Episode 44: The Seemingly Harmless Confidence Killer

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Listen up, this subtle thing is hindering your confidence! Everyone does it. It’s not really THAT big of a deal. It’s not hurting anything. This is what most people would say to this daily habit but I assure you this seemingly harmless practice is indeed a huge CONFIDENCE KILLER! I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to The Confidence Catalyst Podcast Episode 44

Welcome back to another episode of The Confidence Catalyst Podcast. Thanks for being here with me today. Before we dive in I just want to talk for a moment about your word of the year. This is generally something we talk about in January but I wanted to check in with you all and see where you’re at with that. Did you pick one? Did you pick one and forget about it? For 2020 I choose the word intentional and it’s made a huge difference in my life. 

As a coach, I feel like I’m pretty good at being intentional and noticing when my auto-pilot likes to kick in and I go on default but this year with that word and being deliberate and intentional about being intentional it’s been incredible and really up-leveling. It’s a game-changer to decide how you want to live and then practice taking deliberate steps and actions to create what you want to create both in your emotional life, with your relationships, being able to feel and create confidence at all times and I just want to invite you to take part in this same thing. This month in the membership we’re learning how to let go of what other people think. It’s amazing because if you really think about we spend a lot of time thinking about what other people are thinking of us. And what would change for you if you could let go of all that and not be weighed down or allow yourself to be consumed by thinking and overthinking it? 

I want to invite you to live intentionally and to be able to create the life you really want to live. We can have a life that is like the dream we only think is a dream. So many of us just excuse it all as a lofty fairytale but with a managed mind you develop the capacity to create what you want to create and what you want to have. These are things we talk about and work on in the membership. I want you to experience this too. Come join me. Head over to members.theconfidencecatalyst.com and start your journey to a confident, intentional fairytale life.

Okay, let’s dive into today.

I’m bringing a topic to you today that I know you can relate to. It’ s something that everybody does and it’s 100% a confidence blocker. It’s a sneaky thing that slips into each conversation and comes so naturally and easily to each of us that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. This subtle thing is the habit of complaining.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I know some of you are thinking, “really? Come on!” And already complaining about the topic even. Complaining can even feel momentarily good and it’s an easy ice breaker when meeting new people. People bond and connect with others through complaining because it’s something we all have in common. 

We complain about the weather, the government, the long lines in the stores, the traffic, currently the Coronavirus and the Presidential election.

Research suggests that we complain on average once a minute during a conversation even. Whaaaaaat?! Really? Think back and see if you can take a quick tally of how much you complained today, in the last hour, or 5 minutes even. It’s so subtle and a part of our everyday vocabulary that it doesn’t feel like complaining. It just feels like talking and noticing. It feels like fact and that’s the problem.

When we complain we’re doing so much more than just stating what we’re thinking or what’s our perceived facts. We’re actually blocking, hindering, and limiting ourselves and our ability to feel confident. So today I want to offer some thoughts today to mull over in your mind about 5 reasons why this subtle daily practice is holding you back and some simple things you can implement to break this habit and free yourself.

1.) So first and foremost complaining is disempowering. It puts you in VICTIM MODE

Think about this. What are you doing when you complain? You’re giving power and authority over to something or someone else. You hand over your control to the situation and feel powerless to changing it. You’re stuck needing that person or that circumstance to change so you can feel better. It reaffirms in your brain that something isn’t right and needs to change so you can feel how you want to feel. And often we complain in ways that don’t sound like we’re complaining. I call these fragmented sentences because we only say a portion of what the full and complete thought is like this, “Ahg, the house!” When really we mean, “The house shouldn’t look like this”. Or “It’s so cold today” and it shouldn’t be. Yesterday I was at Costco and the woman in line ahead of me was complaining to her daughter that Costco was out of water. Then when it was her turn she complained to the cashier and said, “You guys don’t have any water” when was she really meant was, “You don’t have any water and you should.”

Think about your own fragmented sentences. This is such a sneaky thing because we’re not actually saying the entire thought. We’re just stating a partial thought but really it’s a complaint and unknowingly you’re giving away your power because you believe that something or someone needs to change so you can feel better. 

It’s disempowering because you’re handing over your power. You’re waiting for someone or something to be different so you can feel different and that waiting is limiting. You feel stuck and powerless. This is not a foundation for confidence. This is a breeding ground for feeling insecure, unsettled, and anxious.

Eckhart Tolle said, “When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness”.

2.) It solidifies your negative thoughts.

