosophy that change starts with us, then by managing our own approach to complaining and negative self-talk, we could have a profound domino effect as this shift starts to rub off onto others.

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