The goal isn’t to pretend everything is fine; it’s to stop wallowing in negativity. – “Making Sure Your Stress Isn’t Contagious” – Kristi Hedges
Untold suffering seldom is. – Franklin P. Jones
Show me a person who says he does not complain and I will show you a liar. Complaining is a universal trait. And calling it by any other name – venting, talking, discussing, bitching, explaining – does not change the very nature of complaining; an obsession to tell others what we feel. Again and again.
But, what’s wrong in telling people, especially our close friends and family, how we feel? What if they are interested in listening to me and my problems? Isn’t this why we are social creatures – to talk and share and learn from each other?
Let’s dive right into it. Here are four REAL reasons why you need to stop complaining today.
- Nobody cares about your complaints: Unless you are sitting in front of your counselor or psychiatrist and paying them oodles of money, nobody really cares about your problems, complaints, aches and pains, issues, vents, rants etc. The truth is that everybody is dealing with crazy stuff themselves, and if they do find time to get involved in a conversation with you, it is certainly not to listen to your rants. And if they are listening, they probably are waiting for the right moment to either get up and go, or complain about their problems. So get this into your head – nobody cares.
- Complaining achieves nothing: Except for creating more negative energy around you, complaining (and listening to complaints) achieves nothing. However, if you are engaging with another person in a bid to learn how to deal with your problem, then go ahead and talk. But be prepared to hear a few home truths. Or get ready to actually do something about your complaint.
- Complaining is bad for your health: Contrary to popular notions, complaining does not lead to a “lessening of the curse, or a dimming of the crazy voices in your head“. Repeated complaining keeps telling your brain that the problem is bigger than it what it really is. Research from Stanford University (now we got to believe it!) says constant exposure to negativity affects the hippocampus, that part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and cognitive functions. Complaining also releases cortisol, a stress hormone that puts you in a fight or flight mode. Repeated release of this hormone leads to increase in your blood sugar and pressure. By the way, listening to complaints (much like second-hand smoke) is also damaging to your health. It increases your cortisol release. So watch out who you hang out with!
- Complaining adds to your karmic debt: Whether you believe in rebirth or the concept of karma (you sow what you reap), the negative energy that you create when you complain depletes your “Abundance mentality”. Basically when you complain, you are focusing on the negative, the downside or the lack in your life. Your time is spent more on giving voice to your problems than solving it. Abundance mentality, or a grateful attitude, not just reduces your cortisol production (by 23%), it also clears the mind of clutter, fickleness, fears and worries – all calculated to improve constancy. A clear mind leads to better solutions, and a more positive attitude, which in turn leads to a karmic life where the more positive energy you have and spread, the more it is going to multi-fold and come back to you.
There are multiple blogs and reading material, ranging from physical to religious reasons as to why complaining is bad for you and those around you. And because you are so impressed with my blog, you have decided to stop complaining (it’s possible!). But since old habits die hard, and since we are all social creatures, what happens when we meet other people who complain? Here are three things you can do more of, to deflect the negative energy coming your way.
- Listen: Most complainers feel the need to be heard. If you are stuck with a complainer, the first thing you SHOULD NOT DO is to chip in with a complaint yourself (to get the conversation going!) The second most important thing? DO NOT JUMP in with a solution. Just listen.
- Ask Questions: When awkward pauses come (and come it will), ask questions to clarify what they said. Ask what they are doing to solve the problem. Ask if they need any help to solve the problem. Ask if they know anyone else who has similar problems. If you are done asking, now try distracting! By now you should know that unless it is a professional situation, the complaining is just a habit. They really do not expect you to provide a solution. So if both listening or asking does not help, move on to the next and final tip.
- Walk away: I am not proud of this tactic, but as a kid, I used to regularly hide in bathrooms to avoid the occasional old uncle (the family bore) or the aggressive, inquisitive aunt. Invent any excuse you can think of – bathroom break, need a drink, phone call, send an email, take your medication, feed your kid, slay a dragon – to walk away from the complainer.
Hmm. So you may ask – how do I know if I am a complainer? Rule of thumb – if you think you are a complainer, you probably are. If you definitely think you are NOT a complainer, you certainly are one!!!
PS: Now go ahead and fill my comments section with constructive complaining.
This article first published on my LinkedIn profile –