For some, a day’s worth of complaints starts the moment their feet hit the floor after getting out of bed – their neck hurts from sleeping wrong, the sun isn’t shining, someone left the cap off the toothpaste and it’s dried up, so and so forgot to plug in the coffeepot….and so the day begins.
Anyone living with a habitual complainer (or maybe yourself) you are not alone. Americans are good at finding things to complain about and like to share their thoughts with others. While sometimes it feels good to be in a banter with another fellow complainer (especially if you both agree on what the topic is), after a while it can begin to feel wrong. Complaining incessantly can rub not only other people the wrong way, but those who are the complainer may start to see that constant negativity can be very wearying on the mind and even body. Pessimism can aggravate not only your thoughts and actions but also physically exacerbate chronic health problems like diabetes or asthma.
If complaining has turned into an unpleasant and unwelcome habit for you or someone close, the world may no longer feel safe or welcoming. A persona of doom and gloom may follow you as you actively look for the next bad thing to happen. This barrage of dissatisfaction can quickly turn off others from wanting to spend time around you. Is this any way to live?
While everyone complains at times, your goal is to do a check of how often a negative thought is spoken. Ask yourself, before you speak, is what I’m about to say a complaint or a general statement? Will it make others cringe or give them pause to ponder it thoughtfully?
To pull the reins in on the complaint department, follow these 6 steps to begin listening to yourself – do you want to sound more disagreeable and objectionable or would you rather sound pleasing and complimentary? You choose:
1. Cherish a positive attitude
Life gets messy – all of us can agree on this. It’s easy to automatically start complaining about a situation you have little to no control over. But look at the big picture. Ask yourself will this really matter to you in five minutes, five months or five years? Try cultivating a positive spin on how you perceive the problem. Learn to accept the situation for what it is. In just about every bad situation, there is a silver lining – look for the silver lining and move forward.
2. Look inward
Whenever you find yourself complaining, stop and ask, “What am I upset? Is it a small thing bugging you or a larger issue in your life needing to be addressed?” It helps to write down in a journal what you are complaining about. From there, figure out why it’s pushing your buttons and write out solutions on how to fix it.
3. Remind yourself whenever you complain
Just like it helps to be mindful of food choices throughout the day, mindfulness can be very effective in reducing the frequency of complaining. One way to accomplish this is to wear a bracelet or rubber band on one wrist. Each time you hear yourself complain (involve others to point out to you when you do), switch it to the opposite wrist. Set a goal to go for 10 days with your bracelet or rubber band on the same wrist.
4. Keep complaints off of social media
While social media does have good qualities such as reconnecting with old friends, there are plenty of not so good things about it. One is those who like to air their complaints to the world via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. There’s enough complaining and negativity already on these networks so one less additional complaint helps.
5. Start and end with a positive note
Chronic complainers are no fun to be around. Yet, if you have a legitimate complaint, remember to start and end with a positive note. Otherwise, people will run when they see you coming. Maybe your complaints are personal, work-related or even a world-wide grievance you wish to talk about. Start with a positive such as, “You cleaned the bathroom really well. I appreciate you taking the time to help me out.” This sounds so much better than starting off with negativity.
6. Embrace gratitude
There’s a surefire way to destroy complaining – gratitude. Embracing gratitude reminds you of everything you have to be thankful for. Thankfulness is not just about the good things; it also includes the events, good or bad, in your life that’s shaped who you are today. Often these are blessings in disguise. Each day write down at least three things you are grateful for and watch your habit of complaining disappear.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostatecancer911.com.