When we complain we think we’re just stating facts. Go back to my fragmented thoughts bit. We’re just stating that the line is long. Yesterday in Costco I found myself trying to weave through the traffic of carts and I chose this one aisle because it was wider than others and still there was a traffic jam so I apologetically looked at the man trying to get by me as I was trying to get by someone else and I said, “These aisles. I thought they were wide enough”. He smiled and chuckled and we maneuvered on through. But I stopped myself and noted the fragmented complaint. “These aisles – thought they were wide enough but clearly they’re not and they should be”.

We even complain with facial expressions and gestures. We complain without even having to utter a word. And when we do we’re just reaffirming these thoughts as facts in our minds. The thought that something or someone needs to be different than they currently are so I can feel better.

One of my amazing clients shared with me an experience she had in a crowded space when it’s usually peaceful and calm. She spoke up to the woman at the register and said, “It’s really packed today” – fragmented sentence – when what she meant was, “it’s packed today and it shouldn’t be.” But this sweet older lady replied, “Isn’t it wonderful?” Which was not the response she wanted because in her mind she was believing her story as fact. And we all do this. We think lots of thoughts and complain in our minds that things shouldn’t be this way. Things should be different and each time we do this we’re practicing what we believe. We’re solidifying our story and reaffirming this negativity in our minds.

Notice what happens then when we do this. This is number 3. When we’re reaffirming negatives we’re then blocking out any and all potential positives as well. I love that example of “Isn’t it wonderful” I’ve told her that I’ve adopted that phrase ever since because it helps me to widen my perspective and ask myself, how is this wonderful?

Can it be wonderful? 

We have to remember that we’re wired, our brains are wired to focus on the negativity. We’re biased to what’s negative or potentially negative 5 times more that we are able to naturally notice the positives. So we have to be extra vigilant and proactive to have our eyes opened to the abundance that’s around us. When we focus on the negatives we give our brain a directive to filter out anything else and just focus on the negatives and what’s wrong. 

Ever been in a conversation where you’re complaining or venting about one particular thing and then you start on a rampage about 50 more things that bother you too? You’re like, “Oh and another thing!” It’s because you’ve focused in on what’s not right, what’s going wrong and why things shouldn’t be this way and your brain being the diligent and ever efficient tool that it is says, “okay, this is what we’re doing – scan through files, here’s something else we don’t like, here’s another and another”.

It always makes us take a step back when someone else isn’t as bothered by something as we are. We’re confused because we’ve reaffirmed our negative story and believed it as fact so when they’re smiling or coming back with, ‘isn’t is wonderful” it makes us question our story and be open to potential positives.

4.) Complaining keeps you stuck in the past and blocks your ability to be present

Think about what you’re complaining about. Things that have happened, right? We love to complain about our childhood and parenting styles and past friendships or wrongs that have happened in the past. If only that hadn’t happened, if only we hadn’t moved, if only I had more loving, understanding parents. This person said this to me, etc.

When you’re thinking and complaining about these things you’re not in the present moment. You’re blaming your past for your current moment again putting you as a victim to circumstances. Remember what I teach about the past. It’s only two things, it’s either information or a story. Information is just that. It’s neutral and if it’s a story, it’s within your ability to rewrite it.

It doesn’t matter what happened then or what that person said in the past. What matters is what you’re thinking about it now. I’ve said this many times but it’s my go to thought, “Okay, THAT happened, now what?”

Thinking that way is present-focused. It’s thinking what do I want to think now? It’s moving forward and empowering. The ball is in your court. What do you want to think, feel, and do now? 

5. Negativity and complaining doesn’t fix the problem it just brings out more negativity.

This is such a fascinating one. We have this idea that complainers are “BAD” and we don’t want to be “bad” so we never put ourselves in the complainer category. We don’t label ourselves as complainers and I truly think we believe we aren’t. We’re just stating fact, right? But when we talk about that person who is always complaining – negative nancy, right? Or that family member, that co-worker, that friend, or the lady down the road notice what you’re doing. You’re complaining that they’re complaining.

We’re negative about their negativity. We’re judging them for judging us. We’re just adding more of what we say we don’t want into the world.

And it’s like worry. Eckhart Tolle tells us that Worrying pretends to be necessary. Complaining feels similar. It feels useful, helpful. It’s expending energy it feels productive but nothing is happening. Nothing is coming from it. The situation didn’t change. We didn’t change our thoughts so our model is still the same. It just pretended to be useful.

And please note, I’m not telling you NOT to complain. I just admitted I did it yesterday. I’m only offering to you awareness so that you can be intentional with what you want to do. Awareness of what’s happening, what complaining is creating, and why you’re experiencing things the way you currently are.

