I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately. I guess that’s expected with a long-term relationship that’s no longer a thing, but still, I recognize that after two weeks (to the day), I should probably start to wean myself off feeling sorry for myself and start focusing on what matters now – health, happiness, and getting through school (doesn’t make an “h” alliteration, but oh well).
In her new book, No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy, documentary film maker and author Cianna P. Stewart creates a guide on how to snap out of an endless pity party in order to move past stressful situations in a healthy manner.
She opens with the idea that “nearly every self-development and spiritually-enlightened person says the first step to improving your life and experiencing happiness is to stop complaining and to start taking personal responsibility.” This book couldn’t have come at a better time, because I think I’m finally read to stop going through the many stages of grief (another post on that later), and start focusing on moving on after the breakup.
The book is broken into five sections: Getting Set Up, Awareness, the Inner Critic, Interruption, and Replacement. She calls the process as a whole “going NoCo,” or no complaining. Stewart says that this book “is for anyone who feels stuck and wants to make a change.” Hello, raising both hands. I need to make a positive shift forward and pick myself up after these last few weeks of chaos (and way, way too much crying).
One of my favorite things throughout the book are the inspiration quotes that fit with each section. The first one is from Maya Angelou, who said “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
A moment of silence for how powerful that statement is.
Case and point, my breakup (you bet I’m going to over-analyze it until it’s no longer applicable). I can’t change the outcome. He wanted out because his family felt like I didn’t like them (albeit not true, just didn’t understand a lot of how they approached the world/interactions with other people, myself included).
He wanted out because I still think he has a lot of personal growth to work on that couldn’t be facilitated if I was there stepping in to help him.
He wanted out because he couldn’t fathom a reality where the degree to which I loved him could ever take precedent to the possibility of a relationship with his parents.
I can’t change him and I deserve to be in a relationship that puts value in “us” above everyone else. I’m not saying I’m more important than anyone else in this fictitious partner’s life, just that I would’ve gone to (metaphorically) bat for him against anyone -family, friends, you name it. I put him ahead of my studies, work, even my own happiness, because seeing him happy made me happy.
At the end of the day, I don’t think it was a two-way street to the degree of an equal partnership.
This book does a great job of asking poignant questions to start internal dialogues, for example:
“What do you want to change about the way you’re living now?”
“Who would be affected if you made these changes.”
The questions are open-ended enough to make this a useful tool to a lot of people, without being too vague like a magic eight ball. There are 52 activities in total, and each one builds off the prior one. I don’t think this book has to be done in one day, but it’s helpful to have a way to document what’s bothering you and why. Your perceived reality is something that’s extremely fluid, and even after you learn tools to cope with stressful situations, it takes endless amounts of practice to be able to reframe the situation and approach it more thoughtfully.
This book emphasizes the difference between complaining and problem-solving. As much as I hate talking on and on about this breakup, teasing out why it hurts and figuring out ways to best move on actually has helped.
In sum, I’d say this is a great book to get if you’re going through something difficult and want to reflect on working through it in a healthy way. It’s much cheaper than a therapy session (but in no way should be a replacement – I highly recommend seeking professional help if you’re in a bad place and/or need the assistance of stronger things like special types of therapy or medication). The book’s written in such a non-judgmental tone, I felt like I was talking to a friend (without having to burden a real one with my endless rants). I’d say it’s also a great tool to have if you feel like you’ve exhausted other ways of coping with a stressful situation (friendship, relationship, work, family obligations, etc.).
What’s the worst that can happen? You give it a try and maybe cultivate a better understanding about yourself and the way you are inclined to approach a stressful situation? I’d say that’s a worthwhile investment (let alone if the book actually helps you overcome the stressor and enables you to see it from a different perspective).
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Purchase this title — No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy
Score Card: Cover Art 4/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy by Cianna P. Stewart
Genre- Self Help
Page Count- 175