“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness” —Jean de La Bruysre

Do ever find yourself complaining about the situation you’re in, as if there’s nothing you can do to change it?

While it’s true there are many things we cannot control, it’s also possible for us to turn a blind eye to all the ways we may have contributed to what we’re complaining about. And in some cases, our complaints can end up being more an indictment of our own actions than anything.

For instance:

Our Clients: We’re tempted to complain about having to deal with terrible clients, but fail to realize we’re only getting what we’ve allowed. We haven’t set proper expectations or boundaries with them, and then wonder why they don’t live up to what we expect.

Our Physical Condition: We’re tempted to complain about our health, the way we feel, or how tired we are, but fail to look at the impact our own decisions about diet, physical inactivity, and lifestyle choices have played.

Our Time: We’re tempted to complain about our lack of time, overlooking the fact that we’re the ones who said ‘yes’ to all the commitments that take up the hours of each day.

This isn’t the case all the time; there will be circumstances beyond our control, which have nothing to do with what we did or didn’t do. But there will also be times when what we experience is the direct result of our actions (or lack thereof).

Taking Responsibility

Simply complaining only serves to shift the blame, but doesn’t actually fix anything. However, as soon as we realize we’ve played a part in what we’re complaining about, we’ll also see how we can have a part in changing it.

If we want better health, we can adjust our eating and activity levels. If we want better relationships with clients, we can adjust our process and communication and expectations. If we want a less stressful schedule, we can choose to be more diligent about what we commit to, even if that entails cutting out things that we think we’d like to do.

So, before complaining, first stop and see whether you may have contributed to what you want to complain about. Because while complaining may feel good, it won’t change anything.

But if we start to see how our own actions have played a part in getting us to where we are, we can start focusing our attention on the one thing that can lead to change, and which is totally under our control: the actions we choose to take now.