6 Solutions for the Complaint-Free Challenged - Christine Kane

Being complaint-free is not easy, as many of us are learning.

(And I’m not complaining here.)

Here are some tips you might find useful as you move through the coming weeks of complaint-freedom…

1 – It’s not about perfection

If it were about doing it perfectly, you could just stay at home, make your partner move out, and not talk to anyone. Then you could say “Hey, I went complaint-free for 35 days.”

But that’s not the point. The point is to notice the ease with which we slide right into negativity, and to shift that pattern. From all accounts I’ve read, it gets easier after the first week.

The best thing to do when you catch yourself is to just laugh, and then start over from day one. The bracelet idea really does help. You can do it with a rubber-band too. You move the band over to the other wrist every time you catch yourself complaining.

(I’ve mailed “Complaint-Free World” bracelets to all the participants in my e-Seminar. So you should be getting them this week – unless you’re overseas!)

2 – Remind yourself each morning.

I sent a Complaint-Free contract to each of the e-Seminar participants because it’s a reminder. When I walk by my contract in the morning, a little light bulb goes on in my head. “Oh yea! I almost forgot!” It’s like remembering that you’re starting a new job today – so don’t go driving on the same streets you normally would! Create some reminder that you’re consciously changing this old pattern of yours. Put it somewhere so you can see it in the morning.

3 – Remember this mantra: “I make requests rather than complain.”

This is from the world of coaching, and it has vastly improved my interpersonal relationships. Complaining is so dysfunctional because it keeps us stuck. If we complain, we don’t have to be an adult and ask for what we need or want. Making requests requires that we get clear and take responsibility for our own experiences.


Complaint: “Look at these idiots! They left this entire section out of our contract!”
Request: (Notice the contract. Make a phone call.) “Hey, I want to let you know that a section was not in the contract. Can you add it in and resend it please?” (Move on to the next thing and notice that your productivity increases when you don’t fill your time with complaining.)
Complaint: “You always leave the kitchen such a mess!”
Request: (Discussed at a peaceful time. NOT in a highly charged moment.) “I’d like to make a request. Can you hear this out? (pause) Could you put things back in the cabinets after you use them in the kitchen? I’m often tired when I come home from work, and this would help me because I wouldn’t have to clean up before I make my dinner.”

Making requests requires uncharged language. In other words, it doesn’t help to make a request by starting off with, “Since you obviously refuse to clean up after yourself in the kitchen, I need you to listen to me while I make this request…” It’s very easy to let a complaint slip in the back door.

4 – Be not somebody.

I heard a spiritual master talk about how the only difference between him and other people is that he experiences life as pure experience. In other words, he said, I don’t have a “somebody” in here making judgments on what I’m experiencing. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Our egos are the source of all our complaints, judgments, criticisms, etc. Ever since I heard this man talk about his “not being somebody,” I make this a practice. Ideally, we wouldn’t have to practice it. We’d just slip effortlessly into our enlightenment.

You can, however, experience what he’s talking about, and feel the freedom of it.

Here’s one example: My street runs by a river. It’s a gorgeous place, and it feels like a Hobbit village. Recently, some of the homeowners have left to buy bigger houses and they’ve rented their houses to large groups of college students. This is challenging to those of us who loved the peace. (Much complaining and judging.)

One night, as I walked down the street with my dog, I remembered the words of the spiritual master. I asked myself what it would feel like to experience the street as “not Christine.” (Pure experience. Not my experience.) It was unbelievable. It felt like a whole new place. For a long moment, I saw the college students cars parked all around as simply “cars parked all around.” (Letting go of judgment.) I took in the trees and the beauty without requiring any more from the situation. I try to practice this often throughout the day. Just experience life without “being somebody.”

Try it. It’s good practice for the real truth behind not complaining in the first place!

(Read this post for a similar practice.)

5 – Add on a solution.

I offered this as a “save” to my e-Seminar participants. If you catch yourself mid-complaint – you can call it not a complaint if you add the word “AND” to the sentence and offer a solution to the scenario. (Then carry out the solution!)

In the comments on the last post, David responded to something I said about a wobbly table at a restaurant by saying, “This table’s wobbly, can we move?” This is exactly the direction to go. (I, of course, blew it from the start by pronouncing, “This table sucks!”)

6 – Stay at home, make your partner move out, and don’t talk to anyone.

For some of us, this might be the only option! πŸ™‚

  • Lidiana Burca

    My daughter and I were listening to Holly Furtick’s sermon on line today and my 8 yrs old daughter asked me to buy her one of your bracelets. After much researching on line, I am still not able to find it where I can purchase it. Please help! My daughter is a complainer and for her to ask me to get this bracelet, I feel that she is on the right path πŸ™‚


    • Christine Kane

      Liidana – i think they’re at complaintfreeworld.com. If you google complaint free world bracelet, you’ll be able to find it.

