Complaining Versus Feeling

photo by J. Gaddis

Let’s say that I was somehow hurt by you.

My default setting used to be to complain about you and set up a “you” versus “me” dynamic. My old way kept the karmic loop going and created new unhelpful karma. Despite my best intentions, the more I tried to make my shit pile smaller, the bigger it got.  Why? Because I was complaining instead of feeling. I was avoiding instead of dealing.

Feeling is the way through. It’s the way of the body.

Complaining keeps me out of my feelings. It sets me up as a victim and then I enroll others into that view. If they agree, I won’t be able to move through whatever needs to be moved through. By rallying a team to support me in my victim stance I cut the legs out from under myself.  Complaining can give me the illusion that I am feeling something, when in fact I’m thinking about it, even obsessing about it. Complaining is the way of ego.

Feeling my experience fully on the other hand, is the potent path through—always. Feeling my feelings allows the soul and my body to commune.

In the very moment of hurt, my job is to feel the hurt, not the story about it. If I feel angry and want to attack or weave a tale about how wrong “other” is, I know that my anger serves to protect my hurt which, might be necessary for a while. So, I “allow” myself to react for a period of time; minutes, hours, or even days. However, at a certain point, I choose to come back to my devotion of trusting what’s happening. My allegiance is not with what happened “to (poor) me” but instead, my allegiance is with trust.  I trust what happened because it did happen. I cannot argue with what has been done or the consequences of that action. I now get to choose “how” to be with the situation and what’s arising in my experience. Create more stories, or completely feel the impact of what occurred.

After being hurt by you or by Life, there are two main steps for me in this order:

1)   A boundary might be required if I still feel unsafe, or need to take “reasonable” space. This will help me get to step two. By “reasonable” space I mean a day or two, a week at the most. If I take more than a week, I’m typically avoiding and underneath that I’m scared to deal with the situation. And, if while taking space, I haven’t moved on to step two, I call myself out on how scared I am.

2)   Feel everything completely. Open and say yes to what’s arising in my experience below the story about it. Feeling my experience is the way through and beyond. As I do this, other “old stuff” might come up that clouds the experience. No problem. The practice here is to open to them as well. The old memories/pain are asking for healing by rising up to the surface. Feel all of it.

After having done steps one and two, I wipe my tears and take and breath. Whew. I’m now available for relationship again. I might need to share some truth with you, or clean up whatever mess I created. Either way, I’m now more resourced, ready, and willing.



  • Shawn

    Reply Reply July 5, 2012

    This is interesting, Jayson: I hadn’t thought about complaining as a defense mechanism against painful feelings, before.

  • James Nakamura

    Reply Reply July 11, 2012

    Awesome post! One thing that we need to do is feel the feelings. Sadly, we default into a certain secondary mode (complaining, anger, aggression) when conflict arises and fail to address the primary reason.
    Integrating our emotions is such a long process, but you have described the process quite well. The one thing we need is to have permission to feel the feelings whether they make sense or not. It also is good to determine the source of why we’re feeling what we’re feeling. That can get us to resolution much faster.
    I believe what you describe in the last paragraph is step three: address this issue in the rational mind. Sadly, we rarely get past step one or two so we end up making a bigger mess!
    Love the blog!

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