We all know that we complain and my last article, The Pathology of Complaining helped us to understand that complaining is much more than words. It is fully functional and harmful disease of negativity that hurts us both inside and out, both mentally and physically. So how can YOU stop it? Once you have an idea what a complaint truly is you can then find ways to change those statements.
How to Complain Less, By Joshua Becker: Complaining feeds and breeds a negative response. https://www.becomingminimalist.com/complain-less/
- It fosters a negative attitude. Complaining draws our attention to the negative aspects and circumstance around us. And focusing on the negatives always brings about greater negativity. Complaining never results in joy—it only sinks us deeper into our misery.
- It negatively impacts those around us. Complaints spread negativity. By focusing on and drawing attention to the problems and discomforts around us, we direct other people towards it too. Misery loves company.
- It doesn’t change our circumstance. Taking action does. But complaining words by themselves do not.
- It disqualifies the value of discomfort in our lives. Discomfort—both physical and emotional—can have profound benefit for our lives. There are countless life lessons that can only be learned by embracing discomfort: patience and perseverance just to mention a few. Become OK with discomfort. You’ll be glad you did.
- It is highly unattractive. It is unenjoyable to spend time around people who constantly highlight the negatives. And not only unattractive, the self-centered emphasis of complaining can be annoying as well.
- It leaves us in victim-mode. One of the greatest obstacles to lasting change is blame. And complaining finds its foundation almost entirely in blame.
There are definitely lots of tips from people out there working hard to make this important change for themselves and to help others as well. There are many different ways to change your habit of complaining. I put together the ones I felt would be most useful and added some of my own. Using a notebook or pad of paper can help you to work through this more effectively. Change is so much easier when you research the problem and understand the plan.
“Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.” ~ Chinese Proverb
Shantideva counsels, “If something can be changed, work to change it. If it cannot, why worry, be upset, or complain?”
What to do instead of complaining and stop this harmful habit:
1. START BY DEFINING WHAT A COMPLAINT IS
- a statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable.
- to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.
- the Greek word translated “complainer” means literally “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” It is akin to the word grumbler.
- a statement of dislike, blame, or judgment that we whine about repeatedly
- an observation with negative feelings attached to it; ex – “It’s cold outside and I hate living in this place.”
- a negative effect on your physical function; ex – “I feel myself slouching and not breathing when I complain.”
- complaining is certainly not a fruit of the Spirit and, in fact, is detrimental to the peace, joy, and patience that come from the Spirit.
- complaining is destructive and debilitating personally and only serves to make our witness to the world more difficult.
- a complaining spirit leads to fighting and quarreling because complaints come from unfulfilled desires, which lead to envy and strife.
Write down your definition of complaining and below it write how you feel after complaining. Do you feel better after complaining? Or worse?
2. DEVELOP AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHY YOU COMPLAIN
- In essence, we complain about whatever meets with our disapproval.
- you’re looking for something, even though you’re not be aware of what it is at the time.
- Sometimes we simply want someone to recognize our suffering
- a common complaint can bond two people who may have nothing in common, but too much complaining would just break down the relationship.
- we may repeatedly complain about our health out of self-pity or the wish to gain others’ sympathy
- We may complain in the hopes that someone will fix our problem, instead of asking someone directly for help
- We complain to vent our emotions and our feelings of powerlessness
- “Venting” is often used to justify ranting about whatever we want, not for actually releasing anything
- because we’re too lazy or frightened to try to solve the problem ourselves.
Write down some reasons why you feel you complain. What is it that you’re gaining from complaining? What are you missing in life that you replace with complaining?
3. TRACK HOW OFTEN YOU COMPLAIN AND WHAT ABOUT
- Change starts with awareness. Once you become aware of your habits you can then take steps to change them.
- Tracking your complaints throughout a day or even a week can help you gain insight on how often and why you are doing it.
- Once you’ve developed an understanding of your habits you can now take the next steps of finding ways to stop the negativity and improve productivity.
