What do you complain about the most? Is it your house? Your bills? Your job? Maybe it’s a friend? We all have our complaints. And today, I want to encourage you to find the gratitude in them. I’m sharing seven common complaints that you can find the gratitude in. So, let’s dive in.
Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.
Hello, beautiful people. How’s it going? I am so excited because tomorrow, I leave to go spend about 10 days with my mom and dad. I’m heading back for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I just can’t wait to see them. It’s been a while.
By the time you listen to this, it’s actually going to be the day before Thanksgiving, if you listen to it the day it’s released. And this is the season that we often talk about gratitude. And I’m a proponent for us being grateful all of the time. But this holiday season is all about giving thanks, and so I wanted to do a podcast on complaints that we should actually be grateful for.
As I was preparing for this episode, I took myself through this exercise. I started to think about the things in my past I used to complain about a lot, and what are some of the things that I catch myself complaining about now. And I’m going to share those with you, and share with you how you can find the gratitude in these things.
Gratitude is such a beautiful emotion, you all. A lot of my work within the School of Self-Image is living from your future. And what I always encourage my members to think about is their future self, and how is she thinking? How is she feeling? How is she showing up in the world? Because you have to be her now.
And one of the things that I know about my future self – and I’m suspecting yours as well – is that she is full of gratitude. We should not wait until our life has changed to be grateful. There are things around you to be grateful for right now. And the more you’re grateful for the things in your life, the more you’re going to draw to you to be grateful for.
And while it’s easier to be grateful for the things that you think are going well and right, it’s often more challenging to find the gratitude in the things that you complain about. But what I can offer you is that you can find gratitude in everything.
There’s something within your complaints that, I promise you, if you look deep enough, you’ll find something to be thankful for. So, I’m going to share some of mine with you. And I encourage you to think about other things that you may be complaining about that, if you take the time, you’re going to find so much to appreciate about that complaint.
So, the first one is your critics. I mean, no one really loves to be criticized. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s, like, my favorite activity. But one of the things that I’ve realized is that, as long as we’re living on the Earth with other people, you’re going to be criticized. And especially as you put yourself out in the world more and you live true to yourself and you express yourself and you have your own unique opinions and perspectives of the world, you’re going to be criticized.
But what I have found in terms of gratitude around my critics are one of two things. Sometimes, the criticism is coming from a loving and caring place. These are the people who will share something with you because they want to see you get better. They want to see you grow. But if you are so afraid of criticism that you don’t allow it in your life, chances are you’re living a very small life and you’re missing incredible opportunities to get better.
So, when it comes to my critics, I find so much gratitude in what they share with me, knowing, from a certain group of them, it is coming from a place of them wanting to see me get better. And I don’t even know if critic is a great word for this group. I just think they’re amazing people giving me great feedback. But we’ll just keep them in this category.
But then there’s the other group that we really don’t like to receive feedback from. And these are the critics who are just hating on you. They don’t even know you. They just don’t like the look of your face or the sound of your voice or anything that you say. You all know who I’m talking about. Not you particularly, but you’ve probably encountered people like this.
And for me, because I have a public profile and I put my thoughts and my face out there for the world to see, I sometimes get this too, and I’m so thankful for them because this group of people, they have been solely responsible for making me stronger, for making me stand even truer in who I am and for making me even more courageous and building my confidence.
And so, when I think about my critics, either camp, they have helped me grow in the most amazing ways. Sometimes, getting better in terms of what I’m putting out in the world, in terms of being a better friend, a better daughter, you name it.
But the other group, they’ve just made me stronger. They’ve made me do the work of liking myself more and believing in myself more. So, a huge thank you to my critics. I really do love you. You have helped me tremendously.
Okay, the second complain that you can find gratitude in is rejection. What we perceive as a negative, at the time, may turn out to be a blessing. My experience has been that, in the moment, rejection feels awful.
An example is, when I was in the dating world last year, I went out with this guy – and I wasn’t crazy about him. He was lovely. We had a great time together. But he just didn’t seem that interested. And I felt a little rejected. But I let it go and I went on to find the guy that I’m with now. So grateful that that happened.
Funny enough, this guy later would not stop texting. I guess, for him, it took him a while to warm up to the idea of us dating. But I just remember, especially when you’re new in the dating world, that feels awful. It was like, “Ugh, what happened.” But now, looking back, I am so grateful for that rejection because it went on to lead to me meeting the man I’m with now who I’m so in love with.
