Can a client complain mindfully? Well, kind of.
In our culture, Mindfulness is often synonymous with “Good Vibes Only”. As we know however the true definition of Mindfulness is really just about “paying attention, to the present moment, on purpose, and without judgement”. It is simply good fortune that an ongoing Mindfulness practice will eventually lead to “Good Vibes…Mostly”.
Here are my tips for using Mindfulness to help clients transform their moaning minds.
- Become aware of complaints.
Have your client start by tracking their negative thoughts, including the words they use and the situations they find themselves griping about the most. By tracking these criticisms they’ll begin to see a pattern of which negative thoughts continually resurface. Remind them that complaints are a way for the brain to express potential threats. By becoming aware of their common complaints your client will begin to take note of the areas in their life they want to improve.
- Tune into the feelings behind the complaints.
Instruct your client to also take note of the emotions behind their complaints. Are they hurt? Frustrated? Anxious? Sad? Also, instruct them to be mindful of where they feel the emotion in their body. You can use this information to help them recognize their triggers. Noting their current emotions will also help you guide clients toward defining their desired emotions in the areas of their life they want to improve.
- Resist the urge to complain about complaining.
Invite your client to speak to themselves with kindness rather than judging themselves for complaining. Remind them that complaining is a natural part of being human and instruct them to instead use neutral statements such as, “This is a moment of complaining” or simply using the labels “Complaint” or “Stop”. This way they are not judging or criticizing themselves but simply bringing mindful awareness to the fact that they are perceiving a potential threat that needs to be attended to.
- Shift your language.
Perhaps using the word “Stop” is enough for your client to break the cycle of complaining. However, you may also want to include this fourth step to help your client begin shifting their negative language. Invite your client to try seeing unpleasant situations in different ways using neutral statements. For example, instead of complaining, “I hate how cold the winter is” they may instead use the neutral statement, “Today it is -15 outside”.
The point is that once your client starts to become mindfully aware of their complaints they have the power to decide whether they want to give into the thought, leave it, attend to it, or shift it. Mindfulness offers the potential for your clients to take back control over their moaning minds.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA