Is Your Complaint Really Just An Unspoken Request?

Do you sometimes not ask for something because you don’t believe you deserve it? Do you have a limiting belief, sometimes unconscious, that takes control of you and says you are not worthy of some act or thing another person has the power to give?

Maybe you complain that a friend or family member doesn’t call you enough. However, have you ever expressed to him or her how important those calls are for you and your relationship and asked that he or she call you more? Or do you suffer in silence, sometimes becoming resentful and hurt?

This isn’t all that uncommon. This “undeserving” belief usually comes from your childhood when your parents and other adults told you to stop doing something or when they showed by word or deed that your voice didn’t matter. Adults knew what was best, not us. As a result, many of us just quit asking.

That’s fine, so long as your life satisfaction hasn’t been diminished because of it. But, unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. More than likely, your silence causes you to miss out on things that could have at least made your life more pleasant or perhaps improved it significantly.

So, how do you learn to start asking? It all comes down to using your thoughts and feelings to replace your old complaints with new requests that better serve you.

Replacing Your Complaints With Requests 

First of all, it is crucial to make a distinction between the self and your thoughts and feelings. You are not your thoughts and feelings. You are an observer of your thoughts and feelings and are able to direct them and redirect them accordingly. A difficult concept to get your arms around, I know.

Think of the self as a composer/conductor of music. The self is not the musician playing the music. Your musicians are your thoughts and feelings, which bring to life the music you have written as the self. In other words, the self creates using continuous feedback from your thoughts and feelings.

Now that we understand the difference, the next step is to use it to your advantage. How do you direct your thoughts and feelings in a way that’s most beneficial to the whole you?

The composer/conductor must be conscious of the values, beliefs, self-talk, attitudes, behavioral patterns, etc. that make up the total you. When a real composer/conductor notices that one of their musicians is playing a wrong note, they take charge to remedy the situation. So, too, must the self utilize continuous inputs from thoughts and feelings in order to direct a plan of action.

The Impact Of Your New, Enabling Beliefs

The composer/conductor must also think about how all this music is going to affect current relationships. If you have changed the “rules of the game” by replacing your old, limiting beliefs with new, enabling beliefs, those with whom you relate certainly will notice and will have to decide how to respond to what was formerly a complaint and is now a request.

In implementing your new, enabling beliefs, it is crucial to pay attention to your impact. How are your new “rules of the game” landing? How are others reacting to the new you? The foremost factor in how you are going to be perceived is, of course, your words and what you say. However, your tone of voice and your body language can also have a major impact. Be aware of this, and act accordingly.

At all costs, you must avoid sounding unfeelingly dictatorial, insensitive or judgmental. The best managers often avoid this by starting their sentences with “we,” instead of “I.” The content of the sentence can be exactly the same, but by beginning it with something other than “I,” you take the focus away from yourself personally and to the company’s mission or the other person.

Here’s an example:

Bad: “I want you to…”

Better: “Why don’t we see if you can…”

The more you practice being conscious of the role of the self as an observer, the better you will be in your decision-making, improving your daily habits and relationships, and in aligning your personal values and empowering beliefs.

So, it’s up to you. Keep complaining to yourself and others if you want. But in order to become the best version of yourself, what you really need is to change your behavioral pattern and start making requests and voicing your needs based on what your self, in its role as an observer, has witnessed. You will allow yourself to take control of your current actions in a more reasoned, beneficial way that will greatly impact your communication and deepen your relationships with others.

This article was originally published in Forbes.

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