Never Complain, Never Explain

Have you ever tried to make it through an entire day without complaining, justifying or wriggling your way out of an uncomfortable situation?  If not, do you think you could do it?

Sounds easy enough, right?

Well today is Day 1 of my attempt to achieve this mission…..and to be honest, I’ve already failed!  And it’s only 10:30 am!  Darn that kid who smeared that pumpkin cupcake all over my front porch last night! 😉

This challenge came about as I was reading an article on yesterday, written by motivational coach and author, Greg Hickman.  Several years ago, Greg had stumbled across a phrase that he felt embodied the philosophy of all winners, and that was “Never Complain, Never Explain.” And I couldn’t agree more!

So Greg wrote the phrase on a piece a paper, and hung it in his office.  And so began his challenge to go one day without complaining or making excuses.  He thought it was going to be a piece of cake…..c’mon, it’s just 1 day!

Soon a month had passed and he said not only had he not met the challenge, but that he had not gone a day without doing BOTH complaining and explaining!

As I sat here reading this, all I could think was, how in the world could he not go a day without doing both, let alone one of these?!  Greg admits in the article that a month in and he was embarrassed and disappointed.  He too thought it would be such an easy task!

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and now have the saying “Never Complain, Never Explain” up on my wall in my office.  All I can think is that it only takes 21 days for a new habit to set in, so with seeing this phrase day in and day out, won’t that be enough?

Only time will tell.  Greg shared that 5 years later (yes, I did say years!), he still has that tattered piece of paper hanging on his wall!  So I think it’s safe to say I clearly have my work cut out for me!  While Greg has yet to succeed in making it one single day without complaining or making an excuse, he’s learned that this challenge will be a lifelong pursuit.

And a mighty worthy pursuit it is!

This challenge really is a process about eliminating negative feelings, limiting beliefs and destructive actions.  By bringing more awareness to the choices you make, you naturally become a much more enjoyable person to be around.  And the more consciously you participate in the world, the more of an impact you can make!  And who’s not for that?! 🙂

The truth is, complaining is really an outward expression of an inner frustration.  We think that by complaining about it we’ll find a solution, but all that really happens is that we end up dwelling on the situation when you could have long since moved on!  When you can’t change a situation, you can always change your attitude about it!

On top of that, when we complain, we give up our power to do something about it.  Not to mention that complaining completely negates happiness!  It’s just not possible to be happy and complaining at the same time.  And that’s a sad fact!  😉

Successful people understand that negativity zaps energy, motivation and focus, so avoid complainers at all costs.  Therefore, if you’re a complainer, well, you’ll likely find yourself hanging out with other complainers!  Yikes!  That’s reason enough, right?!

Same goes for excuses.  When people make excuses, it is usually out of a need for external validation.  We feel we have to defend our position or justify the decisions and actions we take.  Well if you are making sound choices that you know are right for you, then you shouldn’t have anything to get defensive about, right?!  There is huge power in taking responsibility for our choices and our actions….and everything that results!

That being said, I must say, sometimes explaining just plain helps a situation!  I know I’ve had plenty of times where I would have felt much better had I known WHY something happened as it did.  I don’t want to know why with a string of lame excuses, but in the form of an apology and a reason so that we can discuss whatever needs to be discussed so it doesn’t happen again.  Failure to explain can lead to distrust, resentment and anger, so sometimes it just seems like the better choice to make.

But I also know that sometimes there is nothing more powerful than silence.

The thing that’s at the core of both complaining and explaining is the need to increase our awareness of ourselves.  It’s about going inside, shifting perspectives, and taking responsibility.

We all know that what we think about and speak about is what we bring about.  So when you’re complaining about the weather, your meal at a restaurant, the traffic, your boss, your aches and pains, your family or how broke (fat, tired, etc.) you are …. well, you are attracting more of all that stuff that you’re complaining about in the first place!

It’s a vicious and painful cycle to get stuck in.

“Some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to,when all they need is one reason why they can.” -Willis R. Whitney

The bottom line is, the more positive you are, the more fulfilling your life will be! This is why I, along with many others, have written posts about things like the importance of a gratitude journal, affirmations, and meditation.  Because the more conscious we are about our actions and expressions, the more we can shine our light and make a positive impact in our world.

And so I begin my challenge….I do hope you join me!

I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ what is something you know you complain about that really isn’t serving you in your growth and expansion?  Are you ready to let it go?  Or at least begin the lifelong pursuit? 🙂

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58 Responses to “Never Complain, Never Explain”

  1. Yes, it can be some serious work to let go of complaining and explaining. I guess the question I’d ask is, what good does it serve when you do react to someone else’s stuff? Because that’s really all it is….THEIR stuff. Not yours. Not about you. Focus on YOU and what positivity you can put out to create what you want your world to look like. 🙂


  2. Very cool Alison! It’s not always easy, but sounds like you’ve got a good base to operate from. 🙂 I think life is always about stretching just a bit farther than is comfortable….that’s how we grow and create amazing things. Enjoy the process, and stop back and let me know how it’s going! 🙂


  3. Great to hear, Aaron. Best of luck and enjoy the process, there is much to be learned about ourselves in it! 🙂


  4. Beth,

    What a great article. I adopted a similar principle nearly 8 years ago and it has transformed my life.

    Instead of elimating all complaining, I made a commitment to grow every single day. That one decision has transformed my destiny.

    I think I will add this concept on top of what I am already doing. Thanks for the great advice.



    bethallen Reply:

    What a great commitment to make, Chuck! While I never really “committed” to daily growth, it is what I believe has made me who I am. Thanks for your contribution, and i”m glad I could add something new to your journey. Enjoy!


  5. If I was Greg I think ten years down the line I would still be looking at that paper and saying oops I did it again because it is so hard to stop some things. We always complain which is not good. Anyway I have been motivated and I will try this and see for how long I will manage to go without complaining.


  6. Never complain, never explain is such a difficult task to do. And I think it’s not even possible for most of us.


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