Take your notebook with you everywhere for a day, a week would be better though, and tally your negative thoughts and, if you can, make notes of what the theme of your thoughts was about and what you think triggered it. Later, when you have more time, you can go back and review the negative thoughts and their causes to help you with the next steps.
4. SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM CHRONIC COMPLAINERS
- No matter what there will be someone who wants you to listen to their complaints whether they are relevant to you or not.
- Don’t forget that their complaints can hurt you almost as much as your own, especially if you allow it to continue or you join in.
- If you must lend an ear, try to respond with something positive rather than joining in on the rant session.
- You find over a period of time those people who complain constantly start to leave you alone because their brains are not getting that stimulus they’re looking for.
- One is reflective listening. Taking someone’s suffering seriously, we listen with a compassionate heart. We reflect back to the person the content or the feeling he or she expresses.
- Another technique is to change the subject. In the middle of a complaint tale, you can interject and refer to something else that was said and lead the discussion in another direction.
- Joking with the person may also help. We could respond to her melodrama by pretending to rescue her in a playful way that makes her laugh.
- Sometimes we sense that others complain simply to hear themselves talk, that they don’t really want to resolve their difficulties.
- If that doesn’t work you must get courageous enough to say something or the complainer will continue to sap you of your energy for their own personal fulfillment.
- If, after speaking your mind, the person continues to complain to you, you must then turn your back on them and push them away or YOU will continue to suffer. (I know it’s harsh but your sanity requires it!)
Writing a pros and cons list can help you become more comfortable with this. The pros and cons of keeping this person in your life can help you to see if it is really worth it to you to make such a big step.
5. TURN COMPLAINTS INTO SOLUTIONS
- This is called “positive complaining” or “effective complaining”.
- Don’t waste time talking about the problem, do something to change it.
- Get proactive to do something about the things that make you express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.
- Take steps to change the situation that is unsatisfactory or unacceptable.
- Or simply take steps to understand that the world is not always going to be as you expect it to be. DEAL WITH IT!
Take time to write down some ways you can make changes in your life to help you feel more satisfied and fulfilled, instead of expecting others to do it for you.
6. USE THE “BUT-POSITIVE” TECHNIQUE
- If you find yourself griping, add a ‘but’ and say something positive.
- This changes the negative complaint into a positive statement and improves the outcome.
Write some ways that you can put a positive spin on your common complaints, so when they come up again you are prepared to change them for the better.
7. CHANGE “HAVE TO” TO “GET TO”
- “I have to pick up the kids” becomes “I get to pick up the kids.”
- You change a complaining voice to an appreciative heartfelt statement
- complaints will melt away and won’t be something you use for a security blanket.
Write down some ways you can appreciate what you ‘get to’ do so that the ‘have to’s’ no longer feel like obligations. Help yourself appreciate the life you have created, or you will never be able to experience happiness.
8. COMPLAIN WITH A PLAN, NOT OUT OF HABIT
- Complaining is often associated with dwelling and inaction, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
- Before you complain, it might help to state that purpose and consider your audience.
- complaining to parents or friends about work stuff, for example, provides opportunities for them to tell me their own similar stories, which made me feel better, and allowed them to offer their advice for managing it, which was useful.
- It also helps to remember that complaining is an action and a habit, not a personality trait. You might be used to complaining, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it.
Write down some ways you can complain constructively and help yourself take action to make change.
HOW TO COMPLAIN LESS By Joshua Becker
- Consider the importance of adopting the change. Many of us complain only because we have never considered the alternative. We never considered there may be a better way.
- Embrace the recognition of an imperfect world. There will be trouble, trial, and pain. And the sooner we stop holding out for a world that revolves around us, the sooner we can embrace the fact that our contribution is far more needed than our pleasure.
- Understand the difference between helpful criticism and complaint. There are times when it is entirely appropriate to raise attention to a wrong being committed. This can be helpful and should never be discouraged.