  • Vince

    I’ve been out of town on business & I found myself complaining only once (about current affairs in the Garden State) to a friend of mine from WV. So, I started over on Thursday, Day 1! I also found a new mantra to use when dealing with everyone’s whining & complaining. Now, instead of adding my own whining, I simply smile & say, “When I’m Emperor, things will be different!”

    Everybody smiles!

  • Linda

    Gee, you know, I don’t know if I can do this and be married. Never has my husband irritated me so plus all sorts of bad things seem to be starting, including unexpected bills that makes both of us cranky. This is harder than I thought it would be. Day one wasn’t even easy.

  • ChickiePam

    I’m still on day one. My mouse is wonky. I have done virus scans, spy ware scans, ad aware scans and my mouse is still wonky. I can’t click and make the cursor go someplace else. I have to backspace in order to fix a typo and not just click on it to fix it. So I’m still on day one. Perhaps it’s still hour one! So my current challenge is to see if I really can make it an entire hour without complaining! Baby steps for me. I need to create some success. I share my home with 2 teenagers, a dog, 2 cats, and a hamster. I really can’t throw them out…it would be easier to go to a hotel for 35 days! So for me, it’s a one hour challenge now!
    Thanks for challenging me.

  • Katherine/ME

    when telling my 17 year old son about the challenge, he said “don’t you just end up bottling up all that negativity if you don’t let it out? He had me speechless for a bit because what one does with the internal neg. stuff is worth examining. that was an earlier thought i expressed here at this blog as i know i can get pretty far into a neg. self dialogue that no one ever knows about! re-focusing my neg thoughts to the challenge, i have then thought to myself, “how can i change or expand this thought so that it is more productive than just keeping it at a whine/complaint.”and when i have done that, i’ve felt pleased for finding a positive way to think AND because i did not voice my negitivity, i didn’t have to start day one all over!
    –my little lessons learned for the week that i wanted to share. if i knew how to insert a cute smiley face, i would right here!

  • Elaine

    Bracelet received this morning…thanks so much! I just know that todays gonna be a good one! πŸ™‚

  • Vince

    Thanks for the encouragement. I like the idea of making requests instead of whining & complaining. I am working on that.

    Also, I am going to ask my co-workers to take this challenge with me.

  • Christine Kane

    7th sister (&pippa) – a kayak and euphoria – pretty cool. sometimes i think when we even enter into the intent of something different and more positive, the flood gates of goodness can open. you go!

    christi & mags & elaine – the internal stuff is just to be noticed. for right now – don’t worry about those. the idea is not to just voice your opinions and complaints aloud. mags – great story about celebrity gossip!

    liz – yep, it’s really about being present. that’s when it works for me, too!

    vince – the whole idea is to finally get how much we rely on our complaints as conversation tools! so you’re doing great!

  • Elaine

    duh! still on day 1!! I was doing ok until I came back to work!!

    Does complaining to yourself count?

    At least I’m catching myself doing it now! I have just written ‘make a request’ in very big letters by my phone πŸ™‚

  • Mags

    “6 – Stay at home, make your partner move out, and don’t talk to anyone.”

    Does talking to myself count? How about the cat? Not to mention the committee that holds meetings in my head…?! πŸ˜‰

    I stopped looking at celebrity-type gossip sites after one of your earlier posts about colluding – it made such a huge difference. Out of interest, a little while ago I went back to one of the sites to see if it could still hook me, and it was actually a weird experience… it was so unfulfilling (dare I say boring?!) that I closed it and went back to doing something more meaningful! Yay me! And yay you too!!

    I love the idea of having a contract – it really keeps one living in conscious awareness. Thanks again Christine!

  • Vince

    I’m back to day one. Today, I complained about three things at work. I am amazed at how much whining & complaining I do.

    One instance occurred when I went to Mass today to celebrate All Saints Day.

    The good news is that now I catch myself going into complaint mode & when I whine.

    I intend to turn this around.

  • Pippa

    So far it has been going well with not-complaining. When I do slip, I laugh and say, “Oops, I just complained!” What really helps for me is to approach it from the perspective of being extra nice to people.

    It takes a little more energy than simply going my way, but the rewards are immense. Not only do I in return experience other people as a whole lot sweeter (isn’t that great!?) but being nice gives me something positive to focus on as a replacement for the tendency to complain. And this counts for inner complaints as well ~ it helps to pray for a blessing for the irritating person rather than criticize them in my mind.

    This is making me feel really, really happy. I ended yesterday in euphoric bliss. Wow!

  • Liz Williams

    No bracelet, no rubber band, no ring=no repetitive stress injury for moi. πŸ˜‰ Am enjoying the conversation about humor and ranting. I so often go for the funny line in a conversation, just because it cracks *me* up. Since taking the pledge, I’m begining to see that I’m not especially present when I do that. In fact, I begin to sound like the old vaudeville comedian who’s entire conversational style is one-liners that don’t…quite…fit. I’d started to think how brilliant the comedians are who don’t just rant. I remember listening to a storyteller years ago who said he didn’t tell a personal story until he’d “gotten the heat out and the wisdom in – and that takes time.” Meanwhile, it’s day one, all over again. Ground Hog Day (One).

