Irritated out of Complacency
Complacency... isn't that irresponsible laziness? Well, not entirely.
Tune in today and have a listen as Tina talks about complacency - what it is, what it isn't, how to tell if you or someone in your life is complacent, AND how to allow irritation to change it.
Tina also talks about the difference between being at peace and being complacent, while sharing the questions we can ask ourselves to know which is which.
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Ok, I’d be living in denial if I thought or tried to convince you that I’ve never been irritating. It’s a thing. It’s a real thing. I can be, have been, and will continue to be irritating. I’d like to add, “when necessary”, but that’s probably not accurate. It just happens. I can absolutely be irritating at times.
AND that’s your warning for this episode. I may irritate you in today’s episode. But here’s a little secret. I hope I do. That’s the goal. But not just for fun, by any means, on purpose. For anyone finding themselves in this spot that we are going to talk about today, of complacency, I hope I irritate you right out of it.
Now complacency, according to Cambridge Dictionary, is a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or the situation you are in, that prevents you from trying harder, or making any changes.
Now, a lot of people who are complacent, aren’t just what we would think of as lazy people, they are often people who don’t know who they are. They don’t know what they are made of. There may be an element of laziness. Just don’t FEEL like working harder or doing what it takes to make the changes that will improve a situation… but that’s still normally tangled in with not knowing what they are actually capable of. And many people are willing to look lazy, rather than have it found out that they aren’t able to do what they have tried to do.
Often, we go one of two ways when we see this in people. We snub our nose and get upset at them and label them as irresponsible and lazy, or we can sometimes go overboard on the encouragement and compliments, thinking that maybe that will motivate them into change.
Today, I want to talk about this place of complacency, and how we need to either feel irritated out of it OR allow others to be irritated out of it.
Not judge and shame and condemn… but also, not coddle or comfort or cradle someone in it either. Because remember, being complacent is about being content in the situation you are in. Comfort certainly will not change what has already become comfortable. But neither will harsh judgment, for those who have already settled with labels of laziness, to avoid possible labels of failure.
Listen, what I’m saying here is that are some irritants, shouldn’t be resolved. They shouldn’t be fixed by anything except the situation changing. That we shouldn’t be able to become satisfied until it is as it should be. Whether that be by working harder, trying more, or making some tough changes… sometimes we NEED to feel that irritated – that comforting or settling would be an injustice and just NOT an option.
Settling is too easy. We can see that just thinking back to younger years in science class. If we took a jar of water and added sand to it and shook it up, it would mix all together, wouldn’t it? But if we sat the jar down and left it alone, the sand would settle to the bottom. It took energy and effort to shake the glass and mix it all up. But it took nothing from us for it to settle.
Complacency is often about us settling, isn’t it. For less. Less than what we want. Less than what we need. Less than what we deserve. Either by our own lack of movement, or in the lack of someone around us. And not being irritated enough with what we not doing, or also by not being irritated enough by what someone in our life is not doing.
You know what I’m saying? Let’s expand that word complacency again. It’s a feeling of security or pleasure or satisfaction in a situation that lacks, has deficits, or even an element of danger involved. It’s being in a situation that has a problem but being content to be satisfied in it.
And being satisfied is not the problem. Being satisfied, in itself, is not a bad thing. What makes “being satisfied” a problem, is when we are satisfied with less.
Now what if you have been feeling at peace with your life, and now you’re wondering if that peace is really complacency, or actual peace. Here’s the distinction…
Peace comes when you have done all you can do, and you now trust the outcome to be what it will be. Complacency is about putting out less effort than is necessary to see real change, but still expecting to maintain the perks of the circumstance.
Let’s throw out some examples.
Peace is being mindful of what it takes to have a great relationship and putting in the effort to keep your relationship strong. Whatever happens, you’ve done all you can do to be a great partner, to the best of your abilities.
Complacency is knowing you both signed the marriage certificate, and assuming your marriage will last forever because of it, and therefore putting little to no effort into keeping it fun and exciting and healthy and strong.
Peace is knowing you were at work on time, got the report done, checked your emails, had lunch with a co-worker, signed up for the seminar at the end of the month, and saw your boss’s vacation photos before you left.
Complacency is knowing the report is almost done. And it’s probably good enough.
Complacency still wants the marriage. Still wants the job. It’s just banking on the very little effort, being enough.
There is no peace in that. But there very well could be satisfaction. And that’s dangerous. Yes, it’s dangerous to your relationship and your job, but it’s also and more importantly dangerous to you.
And that’s why we have got to become irritated in these situations, so we are no longer satisfied in having less than we want, need, or deserve. And if you argue saying “but I’m actually ok with it. I don’t feel like I’m receiving less in my life by operating like this” … well, would your spouse or your company be able to say the same thing?
What if your partner or your employee was thinking they didn’t really need to give their best anymore, because they are “IN” now? Do you think you’d satisfied?
I did warn you that I might be irritating today. But it’s not to be mean. It’s to move you from this place of complacency. It’s to also move you from settling with those around you, in your life, who have become complacent.
You deserve more. From yourself and from others.
But more, requires effort.
Anything we acquire in life, requires effort to maintain. Complacency is wanting to keep everything we get without putting in the effort.
But it doesn’t matter what it is. If you got it and want to keep it, you need to put what it takes into keeping it.