- Be mindful of your audience. Are you speaking to someone who can help solve the problem or has a vested interest in bringing about a resolution? If so, use problem-solving language. If not, tread lightly. If you must continue, preface your complaint with impact-reducing language.
- Avoid beginning conversations with a complaint. Take notice of how often we initiate conversations with a complaint. Remove it from your arsenal. And try spreading some cheer with your opening line instead.
- Refuse to complain for the sake of validation. Sometimes our complaints are used to validate our worth to others. Don’t seek to impress others with your complaints. That strategy won’t gain you any friends in the long run anyway.
- Notice your triggers. Is there a specific time period of the day you tend to complain more than others? Morning, evening, or late afternoon? Take notice. Then, avoid triggers if possible. If they cannot be avoided, make a point to be extra vigilant when you see them arise.
- Embrace the idea of experimentation. Setting a goal of “never, ever complaining again” may be counter-productive. Instead, try designating a short period of time where you can be particularly mindful. This shorter time period will allow you to concentrate more fully on your goal.
- Mindless complaining serves little purpose in our lives. It fosters displeasure, spreads negativity, and sparks conflict. We’d live happier without it. Moving forward, let’s recognize and embrace the positive instead.
10 Ways to Complain Less (and Be Happier) By Lauren Stewart
- Change the way you think. This is definitely easier said than done. Our brains tend to gravitate toward the negative. This requires a new practice of being mindful. When you find yourself thinking or saying a negative comment about something or someone, stop and force yourself to say something positive instead. Enlist the help of a cheerful friend to stop you when you complain and help you to see the positive in the situation.
- Allow yourself to vent every once in a while. Constantly ignoring your negative thoughts could add up. If you are really going through a rough time, don’t be afraid to share your feelings with a close friend or family member or see a therapist. Don’t feel ashamed if you need to talk through negative feelings.
- Practice yoga. Yoga is a great way to exercise, relax, and learn to be mindful. Yoga focuses on breathing, movement, and meditation and helps you to control your mind and body. Our minds often race in a million directions. Yoga can help you calm your racing thoughts and be more positive with your intentions.
- Train yourself to be less judgmental. We often complain about others because we think they are not up to our standards. Once you stop judging people without knowing their stories, you will most likely complain less about the things people do. For example, constantly complaining about the service in a restaurant is not helpful. You don’t know what kind of a day your waiter or waitress has had or what problems are going on behind the scenes. If you put yourself in their shoes for a minute, you may be more kind and relax about the situation.
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Stopping for a minute and thinking of all the great things and amazing people in your life will probably put any silly complaints you had to rest.
- Be the change you wish to see in the world. Next time you’re with your friends, family, or co-workers and engaged in a complaint fest, speak up or quiet down. Depending on the crowd, either speak up to stop the complaining and change the subject to something sunnier or simply be quiet and don’t complain yourself.
- Accept responsibility. If something is bothering you, either fix it or accept that nothing can be done right now, so why complain? Complaining is a passive activity. Change that complaining into action to solve the problem or simple accept it and give your mind something else to focus on.
- Find what makes you happy. Sometimes this list can be easy, full of hobbies you enjoy. Sometimes it requires deeper introspection. Are you constantly complaining about your job? Maybe it is time to make the hard decision to move on to another job or career. Uncover what your biggest complaints are about and see if you can change the situation to make you happy.
- Take care of yourself. Stress and a busy lifestyle can often take over our lives and break down anyone’s positive spirit. Take time out from your life for just you. Make sure you get to see that movie you were dying to watch, take a hot bath, head to your exercise class, get a manicure, play sports, or do whatever relaxes and energizes you. It could just put you in a new frame of mind.
- Simply ask yourself when you open your mouth: Would you rather complain or be happy? Choose happiness, focusing on the positive, and being kind always! It is your choice and no one else’s.
So, you see you can be the change you need. You can live without complaining and be healthier and happier without it. Be your own cause and make that change. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Don’t want to miss another article? Sign up for Mother Gaia’s weekly newsletter here and never miss out again!