  • Christi

    I’m curious about if the internal, unvoiced out loud complaints ‘count,’ or what ideally we do whenever those come up. Thanks so much for the hints. Starting again… πŸ™‚

  • seventh sister

    This is great stuff. I think that some of my blog readers think I am a little crazy for trying this but I am enjoying it a lot. I think it will speed up the manifestaion of several things I want to happen/have because it does so much to take negativity out of the picture. I just today manifested a kayak, something that I have been wanting for a long time.

  • Clark Kent

    How true!
    As somebody else who grew up in Fairfax County, (Vienna!) where ranting was the default form of conversation, I’m just resigned to be the strong, silent type from now on.

  • Christine Kane

    clark – well, just think – george carlin and many other comedians would have no career if they were taking this challenge! humor and complaining go hand in hand. (this is what’s hard for me – it’s often funny to have a rant.) but maybe we’ll find a different talent!

    katherine – did you ever see the Friends episode when chandler gives up criticism – and then he finally lets it all out at the end – and groans because it feels so great? that’s what you just reminded me of!

  • Katherine/ME

    told my fourteen year old daughter that I am doing this complain-free challenge and she inguired for details. “No complaining, whining or gossiping.” “Oh no way” she said upon hearing me say “gossiping”. I had to laugh. so for the record, my daughter is NOT in and more than one conversation with her has led to me moving my bracelet (actually, I am using my ring and I am also still at day one) yeah, that one counts as a complaint…just couldn’t help myself! ring now back on the left…
    i have found that complaining, when you KNOW it’s coming out of your mouth and you won’t stop it, is very similiar to scratching poison ivy. you know it’s very bad to do but ooohhhh doesn’t it feel so good.

  • Clark Kent

    Oh…of course! One does feel jealousy. But not complaining. (Wish I’D been the one who thought of that…!)
    And I guess take your humor for granted, because I didn’t factor in how much of it you do treat complaints with.
    I’m defensive about complaining because I’m really good at it. Like Volvo is for Sweden, complaints have been my gross national product most of my life. It’s my family’s only tradition!
    The world will be experiencing a terrible loss, as the Mozart of Bellyaching goes silent at last.

  • Christine Kane

    clark – hmmm. i think i approach complaining with more humor. and i actually do have lots of compassion for the motivation and the fear that lies at the root. but mostly it seems to be a more surface-y ego-builder than jealousy. at the basis of jealousy is usually a belief in scarcity, not enough. and then, yes, there’s lots of shame in there too. it seems like a deeper rooted, harder to alter habit. and any artist who’s ever experienced it knows that it eats away at you – even though you don’t want it to. complaining is a behavior. jealousy is an emotion.

  • Clark Kent

    It’s interesting that you may view jealousy/jealous expressions with more compassion than complaining. Are they actually different? (Of course it may be that since jealousy is laquered with shame, and complaining isn’t anymore, that jealousy needs a little more understanding than complaining does as we evict it?)

  • Christine Kane

    clark – it was sri bhagavan – founder of the oneness university.

    rs – join in whenever you want! (most of us are still on day one anyway! πŸ™‚ ) I’ll send you the contract.

    megan – try the “be not somebody” approach when people complain. just notice it. experience it. have you ever heard the expression “love brings up anything unlike itself” ?? it means that when you first intend something new (i.e. love) then all the crap that has to be released will often come up first. so stick it out – eventually they’ll be gone.

  • Megan

    I am trying to do this. I got wind of the complaint free world and thought I’d give it a go. Here is the challenge I am facing. When I am not complaining I seem to hear others complain more. Complaints seem to be following me around now. Although it still feels good to ask for results rather than complain, it is hard to “block” out others.

  • RS

    Christine, is it too late to join in? I already have a bracelet, but want to sign the contract and participate with your site…


  • Clark Kent

    I’m betting the spiritual master in question was Vernon Howard.
    He used to recommend becoming a “Psychological Nobody.” But I like your “somebody” term, which sounds less 1960.

  • Christine Kane

    me too marilyn!

    elaine – the bracelet is on its way!

    thanks ria and nancy. and nancy, you’re very right. i remember hearing marianne williamson speak about how every time we go to a movie we feel compelled to give our opinion afterwards – to which she added, “who cares?” it was funny.

  • NancyCz

    I’m really enjoying this complaint-free idea. I’m actually going to direct some people to your blog to read it. Wouldn’t the world be a more friendly place with all of those attached judgements? And all that digging in we do because we simply don’t LIKE something?

  • Ria

    Thanks so much for these ! It has given me a fighting chance of not having to go STRAIGHT to number 6 !

  • Elaine

    Thanks for these… they’re really helpful :-)…off to make some requests!!

  • Marilyn

    Thank you for these. I’m on day 3…of day 1. πŸ˜‰ I’m honestly enjoying the experience, even the backsliding…because all of it is deepening my awareness.