tbt: what is really going on when I complain?

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I am bringing the photo trend to the blog!

This post first appeared on July 29, 2013.


Most of the time when we complain a lot, we’re avoiding what we really need to feel. When we find ourselves griping about something outside of us, it’s a good sign that we haven’t addressed something inside. -Gabrielle Bernstein

Last week, I went to the mall after work. To shop for our anniversary. And I didn't have the best experience from the get-go. I had to track someone down to let me in a dressing room, and then she acted like she didn't want to help me. And then I rang the bell for help and no one came. And then when I went out to get another size and came back,  my door had been closed. When I found someone else to let me back into the dressing room, she wanted to ask me a million questions. What was my size? What was I looking for? And I was all like, "It looks like I've found things! This interrogation would have been helpful the multiple times you pretended you didn't see me as I dug through all your drawers!"

Anyway, once I had my pretties, things turned around. I left the dressing room with my intended purchases feeling powerful and excited. But that didn't last long.

There were 5 people in line in front of me. And four people quickly stepped up behind me. And there was one register open.

I could see three employees in the same section of the store stocking makeup and lotions. They could all see the line. No one made movement to open another register. I started to get frustrated. Then the lady at the one open register started spending a lot of time on her monitor, cueing me in that this was not a standard transaction. And I started to notice the crowd around me. College girls. One of the guys working the cosmetics (GUYS! As in MAN!) asked on his headset if he should open another register, but then made no movement to do so. So I'm standing there with guys stocking cosmetics and college girls. Tall, tan, thin girls with their itty bitty bathing suits.

And I saw what I had in my hand. And I thought about how my size compared to theirs. And I was done. Just done. I stepped out of line, returned my merchandise to the "do not want" rack at the dressing room (yes, I walked across the store to leave my discarded items in their proper place) and I fired off this tweet:

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 5.00.44 PM

And I thought it was over. But once I got in the car? I got mad. Mad at myself. Because I realized what happened.

I am, in standard situations, a very patient person. I don't mind to wait for food (unless I'm on my lunch hour). I sometimes choose longer lines so others don't have to wait. I am not an impatient person.

So what was this about? Embarrassment. Insecurity. It was all my stuff.

Luckily, there is another location by my house. I went in with a hopeful attitude. I had a very attentive - but not smothering - helper. And I left with things I liked more (who knew two stores in the same city would have such different merchandise?) and strutted back into my house.

Yes, my experience of the two stores were completely different. But I wonder how much of that was me? I brought so much impatience and frustration in the first situation and wonder if people could pick up on that from me. Was I being treated differently because of them or because of their reaction to what I was giving off? Would I have had a similar stand-offish experience in the second store if I had gone in with my head down and not initiating conversation?

If I hadn't felt judgment toward myself, and feared it from others, would I have stepped out of line? How would I have responded differently if I were in line at the grocery store or the post office?

I know that I won't fire off a complaining tweet again without first asking myself, "So, Krissie, what do you need to feel?"

And then I'll probably tweet that. Because twitter is for self-discovery, right?

Check your complaints as they come up. Dig a little. Get uncomfortable. Figure out what you may need to feel.

Want to know more? Check out this little video by Gabrielle Bernstein. Just three minutes. Three minutes that lead to insight. Actually, about a minute and a half in, I stopped it because I felt so picked on and triggered. But I persevered. And that is a good thing.

longdailyshineP.S. Daily Shine starts MONDAY!