I used to wish, and sometimes do, everybody would just stop complaining. Needless to say, I grew tired of hearing people complain. It might sound obvious—yes, I’m surrounded by people who’d rather complain. Not always, though, not every day. Every two days? Sure.
I realized, however, that perhaps I was only being selfish. For one thing, I myself try to avoid complaining—I really do. Sometime in the past, I heard about how nice the environment would be if I simply choose not to complain. For another, I really didn’t bother to understand why people just wouldn’t stop complaining; such complaining became a challenge for me almost every time.
Yes, I might sound like I’m complaining about complaining already. But the truth is you might, too. I learned that there are things I should consider. These considerations could help us understand why people won’t simply stop complaining.
Why We Complain
Let’s start with the most basic reason we complain—life isn’t a fairy tale. And thus, complaining has always been associated with the negative. We wouldn’t complain if there were no underlying frustrations, disappointments or any other forms of unhappiness, which we simply have to bear. It’s reaction. We can react to such stimuli in many other different ways, but complaining would be one among the easiest. No-brainer.
We might easily overlook other reasons we complain. Sometimes we inadvertently complain to manipulate how others would perceive us. I’d say this could be evident with managers or superiors who want to enhance the impression they want to project for others. Instead of telling a subordinate how to improve a finished work, these superiors won’t stop complaining how poorly the work has been done, yielding the impression that these superiors have high standards. It could become a defense mechanism.
Another common reason is simply emotional release. Some people may not be so lucky to have experienced some sort of trauma. The mind could be the most powerful thing we possess, but we can’t deny the influence of our past. And because of this mental state some people seem to have acquired over the years, they can’t simply stop complaining. Being able to express ourselves could be helpful. It’s human nature, too.
The Need to Complain
I used to dismiss the idea that there might actually be a good reason to complain. And it turns out there are indeed quite a few.
Keeping your mouth shut and not expressing your feelings, especially unpleasant feelings, may leave you dealing with your struggles alone, or in other words, without anybody else you can share those struggles with. When you keep doing this over a long time, you put yourself at risk with mental and even physical health problems.
Complaining could also take you a long way if you want to achieve certain results, which may include those that you want only for yourself, or those that could benefit a group. If you have a high self-esteem, you could be in a better position to just complain. Always watch out whether you’re already crossing the line, with arrogance. But if you’d complain the right way, venting could actually be good.
Moreover, complaining could create rapport, which may lead to motivation. This might already be happening more than you know.
Imagine you’re in your workplace, where you spend majority of your time. As a result, majority of the problems you encounter could also happen there. Among the many bumps in the road, you share one or a couple of problems with someone else. Imagine them having exactly the same sentiments about those particular issues. Tendency’s you’re going to talk about it, and most probably sympathize with each other. This could set a common ground for both of you, and you could later find yourselves motivating each other.
I thought this was contradictory, but as I looked back into my previous years of interacting with different people, I realized this is spot on. If you don’t stop complaining, you could actually find a friend.
As I discussed above, you could actually complain in a positive way. Although complaining usually brings bad news, you can always find, or create, a positive thing among the sea of negativity. Which brings me to my first point.
Complaining simply causes you to relive things or events you complain about—which are most probably unpleasant. You let yourself get stressed and burn out when you won’t stop complaining.
Imagine being in an unpleasant environment, say, living with a toxic family. This could already be eating your soul away. But it just also happens you have plenty of friends, to whom you could tell almost anything under the sun. You’ll be left with two choices: to complain about your toxic family or not. What if you get to meet only one or two of your friends at any given time? Will you be delivering the same complaint speech every time? I say heck no! Why stress and burn yourself out? You’d be better off simply enjoying the gift of spending time with your friends and trying something new, rather than complaining.
Did you know that even listening to someone complaining is bad for your brain? Research shows that exposing yourself to 30 minutes of negativity could destroy neurons in your brain’s hippocampus, which is responsible for your problem-solving capabilities. Now, that’s only the effect for the passive listener. How much damage could you actually inflict if you yourself won’t stop complaining? Piece of cake, isn’t it?
Complaining could be contagious, too. If you keep thinking only about everything negative, you’ll turn into a negative person. You are what you think. If you don’t stop complaining, people around you will notice it, and if they can’t inspire you to be more positive, you might rather inspire them to become chronic complainers, too.
When everybody in the group becomes complainers, other negative behaviors will most probably follow. If you’re depressed and you constantly complain about it, don’t be surprised if someone else gets depressed, too. If you’re angry all the time, you might promote violence instead of diplomacy. If you simply complain about almost everything, you could have a problem dealing with everybody else.
The Only Time to Complain
Complaining could be healthy. I’m grateful to have discovered it; however, I still believe I should just stop complaining as much as I can. Turning complaints into positive energies could work well for me, but these complaints still root in negative circumstances—complaints will always be complaints. I always try to look for the positive side of life. Adversities teach us valuable lessons, but moving on would also mean letting go of what could hold us captive of pain, sadness and other kinds of negativity.
Complaining could mean trouble, that’s why I arrived at only one conclusion: Complain only if it could push a solution to a problem.
And everything will follow. You could craft your words so that your complaining won’t violate others, or you could simply complain as you normally would. (You’re only human.) But the value you bring when you complain, however you say it, will be priceless. Others might notice you could be a serious complainer, but whenever you complain, they’ll know you’re on something actually good—you’re not simply complaining unreasonably, and toxically.
Get yourself into the habit of stopping first before saying something that’d only seem to be plain emotional outburst. Tap into your persuasion power if you want. Practice your communication skills. Be nice and friendly, regardless of the situation.
Just remember the guiding principle—if your complaining could help solve a problem, then complain freely. Otherwise, complaining isn’t the only thing you can do—just stop complaining! Why bother at all? The day’s too short for that.
Speak Your Mind
Have you ever tried abstaining from complaining? What’s the one instance you simply can’t pass up complaining? Tell us what you think below!