Humans like to bitch. Actually, we love it. Our favorite pastime, I think, is complaining about all the things we don’t like. The politicians we don’t like get way more airtime than the ones we do like. And then they get elected. Because that’s the way the Universe works. What you focus on grows.
Attention is Miracle Grow
It doesn’t matter if it’s positive attention or negative, attention is fertilizer. Things we pay attention to are things that thrive and grow and cling to us. And it doesn’t matter if the attention we pay is “STAY WITH ME!” or “GO AWAY!” The result is always the same. More of what we’re paying attention to.
There’s a second, equally true universal law. Every subject has things about it that are wonderful to our judging minds, as well as things that are horrible. It’s just like the tiny photon that can exist everywhere and nowhere until an observer observes it, at which time it exist in one and only one place. Our judging minds make the call. What we choose to observe is what becomes our reality. Not the other way around.
What bitching does
Take a subject, any subject–I’ll pick one that gets griped about most in my circles. The thing I hear authors bitching about most of all is Amazon. They complain about how its ranking system works, something no one actually knows. They complain about reviews, which they shouldn’t be reading anyway. They complain about customer support, which is the best in existence.They complain about sales, which are higher than any other online bookstore. They complain about everything and anything related to Amazon.
And so the things about the company that irritate them multiply. Their experience with Amazon gets worse and worse, and they say, “See? I knew I was right! This company sucks.”
When in fact, all that has happened is that they have focused on things they don’t like and created more of them. All by themselves. I’m over here having a phenomenally fun and profitable time at Amazon myself. So what’s the variable? The difference is in the attitude.
A different approach
Amazon is my top source of income. And since I know this business inside and out, I know it’s also the top source of income for most of the authors out there bitching about it.
Just scrolling through one of my online indie author groups, I saw people griping about Amazon, about blogging, about reviews, about marketing, all of those gripes including the words, “I just hate….”
But could these authors be hurting their own bottom line? There’s no question that they are. Because every time we complain about anything, we create more of it, we attract more of it, and it brings friends. Other things that will inspire identical feelings in us will always show up.
So I'm not allowed to gripe?
We’re allowed to do whatever we want. We can bite the hand that feeds us, and eventually stop getting fed. Or… we can work on changing the complaining habit.
How to shift
Complaining is just a habit, and habits can be overwritten with better habits. So when I catch myself bitching about a subject, any subject, I identify it as an opportunity to increase my success rate.
The first and most effective step to take if we really hate doing something, is, of course, to stop doing it. It’s not going to be effective for us if we hate it, so why bother?
So that’s first. If I hate it, I eliminate it. But if it’s something I really want to continue participating in it (like selling my books at the biggest bookstore in the universe, for example) then I need to change my attitude.
So when I catch myself griping about something that should be working for me:
- That very moment, I think of the best thing I can about that same subject. I might say, “Amazon sells more than twice as many of my titles as the next highest-selling retailer.”If it’s advertising, it might be, “I love how easy it is to tell if an ad is working or not, and also how easy it is to stop running an ad that’s not doing well.”If it’s social media, I might say, “I love being able to connect one-on-one with my readers, and that was not possible until social media came along.”
- That night, and every night for the next two weeks, I journal 5 positive aspects about the thing I’ve been complaining about.
- I ban myself from complaining online, on the phone, to my spouse, to my friends or to anyone in any way, about this topic. Any time I catch myself starting to, I have to say something good about it instead.
Here’s what will happen: Because I’m looking for positives to put into my journal each night, and because the act of looking for something creates it, I’ll begin to experience more positive things pertaining to this subject and fewer negative ones, because they die from lack of attention. Like plants I haven’t watered, they wither.
Before the end of the 2 week period, I will not be forcing this exercise anymore. Something will have shifted inside my brain, and I will actually be sincere in the positive statements I come up with on the topic. As sincere as I used to be about the negative ones. And when that happens, a veritable avalanche of good stuff follows. Because other things that match my good feelings will also be drawn into my experience.
Or, the flip side
Or, I can keep using things I hate. I can keep running cost per click type ads, even though I’d rather be shot. Others can keep hating social media while trying to use it for marketing. But those efforts are wasted energy. We cannot have a good result from something we’ve decided to hate. We’ve chosen the location of the photon. It can’t be anywhere else other than where we’ve decided to place it. We have to remove our attention from that spot and start looking for it elsewhere.
Lather, rinse, repeat
Try this with everything you catch yourself complaining about and see if you can break the complaining habit all together. Our topics of conversation will shift from us bitching about everything we hate, to us singing the praises of everything we love, and causing more lovable things to rain down into our lives.
We’ll feel better right from the get go. And that good feeling will snowball with momentum.