We are such a better match, obviously. But that rejection put a little detour in my path. I was like, “Okay, not this one. Let’s go to the next one.” And then I dated a couple other people and ended up finding my guy.
I also remember, when I graduated from nursing school, I desperately wanted a job in the emergency room. I thought that’s where all the action was. I saw myself as being a great ER nurse. And I was one of the top students in my nursing class. So I was like, “Surely they’re going to hire me.”
And we all were applying to three different hospitals out of my nursing class. And many of my fellow students wanted to also work in the emergency room. And I’ll never forget, my brother-in-law – at the time we went to nursing school together – he called me and was like, “I got a job in the ER.” And then another girl that I was in school with, she text – not text. She called me. We didn’t have texting at the time.
She called me to say, “I got a job in the emergency room.” And I heard nothing. It was crickets. And I ended up not getting a job in the emergency room. But I got a job on the telemetry unit doing, basically, med surg at a local hospital. And I was devastated. I felt so rejected.
And I started to run the story of, “What’s wrong with me? ‘m not good enough.” You know how that is. But it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for me. What I learned working on a med surg floor, the people I worked with, the experiences that I had actually made me a better nurse. And when it was time for me to move on and eventually go work in critical care, I felt so strong in my skillset, and I was better able to be a good nurse because I had that year-long experience on a med surg floor.
Had I gone straight to the ER, I would have managed, I would have stepped up to the plate. But there was so much I didn’t know yet. So, looking back at all of the different times that I’ve been rejected, while in the moment, like I said, it feels awful, there’s so much to be grateful for because it led me to something even better.
I love the mantra of, “What is for you will not pass you. If it passes you, it wasn’t for you.” And I’m sure there are many of you listening who have been rejected in the past and then you look at where you are now and you’re like, “Thank god that happened.” It actually was a blessing.
So, now when I have rejection – and as long as we put ourselves out there in the world and we are asking for big things and we’re going after big goals, we are going to experience rejection. Just a fact. But now, when it happens, I just trust in the process and I’m so grateful for it. I’m like, “Okay, if this door closed, a better one is going to open. I just know it.” And I’m grateful for it. And I’ve learned to be grateful even quicker than waiting until I see the results later on down the road.
In that moment I’m like, “Okay, thank you. This sucks, but thank you. I’m trusting that something better is coming.”
The next complaint that we probably all complain about – because it’s not fun to experience, but I find there’s so much gratitude to be found in this particular complaint – is pain; physical pain and emotional pain.
I know it’s tempting to believe that a life free of pain would just be bliss, would be amazing. But what I’ve come to understand is that without contrast in life, we can’t really appreciate anything. Without pain, we don’t know what it feels like to be physically well. Without pain, we don’t appreciate the positive emotions.
Pain is an essential feeling, both physically and emotionally. On a physical level, our bodies need pain signals to tell us when there is potential damage going on to our bodies. It’s signaling to us to take action, to change things.
Maybe it’s telling us we need to go see a doctor or we need to drink more water, or we need to get up and stretch. But when we are having physical pain, it’s simply a friend there to tell us something is out of whack. Something is not in harmony.
And the same goes for emotional pain. It’s trying to guide us away from situations or ways of thinking that are not helpful to us. If we didn’t have the ability to feel either of these pains, it would destroy us. We would just stay in unhealthy situations. We would continue to think in ways that don’t serve us.
So, for me, when pain occurs now – it depends on what kind of pain. If it’s physical pain, I love to get into my body and say, you know, “Wat’s going on? What do you need right now? What do I need to do? What do I need to not do? Tell me what you need. Thank you for being the messenger.”
And when it comes to emotional pain, the process is very similar. I allow myself to feel the emotion and to understand what is causing it. It’s always going to be a thought in my head, always. And sometimes, it’s a thought telling me, “You need to go. You need to leave. This is not a good situation for you.”
And I need to trust that inner voice. And sometimes, it’s just a thought of, “You suck. You’re a loser. You’re not good enough.” I don’t have those thoughts as much anymore because I just don’t allow myself to ruminate in that kind of stinking thinking. But occasionally, it still pops up. And that is a sign for me to go in and clean up my thinking. So, I’m so grateful for the pain because I trust that it’s there as a guide and as a friend leading me towards my best life.
