We live in a society of entitlement and complaint. We were raised to believe the customer is always right, and our complaints deserve to be heard. We have been told that it is our right to complain. While it is important to express ourselves, we must do so in a healthy way.
Most complaining is unhealthy, and leads to pessimism and frustration. We complain for all the wrong reasons and few of the right ones.
Complaining to break the ice.
Often we use complaining to relate to others, especially strangers and casual acquaintances. Think about how often you hear, “Don’t you just hate Mondays?”, or “Stuck in traffic again this morning- ugh!”
Relating to others over a shared negative experience creates an instant connection, but the problem is it sets a precedence for a relationship built on shared suffering.
Instead you can share a positive mutual experience and begin to build a relationship built on support and friendship. You can start by smiling. Share the best part of your day!
Complaining to get attention.
People react more powerfully to negative statements over a positive ones. When we read the headline, “The 5 Most Annoying Co-Workers”, we are immediately provoked to read the article even though these types of articles rarely offer useful information.
Complaining may get you attention, but it gets you the wrong kind of attention. If you complain too often, people start to associate you with everything’s that’s going wrong.
A lasting and more satisfying experience comes from doing great work everyday and being recognized for your accomplishments and positive contribution. You’ll feel better about yourself, and soon enough you’ll receive plenty of positive attention.
Complaining to justify your judgments.
When we make a judgment about others it can be satisfying to justify our belief by getting others to agree with us. Who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being right?
The problem with judgment is often we are placing negative value on a neutral situation. This is a slippery slope that leads to decreased satisfaction with life, and projecting negativity in even more neutral situations.
We may also be lacking key pieces of information about people we judge. Our judgments can be one-sided or influenced by our past experiences. When we complain to justify judgments, we commit ourselves to those judgments and close ourselves off from others.
I’ve heard it said that I have the choice to be happy, or be right. Given the choice I’d rather be happy.
When you find yourself judging others, take a step back and remember you may not have all the facts, or you may be reacting to a past negative experience. Instead, practice letting judgment go.
Even if your judgments are correct, holding on to them doesn’t enrich or improve your life. You end up hurting yourself as much as you hurt others.
Complaining to relieve stress.
When we don’t have an appropriate, healthy outlet for stress it may be expressed in the form of complaining. While expressing stress can relieve it’s symptoms, focusing on the negative is likely to create more stress in the long run.
Find positive ways to relieve your stress such as exercise, laughter or deep breathing. Engaging your body in activity can relieve stress and improve your health, concentration and focus.
If you truly need to voice a complaint, say it only once and let it go.
Complaining to create change.
Sometimes we complain because we want to create change, but change doesn’t come so easily. Complaining may result in temporary change, but soon enough people fall back into old patterns and habits.
You cannot force change in others, instead you can choose to improve yourself and your life experience. Usually when you focus on bettering yourself, the people around you are inspired to better themselves, too.
If other people do not choose to follow your good example, you’ll find it doesn’t bother you as much when you’re minding your own attitudes and behaviors.
Complaining can be positive and healthy when expressing a valid concern in a respectful and appropriate manner.
If you have a complaint with someone, talk directly to that person. Be open to their perspective and brainstorm solutions. Look to mend the relationship or make progress on a problem.
Consider your motivation for complaining. Are you focused on problems or solutions? Complaining can be healthy if your goal is to seek solutions to a shared problem.
When voicing a complaint is necessary, be willing to let your complaint go after you have expressed it, whether or not you achieve the results you want.
I love your comments! How often do you complain, and how do you feel when you do? Do you find complaining to be productive or draining?
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