Friday, November 2, 2007

Who is hardest on you?

A few days ago, I agreed to take up a challenge Patti Digh posted on her delightful, challenging, and thoughtfully written blog: no complaining, whining, criticizing, or gossiping for 37 days (it's a significant number--you can visit and learn all about it). Patti picked up on the idea from Christine Kane.

Like many who have commented on her blog since, I am now on Day Five of Day One--in other words, I have started over every day, having failed the challenge at some point, busting out in a criticism usually. One person said that, once she had crossed the line one day, she felt herself turning her day into a nonstop, criticize-all session. I guess she fell off the wagon and then was run over by all the wheels.

Depending upon how tightly one chooses to judge oneself, I have begun to wonder if it is even possible to pass this challenge. I've also realized that the lessons to be learned are far more important than success in this challenge.

I have already learned that I am more critical than I would have guessed, and I tend to gossip more, too. Being sensitive to it is a really good idea: it's hard to change behaviors you don't want to use anymore unless you are aware of them when they are happening!

A side benefit is that I am learning, the hard way, that gentleness is the path. I don't mean just toward others, but gentleness with myself. Treating this challenge as a win-or-lose thing would be typical, but I'm consciously choosing not to go that route.

Instead, I'm offering myself all the chances I need, seeking to grow with each day and learn a little from each mistake. I don't know about you, but I know who is hardest on me: me. Why would the rest of humanity treat me nicely when I model a lack of respect for myself too often?

So, that's my take-away for today on the challenge to lead a whine-free, gossip-free, criticism-free, complaint-free 5 weeks plus: I will honor my efforts and respect the willingness to change. And, I may well be on Day One again tomorrow. If so, I'll do my best to get past that first hump, one more time.


Kikipotamus said...

Right on, Rick! How can we expect the world to be compassionate with us until we learn to be oh so very gentle with ourselves?

I think even accepting this challenge is a HUGE step, even if we are still on day one a month from now. The benefits cannot but be great.

Jane said...

I applaud your effort here. I know how incredibly important it is to change those patterns of negative talk and thinking. I know it can be done too. Be patient with the process; it will pay off in the end!

Julie said...

I'm a little afraid to try this experiment myself, as I am pretty sure I'd be rushed to the hospital by my coworkers for an exploded head. (Complaining about clients is what we do.)
Still, I think I'll give it a try for the reasons you mentioned - just noticing a pattern.

Kate I said...

How true! I'm finding this such an enlightening experience with the realization of how much negativity flits through my mind each day! Much more than I ever realized and I'm finding that awareness to be such a positive step for me.

Sylvain said...

I could never succeed at this challenge. At work especially, like Julie, we complain about the clients non-stop. I would be at day one forever. But with Kelly having taken on this challenge, it's made me more aware of what I am saying and that alone is a step in the right direction. I've chosen to bite off a smaller peice of this task. And it's already having very positive spin-offs.

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks for all the support, folks!

Julie, you and Sylvain and I all have the "what about at work??" problem.

Tomorrow is Day One for me because, a few minutes ago, one of my cohorts told me that he had resolved the computer problem of one of our less-favorite folks we support, and I spoke before thinking, "But he is still an idiot."

While I could argue the technicality that I was merely stating a fact, it was an unnecessarily blunt statement of the obvious, so I'm heading back to the starting line.

He is an idiot, though...

Olivia said...

Yay, Rick! I'm reading the book now, and it says that the average person takes 4-8 months to make it 21 days---WOW! And it doesn't matter how long you take as long as you don't give up. You'll keep becoming more and more aware, and more and more positive!! Love and Peace, O

cadiz12 said...

all the very best, rick. i tried only the no-complaining part last august, but then after several really bad things happened to me in a row, i only lasted a few days. i hope you can inspire me to try again sometime.

Julie said...

See? You got me thinking about this damned thing and now I have to play along. I'll start my day one of probably a year or two of day ones right now. Did you get the bracelet?

Rick Hamrick said...

Julie--I did not get the bracelet, but I did get the t-shirt, coffee mug, jammies with happy faces all over them, and the daily reminder emails.


What bracelet, pray tell?

Rick Hamrick said...

Okay...I take back my wiseguy answer, Julie! A little research turned up Will Bowen, the minister who started this whole crazy, "we can stop complaining. No! Really!!" thing.

If anyone wants a free "complaint-free world" bracelet, you can ask for one here:

Seriously, it is an idea which can benefit every single person who agrees to the challenge, every person they come into contact with, and on and on.

This is the kind of virus I can get behind spreading!

Rick Hamrick said...


Today's a good day. Give it another shot.

Lynn said...

So the deal is to get through at day with out complaining or saying anything bad about anyone?
(In the Jewish community we call this LaShon Harah: Evil's a no-no). So I do my best...but am human just like the rest of YOU.
If you mess up, blow it, you go back to step one? What is step two?
I was going to say you are all nuts, but that would be Lashon Harah so did not! ;-)

Rick Hamrick said...

Lynn--the deal, in this case, is to get through 37 days in a row without complaining (there are other verbs included, but getting rid of complaining/criticizing is a great start).

It is true that I am nuts, but that was the case before taking up this challenge! (grin)

Click the links in this post for lots more info.