Unfortunately, we often sabotage our acceptance by engaging in what for many of us is our favorite pastime—moaning. It never ceases to amaze me how much time we’re able to devote to berating others and generally bemoaning our lot. Just open your ears on the bus, on the street, in the café—we’re continually complaining that life isn’t good enough. And that’s a real problem. Because whenever I’m moaning about something, I’m throwing my acceptance out of the window.
What’s the difference between moaning and complaining?
Moaning is when we’re expressing negativity about some aspect of our lives, without any attempt to accept or change that thing. When we moan, it’s just Little Me expressing an idea of “It’s not fair” without any hope of making any difference to what’s happening. We’re just letting off steam.
Complaining, on the other hand, can be a proactive attempt to change something. So when I get served awful food in a restaurant, I might complain to the waiter—with the intention of somehow improving the situation. But there’s no need to moan.
So although “moaning” and “complaining” can be used to refer to the same activity, I’m going to stick with the word “moaning” to talk about this particularly destructive habit.
Why is moaning such a problem?
It’s probably the main way that many of us express our lack of acceptance toward our circumstances. In itself, that expression could be useful for me, as it could be used to make me more aware of what I’m not accepting. A useful first step toward freedom from moaning is simply to notice how much I’m doing it and what things I’m tending to moan about. This can then shed some light on the areas of non-acceptance in my life. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way that many of us tend to relate to our moaning. Little Me doesn’t like to moan because it hopes to learn something. It likes to moan to express negativity and put itself in opposition to the rest of the world—which is exactly where Little Me most likes to be.
And this habitual moaning has a negative impact on my capacity to accept. If I’m expressing my annoyance, then I’m actually distracting my attention away from just experiencing that annoyance—the necessary first step toward accepting that feeling. I’m denying myself the opportunity to see clearly what needs to be seen and feel what needs to be felt. And if I don’t allow myself to simply be with the situation, then there’s no chance that I can be okay with it.
As long as I’m moaning, there’s no chance of acceptance. Moaning is a form of avoidance that makes it impossible for me to find peace in this moment.
Unfortunately, the ego loves the habit of moaning so much that it might be resistant to giving it up. Moaning reinforces a particular worldview that suits the ego’s needs perfectly: “It’s unfair. I’m miserable because of what you did. The whole world is against me.” And even though these ideas may have little connection with reality, what does Little Me care about reality? It just wants to keep on feeling that it’s at the center of the universe.
Even when my moaning is directed against myself, the ego is still getting the necessary massaging. Expressions of “I’m not good enough,” “I’m always making the same mistakes,” “Everybody hates me for good reason” are just as useful to strengthen the ego. I may not be able to create a worldview that portrays me as the victim in all this, but as long as I still have the possibility to express my utter uselessness through my moaning, then everything is okay. Little Me is still center stage. It’s utterly insane, but this is what the ego is doing by moaning.
What effect does acceptance have on our tendency to moan?
It kills it. If I’m fully accepting the moment—experiencing that joyful feeling inside me—then any desire to moan will disappear. Moaning becomes utterly superfluous.