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flow, your body releases its stored-up tensions, and your linguistic intelligence has the fun of translating everything you feel into choice words and phrases.”

McLaren recommends that we set up a shrine to our complaints, making our complaining into a kind of devotional act to foster health and well-being, just as we set up personal altars or shrines in a corner of a room at home at which we meditate or pray or undertake other practices to restore or nurture inner balance and harmony. She recommends that we find a private place where we can really let go. “Give voice to your dejected, hopeless, sarcastic, nasty, bratty self,” she counsels. “Bring dark humor out of the shadows and really whine and swear about the frustrations, stupidities, impossibilities, and absurdities of your situation. Complain for as long as you’d like. . ., and when you run out of things to say, thank whatever you’ve been yelling and whining at. Thank the furniture, the walls, the ground, the trees, your complaining shrine, or your God for listening, and end your conscious complaining session by bowing, shaking off and then doing something really fun. That’s it.”

In her counseling practice, McLaren has found that “people who try this practice are astonished to find that complaining doesn’t pull them further into the doldrums. Actually, it has precisely the opposite effect because it breaks through stagnation and repression and lets you tell it like it is—without repercussions. You restore your flow again, the truth is told again, the decks are cleared, and you get an important time-out. . . . Afterward, you’ll find that you can revisit your struggles with renewed vigor and vision.” She goes on to conclude that “it sounds contradictory, but you just can’t be happy unless you complain.”

I think McLaren is on to something. If we all got a load off our chests in the sacred space of a complaining shrine, we might not so readily unload on others. And we might be more compassionate when others unload on us. By providing a healthy release for our “negative” emotions, we can both diffuse their hold on us and more clearly see how they serve us. As a consequence of owning our bratty, nasty, whiny, selfish and complaining selves, we can more fully

Complain for as long as you’d like. . ., and when you run out of things to say, thank whatever you’ve been yelling and whining at

live our humorous, joyful, childlike, sensitive and nurturing selves. All parts of us are acknowledged and expressed in healthy ways.

A great deal of McLaren’s book is devoted to explaining the positive messages encoded in seemingly negative emotions. As examples, she says that anger is the body-mind’s way of alerting us to when someone is violating our boundaries. If we listen to that message and learn to channel the anger within ourselves instead out onto others, we can become more conscious of the dynamics of both our inner and outer situations and deal with them in a proactive, instead of a subconsciously reactive, way. Feelings of shame, in contrast, arise most often when we violate our own internal boundaries. If we aren’t aware of what that feeling is telling us, we project out and think others are shaming us, when in reality something we just did or said has violated our own unspoken or not fully conscious internal code of conduct. Fear, she says, is a kind of intuition, helping us to stop and take stock, and then heightening all of our senses, making us super-aware. Sadness can be an internal barometer for gauging when we need to slow down, relax and release.

Many healers and healthcare professionals think that unexpressed emotion is at the root of illness and disease. It is not the only factor, of course, but it is one that is often overlooked by diagnosticians. Maybe one day, when “negative” thoughts and emotions are recognised for what they are—healthy parts of ourselves that are denied healthy expression—we’ll see a whole new kind of treatment: patients will be given prescriptions for a private whining session once a day for ten days. And in a perfect world, doctors will take their own advice!

Quantum Health 35


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