Why Complain?


One thing that we truly have control over is the habit of complaining. I wish that I could tell you that I have mastered the art of avoiding complaining, but that would make me a liar (and lying is another habit that does not serve me). As I have said before, I am a recovering cynic, which means that I have occasional lapses in failing to appreciate the world around me.

I believe that a conversation about a problem that acknowledges a problem/challenge as the first step in addressing that problem is significantly different than complaining. Often when people complain, they tend to stay in the realm of problem admiration and they may even become resentful if you going in to “problem solving” mode

One odd thing about complaining is that people rarely complain about things they actually have control over. People will complain about the weather, the cost of gas and even the temperature of their latte not being up to their personal standard. When people complain, they tend to stay in the realm of problem admiration and they may even become resentful if you going in to “problem solving” mode. Complaining may reinforce depreciating unconscious beliefs such as “I am helpless to solve the world’s problems”, “things will never get better”, “life is unfair” or “I am a victim”.

An interesting social dynamic about complaining is that once one person complains, the other person joins in a chorus of complaining. What is even more interesting is that complaint based conversations can appear to become competitive.

Man 1 – “Man, I had a awful night last night. My neighbors had this loud party and I only got 4 hours of sleep”.

Man 2 – “You think that’s bad, my kid was sick last night and he woke up every hour throwing up”.

Man 3 – “You guys have it easy, I work the night shift and my house is under the flight path. I rarely get any sleep”.

In my more cynical past, I had a friend who I often engaged in complaint conversations. I found myself collecting things to complain about. I even remember thinking “I can’t wait to tell Bob (name changed to protect the guilty) about this horribly annoying and yet insignificant think that happened to me this morning”.

The most frustrating pattern of complaining is the act of complaining about things that you can do something about. In the example above, Man 3 could make the decision to find a different job, take a different shift, move to a new place, or invest in high quality sound cancelling headphones.

The good news is that we are in control of our own tendency to complain. We can evaluate our beliefs related to complaining and we can make a conscious effort to avoid complaining (see http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/ ). When can choose to look at all aspects of a situation and see the areas where we can be grateful.

Man 1 – “I am grateful that I got at least some sleep last night!” 

Man 2 – “I am grateful that even though my child is sick today, he will most likely be well by the weekend.”

Man 3 – “I am grateful that I still have the job in these challenging economic time.”

 

-Have a great day with no complaints (even though it is a Monday) and remember “It’s all good”!

 

 

 

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21 Responses to “Why Complain?”

  1. For a time I was one of those people who could always focused on the problem and not the solution and I agree, it’s contagious and very counterproductive! My husband and I will catch ourselves slipping in to this mode and then we’ll stop and ask the HALT question – Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired? This helps narrow down answering the question “Why am I acting and feeling like this?” We often will pull our gratitude list and that helps.

  2. You do bring out some good points on complaint vs gratitude. Is the glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty? It all depends on how you choose to see any given situation, I guess. Some people aren’t happy if they don’t have something to whine about. That, my Dear, is a fact of life.

  3. Part of our need to complain bigger than the other person is just the simple need to be like everyone else, we do it when we meet someone we mimic their actions and expressions to be more comfortable in a situation. I guess maybe we just have to learn to be ourself/ourselves as individuals and have a strong enough sense of self esteem that allows that. Then we can be who we truly are and maybe that will help us be more positive about things also and do less complaining.
    Complaint free world is awesome — I should restart the bracelet idea! Thanks for the thought!

  4. Wonderful post 🙂 I studied a little about emotional injection and why people do things like this, they wanted to feel power through complaining and have a sort of ‘i feel good and strong moment’ by complaining. I think the best part about complaining about something especially something we don’t like is that we should take that responsibility and do something about it rather than gossip, whine for weeks etc. I had to stand up to someone for the same reason recently. Complaining makes one less attractive and less approachable too; the hard truth. I always try to avoid complaining nowadays as my parents always had this mindset of complaining at the smallest of things.

  5. It is tempting to complain about your amazing blog to silly; but, how can I? It would be untrue. I enjoyed reading about grateful and not complaining, which I value! Positiveness rules!

  6. Awesome post about learning how to turn a negative into a positive! 🙂 You got a good giggle out of me with the line of complaints lol

    Having an Attitude of Gratitude is our best way to address any and all experiences that can lead to a complaint. Complaints do not solve problems or unpleasant experiences. They only take up time and mental space…pushing our thoughts away from solutions and pushing our thoughts away from things that we should appreciate constantly. Unpleasant moments is part of life’s “job description” and as long as we acknowledge that, we can stay in constant gratitude for the 3 things listed above and so much more.

    The gratitude line should definitely be so much longer than the complaints line…..they (we) have so much to be grateful for… to have the clothes on their backs, the shoes on their feet, the eyes that can see forward, the feet to help them stand, the voice to speak their words….

    I used to be one to whine excessively when the going gets real tough; **hard** lessons came from that. And the emotional stress…..Oi! I can’t go back to that!!!

    The benefits of thinking positive is immense! Benefits from complaints?…..0!

  7. I tweeted this with you in mind.

    “Most people would rather be certain they’re #miserable, than risk being happy.” – Robert Anthony/ Practice less complaints w/ more #gratitude

  8. Reblogged this on ~ Inspired Thought ~ Inspired Action ~ and commented:
    Awesome post about learning how to turn a negative into a positive! This blog got a good giggle out of me with the image that it has 🙂 This person has re-enforced the thought that having an Attitude of Gratitude is our best way to address any and all experiences that can lead to a complaint. Complaints do not solve problems or unpleasant experiences. They only take up time and mental space…pushing our thoughts away from solutions and pushing our thoughts away from things that we should appreciate constantly. Unpleasant moments is part of life’s “job description” and as long as we acknowledge that, we can stay in constant gratitude for the 3 things listed above and so much more. Learn how you can turn a negative moments into a positive moments with examples you’ll find when you click on the link above. Enjoy 🙂

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