By Billy Sadia
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on October 22, 2013
“Complaint” is a good word to describe those circumstances in our lives that we wish were different, whether our discontentment is of small stuff or more important stuff. There is need to become aware of our complaints to help us recognize how they add stress and dissatisfaction to our lives and to begin to see what it would feel like to let go of them. Yoga gives us the tools to discover how it would feel like to let go.
One of the major sources of stress and dissatisfaction in our lives has been our never ending desire to control what happens to us …. To get what we want and get rid of what we don't want. This is referred to as the state of “want/don’t-want.”
We may complain differently by sex, but we certainly do it a lot. The Bible even talks of the incessant grumbling by the Jews who were led out of Egypt. They complained about drinks, the leadership, and the desert. They complained that the miracle substance that sustained them, manna, didn’t taste like real meat. They’re taken out as slaves from Egypt and they’re making noise about everything.
During our 200 hour teacher training we were all told to write down a list of our complaints about anything and everything to do with or without the training and immediately after were advised to make a declaration to give up the complaints… Complaining without action makes us feel victimized, powerless and helpless…that was the key point of the facilitators in the training. When we get a complaint successfully resolved, we feel we have accomplished something, empowered and, hopefully, made a positive alteration.
Somebody once told me, “Don’t just sit there and admire the problem. Complain in a manner to move toward a solution.” To complain effectively, we need to override the initial negative attitude most of us have — that inner voice that says, “Why bother? There’s no point.” “I will never be able to reach that level of flexibility anyway,”…..It hurts too much to stay in this pose; I can’t do it….And so on and forth.
We need to be aware of what we want to achieve by complaining. Is it to resolve a problem? Is it to let someone know about the problem so it won’t happen again? Or is it to excuse one’s own failings?
Sometimes we use complaints to push others to carry some of our negative feelings. You bring up an argument that has no room for safe exit (solution) and so unload your frustrations onto others. Say you are practicing next to a guy who is always lamenting on how the teacher is making you hold poses longer. This negativity eventually rubs on to you or to someone else next to you if you are the complainant. Individuals who grumble about everything evade accountability for their lives, and tend to have many excuses why they are not yet at their pick point/objective. Unknowingly, they're channeling energy and concentration on unwanted things and almost certainly fail to become conscious of how much complaining they are doing. Paige the co- founder and director of AYP once told us “It’s a depressing sight to look on when a person releases their power and use complaining as a form of control at the exact same time.”
When you are complaining, mostly in your thoughts and therefore your vision are blurred and blocks you from seeing other windows, avenues, possibilities open to you. You cannot move beyond what you see. The brighter you see the faster you move, if that is your intention.
The complaining attitude could have started as a child and carried up into adulthood. Having come from an abused background, lack of attention at home or school, complainers haven’t learnt to love themselves. This makes it a job of everyone else to listen and to give the support the complainer never had. That won’t work. Friends will disappear one by one and complainers will lose their audiences. If you happen not to like something make a change of it. If you can’t change it, then change your attitude. Don’t complain too much.
There is still a chance for people who complain ceaselessly. All you need is some action, and proper attitude. A complainer’s collective outlook of themselves and the world around them can be shifted when they have willingness to view situations in a different angle. If they learnt not to fight when faced with troubling situations like difficulty in a pose; Instead of trying hard yoga teaches us to try easy. “You neither have to run nor stand to fight but you can simply stay and let it happen” as Baron Baptiste puts it. “There is a power in the universe bigger than all of us and all you need to access it is relax, breathe and surrender” which is likened to dropping your complaints. Dropping what you must and relaxing with what is. It is in reality a lot more beneficial to refrain from complaining both emotionally and physically. If you are willing to become instrumental in bringing positive difference for yourself and others then it can be okay. Otherwise you are in danger of remaining entangled in an unending cycle of complaining and are not able to live to your full potential.