Notice what happens in your model when you complain. How do you feel when you complain. Think about your interactions with people, friends or family. I recently worked with a woman that was upset because her Mother wasn’t very involved in her life – this is what she was telling me. She came me lots of examples of her mom never calling her or asking to stop by. I asked her to think about that one sentence, How do you feel when you think and believe, “My Mom isn’t involved in my life?”

This even is a fragmented thought because what she’s really upset about is that she believes her mom isn’t involved and if she loved her she would be.

How do you think that thought makes you feel?

She was upset, frustrated, hurt, rejected

But mostly she felt rejected.

Our feelings will determine what you do next. When you’re feeling rejected the last thing you want to do is reach out, call, visit, invite, right? You don’t want to put yourself out there. So you don’t talk, reach out, you take the inaction action.

And this is important to realize because our actions create our results. 

Are these actions creating the results you’re wanting?

Think about what you want? Now remember, I’ve talked about this before. What you want is two layers deep. There’s what you think you want. Which in this case is to get On the surface she wanted her mom to reach out more. She wanted her to call, come over, mail a card, send a text, all that but what she really wanted was how she’d feel if her mom did those things. Because then she could feel loved, thought of, appreciated, noticed, accepted, and cared for.

These are the things she really wanted. This is also the road map to getting out of complaining mode which is disempowering. Notice when we complain things don’t change. It’s when we take action, when we think different thoughts we create a chain reaction that ends with different results.

When you know what you really want, to be cared for, loved, appreciated then you have a starting point. It’s not focused on the complaint but rather on the present and what you want to do now. How can I feel appreciated? How can I feel loved? 

This is a huge part of confidence. It’s knowing that you can create the results you want in your life. You don’t need them to show up differently. You just need to be aware of what your needs are so you can figure out how to give that to yourself.

This is the remedy to complaining. Taking action.

Maya Angelou once said, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” 

I read a news article talking about people feeling depressed after watching the morning or evening news. They said, watching the news isn’t bad. It doesn’t make you feel anything but rather your thoughts about the news. You complain and think the world shouldn’t be that way and you feel limited, stuck, disempowered. But they suggested taking one thing from that and asking yourself what you can do about it. 

Notice, that question, that thought just changed your model. It’s not limiting anymore but curious about what you can do. This is the foundation for confidence. Confidence is knowing and embracing all the parts of you and being able to trust in your abilities. Know why it bothers you. Embrace that it’s okay. In other words, get out of resistance. 

Byron Katie always says , “When you argue with reality you’ll lose, but only 100% of the time”.

That happened, now what? And then trust that you’re going to take care of you. If you don’t like something, change it. Write in to companies you feel aren’t acting in accordance to your values. You might think it won’t do anything, and it might not but you’re taking action and can feel hopeful that as Tolkien says, “little by little one travels far.”

When you’ve given yourself the directive to take action and ask yourself what you can do about this you’re no longer diving into the negative story either. You’ve stopped complaining. You’re moving forward and making changes.  This is the opposite of limited and stuck. This is empowering and where confidence thrives.

Think about what will happen then if you take this as a daily practice. Each time you complain, notice it and then ask yourself what you want to do about it. How can I  take action and change what I don’t like? Or even ask yourself, why don’t I like this? Does it need to be changed at all? Sometimes just that question gets you out of complaining and negativity mode too. It’s like, “Oh, maybe this doesn’t have to be a problem after all”

If you do this again and again and again your amazingly efficient brain will be quicker to jump to the present moment instead of dwelling in the past. It’ll go straight to, “Okay, that happened, now what?” It doesn’t have to be problem it’s just a circumstance and you get to decide what’s next. What do you want to think about it, feel about it, what do you want to do about it and ultimately what do you want to create?

It’s learning how to change your default or auto-pilot habits and into an intentional space. It’s so liberating and I invite you to try it out this week. Start today. Start with awareness and notice when you’re complaining and then ask yourself what now? That happened, now what? Take action even if that action is to question your original complaint and notice what a difference it makes in your life.

It’s a confident way of living. 

Complaining is disempowering and leaves you in victim mode. It surrounds you with negativity and asks your brain to keep bringing in more negativity.

Taking action is empowering. It invites you to join in innovation mode. It surrounds you with options, possibility, and hope. This is where confidence thrives.

Randy Pausch said, “If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.” 

Drop this sneaky, subtle habit and start seeing huge changes in your life. 

Thanks for listening you guys. Don’t forget to come by and join the membership. Fun things happening over there and more importantly, life changes happening in there so come join us I’d love to work with you!


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