How to Stop Complaining

June 7, 2013

in Life Lessons

stop complaining“Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.” ~Proverb

On the last two miles of my typical run course, I often see an older woman out for a walk. I don’t know her name, but I have a brief exchange with her each time I pass her.

She never walks alone. The woman has a small, light two-step step stool as her companion. Her pace isn’t a speed walk, but instead is very slow and with a concerted effort.  Her ambulatory abilities were most likely affected by a stroke. Struggling to walk and needing the step stool to sit on for breaks, her happiness never ceases to have a positive impact on me.

Experiencing her positive attitude when I do is a blessing; it’s always at the end of my run, which is a tortuous incline. My silent curses and fatigue fades as I see her from a distance. How can I complain about my run or how I feel as I approach someone so completely happy and yet struggling to walk down the street? I can’t, of course.

This is just one example of a typical opportunity to complain: while exercising. But there are so many other reasons: the weather, financial situation, weight gain, relationship problems, work problems, traffic, and more. Some people complain more than others, but it is something we all do.

The act of complaining is a toxic activity. In the time we complain, we could be finding a solution to the problem. But controlling it isn’t always easy to do when frustration levels are high. It’s important to remember that while everyone complains on some level, we also have the ability to control it.

Here are a few simple tips to turn complaining around:

Focus on being positive. Stop the negative train of thought, and think of three positive things. Playing my son’s alphabet game might help.

Take action. People often complain, but not do anything to improve the situation. The best way to halt complaining is to fix the problem. It might not be easy. Making a change might involve discipline and hard work, but solving the problem is the best way to eliminate complaining.

Focus on being grateful. Maybe something challenging is happening, but there are so many other aspects of life to be grateful for–count them daily.

Allow for imperfections. Even with taking action, being positive, and focusing on gratitude, no one should expect perfection. A bad day is going to happen, and allowing oneself to vent is normal. Honor those feelings and complain to a loved one or friend. But learn to let it go and move forward, not wallow in negativity for an extended period of time.

How to you overcome the urge to complain?

Share below!


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Vinny C June 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of complaining about my job of late (not that I haven’t had good reason). I’m grateful to be employed, but the place is a nightmare.

But you’re right, nothing good comes from just sitting there & brooding over the situation. I’m trying to complain less, but with this toxic atmosphere I’m in, I know it’ll be a hard fight.

That’s why I decided to do something about it & I’m job hunting again. It looks like things are actually looking up as a result.

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Naked Girl in a Dress June 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm

That’s awesome, Vinny! Taking action is the best idea when dealing with a toxic workplace.

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Punky Coletta June 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I so need to start paying more attention to how often I complain about things. I like the idea of trying to find something positive in any situation that I want to complain about. Yesterday I was complaining about this woman at work who hates me and how unfair it is for me that she treats me horribly, then I stopped myself and tried to think about all of the positive and loving people I work with, and realized that there were way more people like that. It felt awesome and powerful to focus on the positive!
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lisa thomson June 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Great suggestions, Kelly. I write in my journal when I feel the need to vent. It helps me figure out what I need to do to fix the problem. Sometimes I just tell a friend and let my feelings out with someone I trust but I get bored with my own s**t so no doubt, friends will too :) I always remind myself that in spite of the challenges I’m facing, I’m very fortunate!
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Joe June 9, 2013 at 12:56 am

This is something I need SOOOOOOO badly to work on. That, and ending sentences with prepositions, of course. Over the past several years, despite numerous good developments and averted disasters, I have been in a death spiral of complaint. I’m aware of it, though, so I guess that’s a start.

I’m going to reread this post and some of the posts to which it links EVERY DAY. Okay, I probably won’t, but I will come back and remind myself of its message. And the image of that old woman is a great place to start.

Thanks for this.
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Megly Mc June 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm

It goes back to the old Lincoln quote about “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” :) I agree, completely. When I mire myself in complaining…I drown in it.

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