Why Stop Complaining?

The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellects.

--Lord Jeffrey

While my personal sentiments aren’t quite as strong as Lord Jeffrey’s up there, I do believe that complaining is a kind of plague that has spread rapidly throughout the human race, and that in order to be successful one has to purge themselves of it.¬† I don’t think those who complain are inferior– just lost.

And in the same breath, I should mention that I still complain, though I endeavour not to.¬† Fair warning; quitting complaining is quite difficult.¬† Most of us have been brought up by people who complain and around people who complain.¬† Our friends complain, our parents complain, our celebrities complain, our idols complain, (Well, some of them do.) almost everyone we know, as well as everyone we know of complains.¬† It’s socially acceptable, and often seems to be expected.

You’ll notice that when someone starts complaining, you usually feel compelled to join them in their complaints so that you can relate.¬† It’s quite a normal human thing to do– levelling with someone so that you can create some form of bond.

Complaining seems harmless at first glance.¬† It’s a stress reliever, and it lets you express your anxiety or distaste for something or someone in a safe way.¬† That’s true, it does.¬† But complaining does more than you think it does.

What complaining does on top of relieving stress is the following:

By complaining either out loud or inside your own head, you’re telling yourself that your life, or certain aspects of your life are unsatisfactory.¬† That they’re bad, or that they aren’t enough to keep you happy.¬† That’s a very powerful signal to be sending your consciousness, because what you’re essentially communicating is that you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances.¬† If you’re in a really terrible situation, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re just complaining that your cup of coffee is luke-warm, complaining about it isn’t really worth the repercussions.

Complaining also serves to communicate that you aren’t doing anything about your current circumstances– that despite the fact that you are quite dissatisfied with your situation, you’re not doing anything about it.¬† By telling yourself that, you are in affect keeping yourself complacent about the situation.¬† After all, if you were going to do something about the issue, you would be doing it instead of complaining about it.

There’s also the fact that no one likes to listen to complaints or to complainers.¬† Complaining makes you feel bad, and it makes the people around you– who often complain as well in an attempt to relate to what you’re talking about –feel bad as well.¬† A lot of people are under the misconception that complaining makes them feel better, but in fact if you paid attention to how you feel right after you complain, you would realize that it usually doesn’t make you feel very good at all.

No one complains about things they can’t change

Jack Canfield talks about this in his book¬†The Success Principles and many of his seminars.¬† People don’t complain about things that they can’t change.

He gives this example:¬† You never see an old lady walking down the street, hunched over saying “Damn Gravity!¬† Always pulling me down!”

They complain about things like their job, the mess in their house, the injury they got, their lack of money.

These are all things that are in our control.¬† Despite the fact that many feel trapped in their jobs, the reality of the situation is that if they wanted to, they could quit at any time. You can make time to clean the house instead of watching TV.¬† You can take it easy when you feel your joints starting to get sore, or when you’re reaching your limits.¬† You can discover new ways to earn money by going back to school, searching for a better job or starting a business.

Pretty much everything we complain about is something we have control over.¬† Try and remember that the next time you start to complain about something and you’ll realize that whatever it is you’re complaining about is something you could change.¬† Sometimes that change might be huge, like quitting your job, and put you in an unpleasant situation, but nonetheless you could do something about it if you want to.

Looking at issues you’re complaining about in this light allows you to reconcile your life.¬† The moment you think about complaining about something, stop and think.¬† What could you do about this situation in order to make it the way you want it to be?¬† Then, when you’ve figured out that, ask yourself if you’re willing to take the steps to eliminate the source of the complaint from your life.¬† Yes?¬† Or No?

If Yes, take the steps and stop complaining.¬† You’ll feel better for having done something about the source of the complaint, and you’ll know what you need to do in the future if it ever happens again.¬† If you answer No, then that’s good as well.¬† Now instead of feeling like you’re the helpless victim of this poor circumstance, you’ve made a choice.¬† You are deciding that the effort it would take to right this wrong in your life is not worth it, and so you are choosing to take the issue in stride.

Either way, the responsibility is yours and you no longer have anything to complain about.

Take responsibility

It’s a frightening concept, taking responsibility for everything you complain about.¬† Most of us complain a lot– several times a day at least.¬† But when you take that step towards responsibility you are essentially grabbing the steering wheel for your life.¬† You stop attributing your luck and the events in your life to chance, and you take action in order to make your life the way you want it to be, instead of letting things happen to you that you are dissatisfied with.

My advice?¬† Stop complaining.¬† You’ll be glad you did and you’ll finally address all those little annoying problems that have built up over time and either decide to live with them as they are the better alternative, or take the action to get rid of them.¬† You’ll be surprised at what a different that decision makes.

2 Responses to “Why Stop Complaining?”

  1. Travis says:

    Complaining is an insidious drug to kick, no doubt, and you’ve covered the topic well.

    I think your point that complaining is essentially non-action gets to the heart of it. When we complain about something, we tend to not be making it better. We’re just perpetuating the imperfection.

    We should be CELEBRATING that imperfection. Or at the very least, accepting it.

    • Tom says:

      Absolutely. I think that the reason quitting complaining is so beneficial is that instead of feeling like you’re this victim of fate because your life isn’t perfect you make a decision to accept those imperfections, or eliminate them whenever possible. You start to feel much less like you’re lost in life’s current and more like you’re directing it to take you where you want it to.

  2. [...] why I wrote about complaining.  It affects your life in ways you may not even realize.  When you focus on the negative, you [...]

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