The Complaint Department

You know, when I grew up – at the big T. Eaton’s Department Store in Winnipeg, (it’s not there anymore – the department store, not Winnipeg!)..... there was a whole area called the Complaint Department.

If you had an ‘issue’ with a purchase or an employee, that’s where you would go. Returns, exchanges, explanations, apologies,...all of it was dealt with at this area. Later, it was called the Courtesy Desk. And then the Customer Service Department. And then it all disappeared along with the store.

Hmmmph. It was a great place to complain. To have someone listen to you. And then do something about it.

Nowadays (I’m dating myself with that word!), we can complain all we want, and nothing gets done. Perhaps it is because we only complain to each other, and never to the parties who can actually GET something done. Did ya think of that?!

Studies show that when we're dissatisfied with certain products, 95% of us fail to complain to the company because we fear doing so will be annoying and time consuming, and we're unlikely to get the response we want. We are equally avoidant when it comes to complaints to our loved ones. We fear voicing them will only lead to an argument and resolve nothing. Instead, we reach for the phone, call our friends and vent to them instead.

(Guy Winch, Ph.D)

Energetically speaking though, and on the path of evolving spiritually, complaining puts us at a very low vibration. It feeds anger and hostility, and allows the negativity to be reborn and to be re-lived every time we complain. Those of us with negative emotions, faulty beliefs and rigidly held tenets are prone to complaining, and thus hampered in spiritual growth.

We are all beings of energy. Many of us don’t realize just how much of this energy is used in complaining, and further, just how much of this complaining impacts our mental health.

How Complaining Ineffectively Harms Our Mental Health

Take a moment to consider how many things you complain about in a given day. The weather, public transportation and traffic, your spouse, your kids, your friends, your boss, the movie you just saw and hated, the meal that arrived cold in the restaurant, the sandwich shop that got your order wrong, the elevator that took too long, the reality television show that booted off your favorite contestant, and the list goes on and on.

When we have so many dissatisfactions and frustrations, yet believe we're powerless to do much about them or to get the results we want, we are left feeling helpless, hopeless, victimized, and bad about ourselves. Obviously, one such incident won't harm our mental health, but we have so many complaints, this scenario happens many times a day. This accumulation of frustration and helplessness can add up over time and impact our mood, our self-esteem, and even our general mental health.

It has been postulated that chronic complaining and fault-finding stems from fear-based emotion, and is deeply rooted in the lower 3 chakras – especially Manipura, the 3rd chakra. The causes may be many and varied, but that is not the reason for this writing.

Yoga addresses the Here and the Now. That’s one of the reasons why I love yoga so much. The Why is always interesting to the academic, but the Now is ever so much more important. Not How we got here, but Whatto do with what we have! Yoga asks us to sit back, become still and be mindful of how we use our precious energy. After all is said and done, the very first step along the Eight-limbed Path of Yoga, is the practice of Ahimsa. Not harming. By virtue of action, speech or thought.