Removing my complaining mentality bit by bit
Greetings venerable Master, greetings fellow practitioners.
For a long time, I have been conscious of my strong competitive and critical mentality. These attachments show up frequently, and are at times obvious. In other moments, they are subtler, yet still manifest in other forms.
I find that I like to vocalise my own opinions, and frequently contradict and refute others. With each idea, suggestion or plan put forth by someone else, my first thought is to judge it using my own standard or notion, which often leads to negation or dispute rather than agreement or admiration. At times, I’m excessively picky; even if the bigger idea is acceptable, I need to find some small detail to pick at.
I have also realised that when arguing with others, or even when presenting my own ideas, it often comes across as abrupt. The words or the content, or the tone or attitude with which I speak, are often barbed or belligerent. I will talk loudly or rapidly, with a strong sense of proving my points, with the mentality of showing off or competitiveness. I envy those people who can express their thoughts in an unhurried, organised manner, as it’s rare for me to be able to speak calmly, peacefully, and patiently.
My competitive mentality has a long history. I’ve always liked to argue over even trivial matters, even in general chatting. Such a competitive mentality is closely related to the CCP culture instilled in our minds since childhood. After reading the “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” and the “Disintegration of the Party Culture”, this became crystal clear. So I have been trying to remind myself to pay attention in this regard, but often fail to do so.
Just to give a recent example: within a 2-day period, I spoke with two people, and from what I observed, they didn’t feel comfortable afterwards. The first was a conversation with a fellow practitioner from the Celestial Band who had not turned up to band practice several times in a row, and I asked: “Why do you always miss practice? Do you still want to be in the band? You should pay more attention to the band.” She answered bluntly: “Why are you so aggressive? I do pay attention to it.” I could feel that my words made her uncomfortable.
As for the second person: a fellow practitioner wanted to carpool with us to the Saturday Fa study, but his delay caused people already in the car to wait a long time. I called him and said: “In the future, you might want to fix a time for me to pick you up, or hitch a ride with someone who lives closer to you.” He explained it was a special case that day and on other days he wouldn’t have needed to delay others. He said in the future he would get a lift with the other practitioner because he was “easier to talk to”. During the conversation, I could sense that I had again made him uncomfortable.
There was an identical result with two different people, and a third person in those two days had a similar conversation with me. My words were difficult to swallow, and made others uncomfortable, and this in turn made me uncomfortable. I thought: “I spoke with good intentions, and none of it was for my own gain, so why did it turn out like that?”
Immediately, I thought: “As a practitioner, I need to look inward. The more uncomfortable I feel, the more I need to dig inward.” Since this happened on multiple occasions, I knew the problem was with me. For example, was I really correct? Did I say it well? The answer was no. So I didn’t need to feel uncomfortable. It was a good thing, as it allowed me to see the issues I had. I know that I often talk in such a way that disregards other people’s feelings. Even if my original intent was not for myself, hadn’t I forced my ideas onto others through the way I spoke? Did I put any thought into how they would feel? Did I ask about or care about their situation? Had I done it with compassion? After considering it, I understood that my words contained a strong sense of self, and strong competitive and critical mentalities. These were lessons for me to learn. Furthermore, one of them mentioned that another practitioner was “easier to talk to”. Wasn’t this a reflection of their compassion? Clearly, I was still lacking in this regard.
Closely related to showing off and a competitive mentality is a critical mentality, which has also accompanied me for quite a while. When the situation is not how I want it to be, or when things do not develop as envisioned, or when others do not agree with my way of thinking or working, or when I see the short-comings in others – of course, they may exist, but in many cases it’s due only to my assumptions – then my critical mentality arises. “How did it turn out like this?”, “Who did this?” The expression of such a mentality would create unhappiness for others and disrupt team harmony, never leaving good results. Sometimes I don’t express it and hide it in my heart. This Keeping creates unhappiness for me and a negative attitude that is not in line with a cultivator’s state.
I knew I needed to remove this complaining mentality. At the beginning of last year, I said to my child: “We should make a New Year’s resolution”. Such New Year’s resolutions are often written by children at the beginning of a year under the encouragement of parents and teachers. My daughter was no longer a child, so she thought I was joking, and replied: “There’s no need”. But I told her: “I have one, I am serious.” It is “no complaining”. Since then, I have paid particular attention to reminding myself of it, such as using “no complaints” for the password in my computers. Consequently, there has been some improvement, but I realised after more than a year that I still had not removed it fully. It was only slightly better, and I needed to continue to vigilantly stop it from arising, and if it did arise, to swiftly control and extinguish it.
Recently, I travelled out of
When I do translation proofreading for the media, my critical mentality easily appears. When I see simple translation mistakes, or inappropriate deletion of important content, I complain: “Why is it like that?” “How can such a simple mistake be made?” Then I remind myself not to complain, not to let the critical mentality come. If it does arise, then I push it away. I would turn around and think, everyone is doing their best, there isn’t anything worth criticising. Besides, if mistakes didn’t happen, we wouldn’t need proofreaders.
One evening at 7, I was asked if I could help proofread a few articles even though I wasn’t rostered. Since it was a job that needed to be done, I said nothing and thought nothing of it. In the past, I would have been grumpy doing the job, and would have criticised others for not organising things properly. I took an article that happened to have a lot of mistakes and took a lot of effort and time to correct. When I uploaded the checked article, I suddenly saw that it had already been checked by someone else and that it had already progressed onto the next stage. It seemed like all my effort had been in vain – but I didn’t think like that. I understood that unexpected things can happen, and the other proofreader would also have spent their best efforts doing it, and the result was good regardless. I was content that I had put in my best effort doing the proofreading. Next time, I would just check carefully in the beginning to avoid doubling up. It was unnecessary to get bothered about the time lost or that my efforts had not been put to use.
My efforts in removing my critical mentality have made some progress, though I am aware I still have many attachments to remove, and that this critical mentality is not completely gone, but at least this time, I was able to stop it from arising.
Thank you Master, thank you fellow practitioners.