Life is tough. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of cynicism, doom, gloom, and complaining.
There always seems to be some problem or another being blasted across the news or creeping up into your personal life.
So what’s not to complain about? Why shouldn’t you complain about how bad things are?
The reason is that complaining usually doesn’t accomplish anything. A complaint can be a useful tool when it’s framed as “this is a problem and we need to fix it,” but people don’t often complain that way.
For a complaint to be useful and productive, it needs to address an issue and help push people toward the solution. In a wider context that is valuable.
In a personal context it’s not, because usually you are the only one that can really control your situation. You can’t control the actions of others. You can only try to influence them or encourage them to do a thing.
And yet negativity, in the form of complaining, is usually rewarded with people digging their heels in and refusing to move, because no one likes to be attacked.
Complaining also has the unintended consequence of empowering people that enjoy conflict for the sake of conflict. Some people don’t want to be better or make things better. They’re comfortable wallowing in their own misery because it’s a safe place that they understand.
Furthermore, the act of complaining often fosters a negative attitude that other people simply don’t want to put up with. People don’t want to hang out with bitter, angry people who do nothing but complain. It often rubs off on the people around us and leaves everyone in a worse mood.
Far easier to just cut that friend (i.e. you) off and not deal with them anymore rather than try to change their perception or opinion.
Complaining also shifts responsibility and encourages us to perceive ourselves as a victim, instead of an independent person who can make their own choices.
Yes, you may be treated badly by another person. That’s fair and valid. But if they keep doing it, refuse to change, or refuse to acknowledge there’s any kind of problem, what good does it do to complain? All you can do at that point is take responsibility for your own happiness and change your situation.
Chronic complaining also diminishes the power and importance of a real complaint. If the person constantly complains about pointless things, why would anyone assume that a genuine complaint they have is valid? Most people would just write it off as more pointless complaining or assume the complainer is just being dramatic.
As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to cut down on complaining. But how do you do that?
1. Consider your audience.
Who is actually going to listen to the complaint? Is it a person who has an interest in seeing the problem resolved? Is it someone that can help resolve the complaint? If it’s neither of these, then it’s probably not worth complaining about.
However, maybe you’re complaining to try to find a solution to a problem you’re experiencing. In that case, it’s better to not complain, but to instead ask if you can run a situation past the person to get their perspective on it.
Frame it as, “I’m having a problem that I can’t figure out. Can I get your thoughts?” By doing that, you’re not complaining, but problem-solving.
2. Consider the alternatives.
Some complaints are because we, as human beings, are not all that comfortable with change. Sometimes we complain because we don’t like the idea of something we’re familiar with changing.
It’s worthwhile to consider what you’re complaining about and what the alternatives are. If you haven’t considered the alternatives, you may find that a different way of doing things ends up being better.
It might save time, money, effort, or make a lasting change that benefits a greater whole. Change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily good, but it may not be bad either.
3. Embrace discomfort.
Discomfort is a valuable thing. It helps spur us to improve, work on ourselves, or better our lot in life.
We can complain about our discomfort or we can embrace it as something that is solely ours to work on and work through.
The great news is that working through discomfort helps to build us up, make us more tenacious, make us stronger than we were before the discomfort we experienced.
That does not mean you should accept other peoples’ bad behavior or disrespect. Life will throw enough challenges at you that you don’t need to tolerate disrespect.
4. Don’t start conversations with a complaint.
Think back to the conversations you’ve had in the past two weeks. How many of those conversations began with a complaint of some kind?
“Man, work was so bad.”
“This weather is killing me!”
“Why didn’t this get done?”
It’s so easy to do because we’re always under such a large amount of stress to get things done. When you have a lot of things to do, even the smallest disruptions can be jarring enough to feed a complaint.
Try not to let yourself get sucked into that cycle when you can avoid it. A simple, “Hey, how is it going?” can be a much better way to get a conversation going.
5. Learn the art of constructive criticism.
Many people confuse constructive criticism with complaining. Sometimes it’s because they genuinely can’t see the difference. Other times it’s because they don’t want to acknowledge the problem or they’re trying to avoid responsibility.
The difference between constructive criticism and a complaint is the end goal.
Constructive criticism is something we give to help a person improve. You may point out the flaws or poorly structured sentences in a person’s writing so they can learn from those mistakes.
However, if you just say “Well, this sucks” then you’re not actually providing any criticism at all. All you’re doing is complaining which isn’t helpful or kind.
6. Assert yourself when needed.
Complaining is often a passive-aggressive way to express one’s needs without directly asking. This type of behavior is not likely to get you what you need or want.
A more direct approach is clear communication that actually addresses the problem instead of dropping hints.
Hints masked as complaints look like: “I wish you would do this…” “I wish you’d stop doing this…” “Why do you always do that…?”
There’s a good chance that the person you’re talking to may not interpret your complaint as something that really bothers you.
A direct statement is better than an indirect complaint. A direct statement looks like: “Can you please not do this?”
7. Examine why you are complaining.
There is usually a reason why a person excessively complains.
For a lot of people, that reason is depression. Depression colors everything in a negative to neutral light. It’s hard to see the positive things in the world when your brain is telling you that everything is bad.
Consider the last time you felt positive or happy. When was it? How long ago was it? If it was a while ago, it might be worth talking to a certified mental health counselor about what’s going on in your life.
That complaining may just be a symptom of a greater problem that needs to be addressed so you can find your peace of mind and happiness.
You may also like:
- How To Stop Being Bitter: 10 Steps To Overcome Your Bitterness
- How To Stop Being So Cynical All The Time: 8 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- 30 Ways To Get Your Life Together Once And For All