The Grievance Loop

At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I graduated just last week (!), we are taught as Holistic Health Counselors to begin all of our sessions with clients asking simply “what is new and good?”  We do this very intentionally – to prompt clients to step back and think about what is going well in their lives.  People have a tendency to walk around with a script in their heads of everything that is going wrong.  And sure enough, I have observed that when I start a conversation with a simple, “what’s new?” or “how’s the living,” oh boy do people recall that script, and vent about their frustrations at work, or difficulties adjusting to the change in season, or what have you.
This past month, I have certainly been no exception.  When friends asked me how the move into the new house was going, I’d end up venting about my dog’s moving anxiety and his 36-hour poopcapade that left no corner in the house uncovered.  And why did I have to verbally throw up all over them like that? what gives?
Perhaps its my need to inject some snarky wit in small talk and keep it engaging.  Or maybe that default complaining is a way to address these frustrations and have the opportunity to laugh at them in the company of others.  After all, where does most comedy begin if not with the need to bring levity to our grievances?
Whatever it is, I have found that by giving into this loop of complaining, these frustrations tend to take on a life of their own and consume my thoughts and conversations with others.  And sometimes that forum for venting is appropriate.  But at what point can I allow that script of all that is going well to take the forefront of my interaction with others? So, with that, I am actively reminding myself to honor those around me and to keep the space open for the positive developments to take on the life of their own.  Perhaps I could create the space for my friends to focus on all that is new and good in their world too.  This will continue to be my practice.
Please enjoy the contents of this month’s newsletter. As always I would love to hear from you.  Be well and much love.
-dahlia

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