Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

Sidestep Grumblings by assuming positive intent

It’s been almost five months since I started this blog, and every time I write a post I learn something.

I’ve learned that what I think I’m going to write often isn’t what I need to write — that is to say, I may think I’ve gotten to the bottom of something, but a different truth comes out in the writing. Writing forces me to keep on thinking until I get to what feels like the truth.

I’ve learned that I get the best response when I write the honest and simple truth of my heart.

I’ve learned that just because I wrote about a technique and decided to go along with it doesn’t mean that it’ll take.

I’m a great believer in doing what I say, which means that since I’ve started this blog I hardly ever grumble. And I’ve put into practice all the great techniques I’ve mentioned. Whenever I feel a grumble sneaking up on me, I simply reach into my bag of holding and pull out whichever tool best fits the situation. It works like a charm!

Alas, no.

I’ve learned that Grumblings the dragon is still hanging around.

Grumblings is still around, sneaking up on me when I'm not paying attention

Grumblings is still around, sneaking up on me when I’m not paying attention

In one of my first posts, I wrote about two ways to stop myself from grumbling. One of them was to assume positive intent. I was reminded of this recently during a brief mystical moment, late at night, in the kitchen. What better place to receive a mystical gift?

A conversation I had before bed had left me feeling agitated. I lay wide awake, adrenaline pumping. Anxiety gave way to sadness, sadness bubbled up into anger and anger fizzled into anxiety. And the cycle went on and on. I was in no shape to sleep, so I got up and went to the kitchen to do dishes. The dish fairy hadn’t come yet, so I turned on a late-night blues show on CBC and got to work.

Something was different in how I muttered to myself this time. This time, I noticed the monologue that was happening in my mind. I noticed that my mind was working up to a good mad. I knew I needed help. I tried to think adult thoughts. I said a prayer. I took deep breaths. Then, as I leaned on the counter, staring at the coffeemaker, fighting against my own unhealthy patterns, something wonderful happened. I felt a simple thought drift down and settle around me like a blanket made of pixie dust. That amazing thought was simply assume positive intent.

How obvious! This simple thought made it possible for me to jump out of the cycle I was in and try looking at things from the other person’s point of view. It led me to realize that that person’s upset, which I’d been taking personally, didn’t necessarily have anything to do with me.

The problem with this conversation I had been having was that it was all in my head. All of it was imaginary, including possible contributions by the other person. I was able to see that I’d been trying to build up enough anger to protect myself from whatever perceived threat there might be, just in case there might be one.

The part that makes me shake my head is that my own upset was all because the person who really was upset simply wasn’t ready to talk yet. No statements had been made, nothing expressed. My adrenaline reaction was all the result of my own imaginings.

I’m grateful that this time I was able to notice my own unhelpful inner monologue enough to know that I needed to stop. And even a few days later I’m still amazed and grateful for the mystical reminder to assume positive intent. Whatever the reason for the magical feeling — lack of sleep, a dim kitchen late at night, desperation, a spiritual gift — I’m grateful for it.

And while I’m on the subject of gratitude, I want to say thank you to anyone who is reading this. You may not realize that I feel accountable to you, but I do. Tiny increment by tiny increment (I’m a slow learner!), writing Goodbye Grumblings is making me a better person. I’m convinced that writing down these ideas for how to avoid grumbling is making me more likely to actually remember them at crucial moments. Thank you!

So, how do you remember the good tools and techniques that you know you should use in times of stress, anger or grumbling? How do you step out of your own patterns and try something new? Leave a comment or send an email to susan at


About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

2 Replies

  1. Auntie

    Another good one! Isn’t it lovely when we have such an epiphany in the middle of the night? I find I would like to wake up the whole house and share it, but then I remember it is meant for me and I need to listen to it. Lovely thought process Susan, and thank you for sharing your grumblings, it makes mine a little easier to handle!!!

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks Auntie. I always imagine mystical things happening, but they don’t seem to generally happen to me. This time, it did, and it was so very helpful. It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one wrestling with grumblings.

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