Another common complaint – and I hear this a lot from the mommas – is a messy house. I remember those days, y’all. It wasn’t that long ago My daughter, I love her, but she is a little messy. But you know what? I was too when I was her age.
It is something that I’ve grown into, being neat and organized. And I do love a clean house. And because of my life situation now, it’s a lot easier for me to keep my house clean. But I remember getting frustrated and complaining about her mess.
And then, there was a day when she was gone. She was off, living her own life. And I missed the mess because I missed her. Yeah, in our perfect world with our perfect vision boards, having a pristine, clean, organized house is a thing. I feel like it’s something that all of us women dream about.
And I do believe in working towards that. But here’s what I don’t want you to do, is to make yourself and your family miserable trying to attain this idea of perfection in your home. I feel like, when there are kids around, it’s just going to be a little messy. And with conversations and routines and requests, it can get a little better.
But at the end of the day, I feel like there’s so much to be grateful for in the mess. In fact, I threw a party not too long ago, and after everyone left it was like one in the morning. It was a mess. There were glasses and plates and food everywhere. And I had a moment of, “I’m just so grateful for this because it means I have friends. It means I have food to provide to them. It means that we had an amazing night, and I will have this memory forever.”
I was grateful for the mess. And so, as we’re entering into the holiday season, maybe you’re going to be having people over, the kids are going to be out of school on vacation, and you may find yourself in a messy environment. I want you to find the gratitude in it, and then get in there and clean it up, if that’s what you want to do.
But the worst thing you can do is complain about it because, I promise you all, there will be a day when you look up and your little kiddos are off at school, they’ve grown up, and you’re going to miss the mess because you miss them. So, why not be grateful for it now?
Let’s talk about another common complaint. And that’s the envelopes that arrive in the mailbox that tell you that you owe money. I’m talking about bills.
I used to complain about it, especially a tax bill. I didn’t like it. It made me frustrated. I’m like, “Why do I have to pay all these taxes? Why is the heating bill so high? But now that I’ve practiced looking through the lens of gratitude, gosh, I am so thankful for that tax bill.
It means I have a company and that I get to provide services to people that make their lives better. It means I have a team that I get to pay so that they can provide for their families. It means that I live in a country that has paved roads and school systems and assistance for other people. I’m grateful for that bill now. I don’t complain about it anymore. Because complaining about it – I still have to pay it, right?
So, I can pay for it with a sense of gratitude and appreciation, or I can make myself miserable and complain about it. At the end of the day, the bill’s going to get paid. Same goes for any bill. The heating bill means, “Oh my goodness, I’m staying warm in the winter.” A credit card bill, it could symbolize many things, “Thank goodness I was able to purchase these things.”
And from that place of gratitude, I feel in abundance. And from that place of abundance, I’m able to create and attract more abundance. So, if y’all are complaining about the bills, I want you to stop. It’s not going to help you pay them better, right? It’s not going to make them disappear. They’re still going to be there.
You get to decide how you show up for the events of your life. So, you can show up and complain and be bitter and resentful. Or you can show up and be grateful. Because within those bills, I promise you, there’s something to be grateful for.
Another thing that we complain about – not really a thing. It’s actually a person that we complain about a lot. And I want you to stop it. And that is yourself. I want you to pay attention to the thoughts that you have about yourself, about your abilities, about your past, about your present, about your body. What else do you complain about with yourself?
Sometimes, we are our biggest complaint. And there is so much to be grateful for within yourself. And the more you celebrate you, the more you appreciate you, the more you extend gratitude towards yourself, it shifts your energy. It changes your self-image. You literally start to see yourself different.
And if you’ve listened to any of my previous episodes, I talk about the power of self-image. You cannot create beyond your self-image. So, if your self-image is that of a woman who is constantly complaining about herself, you have created a cap as to how far you can grow and to what you can accomplish. And it’s got to stop.
If you look through the lens of gratitude, you will see things that you’re not currently seeing. You will start to see decisions that you made in the past that were good, that supported you. You will see things within yourself, your abilities that you’re not currently celebrating. You will see your body as this amazing and beautiful thing that supports you in your life.
