If you complain each time you open your mouth there must be something not working in your life. You’re annoyed and frustrated about it and boy – are you letting people know.
If you don’t complain, I bet you know someone who does. A complainer makes people feel uncomfortable. They probably try to avoid that person thinking, “Oh no! There’s Tracey (or whoever). She’s always moaning about something. I’ll go this way to avoid her.”
I used to have a friend who always found something to whinge about. His health, the kids, the grandkids, the economy, his wife, the neighbours. You name it, he complained about it. Each time I was with him I felt drained afterwards.
It didn’t matter what I said, nothing would shake him out of his constant negative attitude. We eventually grew apart because I couldn’t take it anymore.
Why Do You Complain?
The first time you complain, someone listens. You like it when someone listens to you so you complain again. Someone listens to you again. You’ve found a way to get people to listen to you so you continue to complain. You’re not fussy what you complain about. The important thing to you is that someone listens.
Complaining stems from your negative thoughts. For example, Saturday afternoon at the local supermarket with checkout queues going on for a million light years.
You take your place in the queue. After 10 seconds, you tap your foot. 20 seconds later you’re tutting, shaking your head and rolling your eyes at anyone who glances in your direction. Then you start huffing and “hmph-ing”.
The minute you sense someone behind you, round you turn and off you go, “It’s a shame they’re so short-staffed”, “They could do with more tills open”, “I’ve got frozen food. I hope I get served before it defrosts” barely taking a breath and not letting the other person get a word in.
Sound familiar? We all do it but some of us break out of the complaining cycle.
Break the Habit
Complaining is a bad habit. Like all bad habits it can be broken.
1. Let go of negative thoughts.
Thoughts pop into our heads then pop out all the time. Sometimes they’re negative thoughts which can linger, especially if you’re feeling negative.
So there’s you feeling negative and this negative thought pops into your head. Do you let it pop out again? Do you, heck!
You let it hang around and get comfy. You think about it and add bits to it and it’s not long before you’ve got a whole negative story attached to this negative thought.
What’s the negative story made up of? You got it – complaints. “If he hadn’t….”, “She shouldn’t have said….”, “I wish I’d smacked him when I had the chance…” and so on.
Action: When you get a negative thought, let it go.
2. Avoid complainers.
Complaining can turn into a group activity. You’re sat having a quiet coffee then someone comes and sits with you and starts complaining about the tea. You join in and complain about the coffee.
Then someone else joins you and complains about the coffee they had the other day. Before you know it, there’s a whole group of you having a mass moan.
All you wanted was a quiet coffee.
Action: When someone comes to sit with you, tell them you need some time on your own.
This is a good one….
3. Resist complaining for a day.
I did this last year after reading “A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen. Man – it was challenging!
When my friend moaned about something that had happened at work, I had to consciously stop myself from joining in. I made the effort to find positive things in her work day to get her out of “moaning mode”.
Not complaining for one day encouraged me to resist it the next day and the next and the next. I didn’t complain about anything until 5 days later. From there, I didn’t complain for a week. A whole week without a whinge! Proud of myself or what!
Action: Do it.
4. Say something positive instead of complaining.
This takes a bit of practice. One of my friends knew his attitude stunk and decided to change it.
Made sure he was alone in the house, watched a political discussion programme on TV (always guaranteed to have him shouting abuse at any politician!) and worked on just shouting positive statements at the TV.
I know. I thought the same thing but at least he tried. Good on him for trying.
From there, he watched “soaps” because, next to political discussions, they were the next things to wind him up. Again he made positive comments. He admitted feeling a total idiot for saying things like “That colour eyeshadow suits her”.
His attitude changed a little at a time. I can’t say that he went from being a miserable git to bright and sunny “Oh, it’s such a beautiful day even though every house is flooded and Air-Sea Rescue are getting everybody out of here.”
He freely admits he’s “work in progress” but he’s doing the work because no one else can do it for him.
Action: Bite back the complaint, pause, then say something positive.
5. Stop complaining – take back control.
If you were controlling the situation you’re complaining about, there would be nothing to complain about because you’d be doing it.
If you’re complaining about something you can control, do something to change it. The late Maya Angelou said in “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now”:
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Action: What are you going to take back control of?
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