If you get a house plant, you have to water it.
If you get a goldfish, you have to feed it, clean its bowl.
If you get a car, you have to out gas in it and get the oil changed.
If you get a house, you have to clean it and pay the utility bills and watch for cracks in your foundation.
It takes effort to maintain what you have acquired in your life. If you become complacent, it will not remain. You will end up with less.
If you become complacent in your relationship, you may lose them. You will certainly lose what it could have been.
If your partner becomes complacent with you, they may lose you. Or you’ll settle for less and it certainly won’t be what you could have had.
That’s why it’s important to let ourselves become irritated in these situations. That’s why we have to let others become irritated in these situations.
It’s again, not to be mean. It’s to say you deserve more. I deserve more. And if there is only comfort, nothing will change.
You know how a mama eagle gets her birds to leave the nest to start their life as majestic flying creatures? She starts pulling out the feathers that had been lining the bottom of the nest, making the nest cozy and comfy. She literally physically irritates them out of comfort and into who they were supposed to be.
That mama eagle pulling comfort though, that is also a part of who she is supposed to be. It’s her responsibility to irritate them out of the nest.
Have you ever hounded and bothered and annoyed your children until they finally got up and did what they were supposed to do? What you asked them to do. Ask them if that was irritating.
Ever asked your partner over and over and over again to please do that thing you asked them to do that they just haven’t gotten to yet? Ask them if that was irritating.
Anyone drive you crazy reminding you time and time again to finish up something you were responsible for getting done? Irritating at all?
I’m sure it all was. To everyone involved. But that is what happens when someone says I’ll take on that responsibility. I’ll do it. I’ll be part of this family, company, organization, club etc.… knowing that comes with tasks and chores and helping out… and then they become complacent and put out less effort, but still want the perks of belonging.
And what’s harder yet, is often that the complacent people in our lives, want to be celebrated. They are satisfied with doing less, but they expect us to be satisfied, but also impressed somehow too.
You see it in attitude. Sometimes through announcement too.
I’m the man of this house. Show me some respect. Show me you helping pay these bills. Show me you know where we keep the vacuum. Show me that you know these kids need more than just their mama.
I’m their mother and I deserve to be recognized in that special role that it is. Then raise your kids. That’s more than food and water. They need affection and attention and discipline and experiences. Raise your kids.
I’ve been here at this company for 15 years. No one even acts like they notice me. Then give them something to notice. You show up late, get someone to cover your shift as often as you can, you put out the minimal amount of effort required to not get fired, and have constant conflict with your co-workers. What did you want? A parade to celebrate you?
Am I irritating again? I’m not trying to be rude. But you deserve more in life. You were made to soar and if someone has to pull the feathers out from under you, then let’s do it.
You have to stop expecting gold medals when you have barely put the effort into a participation ribbon.
If you’re still not sure if you’re being complacent in an area in life, ask yourself this question:
If I wasn’t here, what would they not have? What would they miss?
If you can’t think of a number of significant things… then what do you bring to the table?
If you’re not sure if someone in your life is being complacent, then ask the same questions of them.
If they were not here, what would I not have? What would I miss?
What did you come up? What are they bringing to the table?
Sometimes we have to ask these questions because complacency becomes so routine that it sneaks up and sneaks in with little notice.
So, ask the questions. What do you notice in the answers?
Sometimes we hear people speak positively in their complacency. It sounds good. We have to listen for it coming out of our own mouths, and the mouths of people in our lives. It sounds good.
They use words like “trust”. They trust their relationship; they trust the universe. They have a faith and trust their creator. All wonderful, great things. In themselves. Important things. Unless complacency is at the root. You have to watch for the actions backing up these words though.
You can hear things like “I trust my marriage. I trust we are strong and going to be together forever” Great. But trust doesn’t pay the bills. Trust doesn’t communicate. Trust doesn’t plan date nights and have cuddles and make sure that people feel loved, valued, and wanted. Those are actions.
I trust my relationship with my kids. I trust they know I love them, and they will be emotionally stable and healthy and know I’ll always be there for them” Great. But trust doesn’t help with homework. Trust doesn’t make supper, dry tears, talk about bullying or teach lessons”
Trust on its own is wonderful. But you still need to put in the effort to keep what you are trusting to keep. You still have to do what it takes to have what you are trusting to have.
I cannot trust that I will have a toned body. Trust will not watch what I eat or exercise on my behalf. I cannot trust myself into muscles. I have to lift weights.
But I also cannot lift weight until I see results and then trust that they will remain if I stop putting in the effort. I will not keep what I acquire without effort.
Complacency assumes that what used to be enough, will continue to be enough. It does not look to grow, expand, or learn.
But sometimes, irritation is all about growing, expanding, and learning.
If there is something irritating in your life today, could it maybe be the bottom of a nest? Is there a chance that it isn’t bad luck, tough luck, just one more hard thing to learn to live with?
What if this is your indicator that there is something more? That being satisfied with less has run its course?
What if it’s time to soar?
I hope you’ll forgive me if I irritated you today! But more than that, I hope you will decide that this is the last day that you’ll settle for less. Less from you and less for you.
Don’t settle. Grab the jar and shake it up. It’s time.
And until next time… this is Tina saying good-bye for now, and we’ll speak again soon.