Want us all to stop complaining about ourselves, especially when it comes to our abilities and our bodies. Because when you shift that, you’re going to start to look for more of what you want to see. And I promise you, you’re going to find it everywhere. If you all just celebrated yourself half as much as you complain about yourself, you would see your life drastically change.
So, these kinds of thought patterns and ways of treating ourselves are ingrained. It takes time to create a new operating system. So, the next time you find yourself complaining about yourself – maybe it’s your weight, maybe it’s something you thought you did wrong, a past mistake, I want you to instantly turn it into a gratitude. Find the gratitude within yourself fin that moment.
Even if we do 50-50, it’s going to change your life dramatically. And eventually, I want you to get to a place where you’re celebrating yourself and being grateful for yourself, far more than you’re criticizing and complaining about yourself. Do we have a deal there? Good.
The last complaint that we’re going to cover in this episode – there are many, many more. But I find that this one is really important. Because I hear my members complain about this. And listen, I have certainly complained about it. But now, I understand the gratitude and the beauty in this.
And that is dreams not-yet realized. I know we want it to happen, and we want it to happen now. We’re frustrated because it hasn’t happened yet. And we start to give up hope and faith that it’s going to happen. But I want us to practice being thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
Really think about that. Imagine if you’ve had everything you wanted right now in this moment. Then what? What would you have to look forward to? What would you wake up in the morning excited about? I know it seems like something you would want, but I’ve come to realize that that’s not true.
In fact, I remember reading an article about some really well-known startups. They talked about Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and like three other different big companies now, but they were talking about when they were in the startup phase. And looking back, they were saying that that was the best time of their lives, when they weren’t there yet, when they were in the beginning stages of figuring things out and making mistakes and failing.
That was the exciting part. And I do believe the anticipation is often better than the dream itself. And I’ve experienced that so many times. I know that to be true. And I bet you, you’ve experienced it to. If you look around at your life right now, there are many things that you once dreamt of having that you currently have. And now it’s probably no big deal. It’s just a normal part of your life.
Maybe it’s your house. Maybe it’s your kids. Maybe it’s your job. Maybe you’ve lost the weight. Maybe you started a business. At one time, that was a dream. And now you have it. and yet still, we complain about the things we don’t yet have.
And the problem with that is that, number one, you miss out on appreciating what you already have that you once wanted. And number two, it puts you in a state of lack. You’re focused on what you don’t yet have versus being in the energy of already having it. If you had it, you would be grateful for it.
So, you can start to be grateful for your unrealized dreams now. There are many things in my future that I envision. And I am grateful for it. I am grateful for it ahead of time. I trust that I am on the path to it. I don’t know how it’s going to happen. I don’t even know when it’s going to happen. But what I do know is that the reason why I want that is because of the feeling that I think having that will give me.
But that can’t give me a feeling. Do you know what gives me my feelings and gives you your feelings? Your thoughts. So, I don’t have to wait until I’ve reached some goal in the future to feel the way I want to feel. I get to feel that now, which is why I love being in gratitude for the goals and the dreams I haven’t yet achieved.
Because I know that, the more I’m in that energy, the more I’m going to be a match for it. And I also know that if I had everything I wanted right now, what a boring life that would be.
Again, I know it seems sexy, but really think about it. It’s not. And I know we dream of being there already, but there is no there. There’s only here in this moment. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. We can envision it. we can show up for it. and we can create it. But we’re all going to be surprised at how it unfolds.
That’s the beauty of the mystery of life. And if we knew everything that was going to happen, we would be bored out of our minds. We think we want that, but really question it. Do you really? Do you want to know everything that happens in your future? Or are you willing to just let it be the mystery that it is and to be grateful for it?
Be grateful for the goals you haven’t achieved yet. It means you have something to work towards. It means you have something to look forward to. It means there’s still more life to be had. So, find the gratitude in those dreams not-yet realized because, by being grateful for it now, you put yourself in alignment with it.
So, now it’s your turn. I want you to pay attention over the next week to the things you complain about the most, and I want you to find the gratitude in them. I promise you, if you search for it, you will find it. And het, listen, if you want to share it with me, head over to Instagram, @tonyaleigh and leave me a comment or DM me and let me know what you discover.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating here in the States and love to you all. I cannot wait to see you in next week’s episode, Cheers.
Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to schoolofselfimage.com/manifesto and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.