By Follow Your Own Rhythm
“The only thing complaining does, is convince other people that you are not in control.” –Unknown
Complaining is when you express your frustrations, dissatisfaction, and annoyance with something without the ability to do something about it, or without the willingness to change how you think about it, to find a solution, or to accept the situation for what it is.
Pointing out that something is wrong or unfair is one thing, but to constantly complain about it without finding solutions is another. When we bring our awareness to what we dislike in our life or environment, we give ourselves the chance to reflect and find a way to make a change. However, when all we do is complain without any forward positive movement, we are really just whining.
So the rule of thumb is this: If there is something in your life that you have no control over, cannot change, or are not willing to change, you should not complain about it.
For anything in your life that is bothering you and you do have control over it, bringing your attention to that and talking about it would not be complaining as long as you start taking steps towards resolving the problem.
For example, when you encounter a grumpy cashier at the grocery store, you have no control over their attitude, so there is no use in complaining about them. When it rains outside, when you are stuck in traffic, or when you are sick, there is no use in complaining as there is nothing you can do about that in that moment.
What you can do is bring your feelings of discontent to your attention, and figure out how you can avoid or improve this situation next time. Or how you can look at it differently. If there is no way to avoid or improve this situation next time, then accept it for what it is and move on. Complaining a.k.a whining; however, does not need to be a part of your life. It is absolutely unnecessary.
I know, I know. It’s just so hard not to complain. There are so many things to complain about. And sometimes it’s easier to express our frustration about something than to actually take action and do something about it. I struggle with this too sometimes. We all do, even if we claim to be the happiest people on earth. But here’s the truth from Dale Carnegie:
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.”
To avoid complaining takes serious self-control because it comes so easily to spew out our frustrations. We are conditioned to complain about things that we don’t like. We are not conditioned to go with the flow, trust life, and accept the moment as it is.
So we have to recondition ourselves. We have to relearn to not complain because complaining just feeds the seeds of hatred, dissatisfaction, and negativity. The very negativity that we complain about actually gets fed by our complaining about it. How ironic right?
What is the purpose of complaining?
The honest truth is that at an unconscious level, it gives us a false sense of power and control. When we complain, we feel like we are right, and the situation that happened is wrong. We right it by complaining about how it should have been or what was wrong with it. And this makes us feel superior, powerful, knowledgeable, and strong. Complaining is a great ego boost. But it is false. It is not authentic. It’s a trick of the mind.
But are we going to let our mind control us? No. Are we going to override our conditionings and create new patterns that serve our highest good? Yes.
So here are 7 things you can do that will help you complain less so you can be more happy and fulfilled:
1. Become aware of what you say (practice being more mindful)
Not many of us pay attention to what we say to others, what we say to ourselves, and how we react to situations on a regular basis. We sort of do all of this unconsciously. And so you have to start observing what you normally talk about to other people and how you respond to situations.
Are your conversations full of complaints? When something bad happens, what do you do? What do you say? How do you respond? By becoming aware of yourself, you will start to notice how natural complaining comes to you. So once you are aware of this, you need to catch yourself in the act. Bust yourself when you are complaining and transform your thoughts into something more productive and positive.
2. Switch up your environment and the people you surround yourself with to something that is more positive, uplifting, peaceful, loving, and has the same values as you
Negativity is toxic and draining. You can be the most positive person on earth, but put yourself in a room full of complainers, blamers, and people who judge, hate, criticize, and focus on the bad, and you will feel the effects of that negative energy. So do yourself a favor and get the heck away from people and environments like that as soon as possible and create a life that is inspiring and fulfilling!
Remember: “You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people that you choose to be around.” –Unknown
3. Reflect instead of complain
When you complain, you are just spewing out your frustrations for the sake of complaining. There is no real purpose to it. When you reflect, you voice your concerns and frustrations as a means to find a way to move past it, change it, or improve it. It has purpose. So whenever you find yourself complaining, turn it into a reflection instead and ask yourself “is there something I can learn from this? Is there something I can do to change this? Is there something I can do to improve this? Is there something I can do to make myself feel better?”
Here is my rule of thumb: if you can’t change something, stop complaining about it and let it go. If you CAN change something, reflect on it and change it.
4. Accept the moment as it is
For when you have absolutely no control over a situation; you can’t change it and you can’t leave it (at least for the time being), all you can do is accept it for what it is. Honestly. Fighting it through complaining because you wish it was different will only create more pain and frustration for you. Be easy on yourself. Accept that right now, this is how life is. Accept that for some reason, you have to be in this situation without being able to leave it or change it. Accept that maybe just maybe, there is a deeper lesson that you need to learn from this. Above all, just trust that you are right where you need to be, at least for the time being, so try to flow with it and accept what is happening as much you can.
5. Turn your thoughts around
Any time you catch yourself complaining about something, force yourself to see something positive in that situation. Turn your thoughts around. If it’s raining outside and you can’t go to the pool, instead of focusing on the negative, try to focus on how cozy it would be to read a book instead as you listen to the rain outside. When you get stuck in traffic, try to see it as an opportunity for you to work on being more patient. Complaining brings out the worst in us because it forces us to focus on the negative aspects of life. So simply by coming up with at least one good thing for every one bad or annoying thing that happens, you can start to recondition your mind to complain less, and appreciate more.
6. Don't feed into other people's complaining
Just as you shouldn’t feed your own complaining, when you notice other people complaining, do not reinforce it and make it worse by agreeing with them, laughing with them, or getting worked up just like they are. Rather, be a conscious bystander. Either walk away from them, voice your feelings, or try to turn their complaints into a positive. Try to offer a solution, a new and positive perspective, or a way that you can help them make an improvement.
7. Turn your complaints into action
Whatever you would complain about that you DO have control over, forgo complaining about it and come up with at least one way of how you can change it for the better. Write it down on a piece of paper or in your journal, and start taking actionable steps.
“If you have time to complain and whine about something, then you have time to do something about it.” -Anthony J. D’Angelo
And one more as a bonus...
8. Once you make a decision, respect it
Take responsibility for the decisions that you make. Let's say you want to get a pet. However, you know that it won't be easy taking care of it. You know that you will have to clean up after it, take it outside, play with it, spend money on feeding it, etc. Once you have the pet, don't complain about it being too needy or too expensive; respect the decision that you made as you have already committed to it. Own your decision and respect it for what it is.
Thanks for reading and I hope that these tips will help bring more fulfillment into your life.