Have you ever noticed how much time people spend complaining? If so, you may have noticed that the worst part about complaining is that it eats up a great deal of time and mental energy, leaves us feeling stressed out and doesn’t getting much changed about the situation. Complaining also has physical effect, leaving you feeling tense and uncomfortable and people who are chronic complainers often end up becoming very cynical and negative assuming nothing will ever change.
WHY IS COMPLAINING SO COMMON?
From the time we are small children, our parents have taught us the difference between right and wrong. Everyone knows the “good” and “bad” ways to act. When someone notices something they don’t like, often the first impulse is to make a judgment about whether it is “right” or “wrong.” This can lead to judging people as inappropriate or unacceptable, based on their actions we observe.
For most people, this judgment acts as a defense mechanism to keep ourselves and our feelings safe. If we can feel that our actions were “right,” then it’s far easier to assume the other person is “wrong.” We assume that if our actions are “right,” then others will not have any reason to judge us, therefore keeping us safe.
All these internal judgments inevitably turn into complaints, and we end up spending our time complaining to ourselves about the situation or the person involved. However, because complaining actually makes us feel bad—and, as human beings, what we want most is to feel good–we end up sharing our complaints with other people. Our hope is that if we talk to others about our complaint they will agree with us and we will feel better and find the happiness we are actually looking for.
DO YOU EVER COMPLAIN TO OTHER PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS?
There are two possibilities that can occur when we complain to other people. One possibility is that they may agree with us and join in with the complaining, which leads both parties to feel tense, agitated, and uncomfortable. The next possibility is that the other person disagrees with us, which can lead to additional conflict and more uncomfortable feelings. Regardless of which way the complaining leads, it rarely leads either person to feel better about the situation. Additionally, any time spent complaining is time that is not spent finding a way to make the situation better.
“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ~Maya Angelou
It is hard to remember the reality of a situation when we spend so much time complaining. The facts get clouded by our blaming, judging, and complaining, which makes us feel more stressed about any situation and less able to find a solution. When we continue to complain about something, we often forget why we even started to complain in the first place.
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” ~Mark Twain
WHY DO WE REALLY COMPLAIN?
One way to stop complaining is to really think about why you are complaining in the first place. Approaching every situation that you had a complaint about as an opportunity to start taking action to change things may help you relieve stress and find more peace and happiness at the same time.
How is this possible? Complaints can actually be the key to your happiness if you use them to unlock the deeper meanings about your judgment and irritation. Complaining is almost always a reflection of your true underlying values and what you want to see happening in this situation. When something you really want is not happening, it will lead to complaining. But, the complaint is merely a distraction from the true situation unless you use it to make a change.
“Now, 10 years later, the person who talked and complained is still talking and complaining and still remains in the same position. The person who took the initiative and found solutions has been promoted several times.” ~Catherine Pulsifer
Here’s the stress relief you’re looking for…
1) If you are looking to find solutions begin by downloading a free Values worksheet to help you identify what is most important to you.
2) After completing the Core Values Worksheet, think about what came up as important topics, and what is missing from the situation that is currently a problem. Identify these using value words.
3) When you catch yourself complaining about a situation, ask yourself:
- “What would be different if I did not judge this situation as right or wrong?”
- “What is very important to me that is missing in this situation?”
- “What can I do to experience what is missing for me?” “What can I change here?”
As an example, you might find that you were hoping for more connection in relationships or more self-discipline to complete tasks and projects. If you find yourself complaining about being too busy, perhaps what’s missing is balance or relaxation. If you find yourself complaining about your partner nagging at you all the time, then maybe what’s missing is understanding or better communication.
4) Take some time to reflect and ask yourself, “If I could change the situation to include things that are important to me, would I be complaining about the present situation?”
5) Lastly, consider, “How can I act to make a change in this situation to make it include what I want most?”
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Victor Frankl
Bonus Key) LIVE IN HARMONY WITH WHAT YOU VALUE
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