Tea Talk: Don’t explain and don’t complain

Space of quiet non-response ... Aligning body, mind and spirit.

There is something that I have noticed recently. A culture of complaining has become normal. I love the saying my old friend, Mercia Davids, would often exclaim, “Don’t explain and don’t complain”. Apparently coined by former British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli and adopted by the late British Queen’s mother.

At the time, it taught me about boundaries and saying no to something that I didn’t want to do, without offering a nonsensical explanation followed by regretful over-thinking. 

Complaining demonstrates a victim mindset. There is something that we can do about most things by just changing our own mindset and not dwelling on unmet expectations. At work and at home, it is normal to have different opinions and ways of accomplishing tasks. However, these situations cause silos and turf wars as well as resentment.

Keep a rubber band on your wrist and every time you find yourself complaining pull it, so it stings you! This is a great NLP (neuro linguistic programming) tool to anchor or modify a behaviour. Complaining also invites its sister — criticism — to the table. Think about how criticism will be received and structure responses from a place of non-judgment. A lesson learnt is as much as one of my values is justice, it does not mean that I am the judge. That certainly made me conscious of my interactions past and present.

In daily conversations, think about whether you are responding to another person or situation from something that is triggered within you; that is projected outwards. Learning to emanate from within is my practice for this week. How can I communicate?

My meditation teacher this morning asked how I communicate? In the first instance,  naturally with my voice. Then on dropping into the question more contemplatively, I noted that listening, feeling, writing, dancing and lastly speaking are some of the ways in which I communicate with myself and others.

The lesson continued with the invitation not to have to speak to show one’s response or truth, but by actions. Body language, smiling, nodding, being expressive. I always thought that I was vocal and yet I am discovering that there are layers to unblock. How interesting this personal development uncovering is.

An upsetting situation was hearing that my elderly aunt had her personal sentimental pieces of jewellery stolen. She lives with her husband in a retirement flat in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. New neighbours purportedly knocked on the door to introduce themselves and my aunt, always gracious and welcoming, invited them in. The man asked to go to the bathroom. He went into the bedroom cupboard and stole her gold items, a wedding ring of 60 years and other sentimental items. I was so angry and upset that this happened. And went to sleep in a flood of tears.

 Looking at the incident, my aunt said she had many years of pleasure from her jewellery and she would not let this break her. I was holding my reaction to the incident  in my heart and deciphered that I am not attached to my pieces of jewellery so that wasn’t the cause of my devastation. Why was I so upset? Perhaps that vulnerable and old people are targets and it’s so unfair. 

My aunt and uncle were safe, however,  and the gang that stole from them apparently were armed , so it was a lucky escape. The deep feeling within me then emerged.  Inadequate financial security in old age is a fear that I had projected and was carrying heavily within me. Yet my aunt had already moved on from the incident.

How we go about our lives not taking on all the issues surrounding us and instead transmuting the emotions as well as understanding our own reactions is important. My aunt taught me a valuable lesson to once  be thankful and grateful that things were not worse and to acknowledge that we are more than jewellery and material possessions. Sending them my love in a quiet prayer and asking God for their protection and some reward is what I am choosing to do instead of being in a knot over it and projecting !

My practice is to watch what triggers me and unravel it and move into a space of quiet non-response. This should make living with myself simpler!

How fascinating our inner lives are and what a privilege to take time this year to work on myself and align body, mind and spirit.  

  • White is a born and bred Zimbabwean. A career spanning banking, hospitality and courier/logistics. She wrote a column in The Post newspaper in Zambia for five years and published a book, Conversations with Carol, as well as hosting a TV programme featuring entrepreneurs and small businesses. Passionate about team transformation, customer experience mapping, sales and marketing and leadership which combines increases in profitability and performance, she connects the dots. — [email protected].


Related Topics