Why Do We Complain So Much?

I’m so tired. I’m so busy. This is so unfair. I hate it here. It’s so hard. Why do I have to work so much? Why can’t I just sleep all day? It’s not as nice as I expected. This sucks.

We seem to be surrounded by people who flourish on complaining. It’s almost romanticized in a way, given how common it is on social media. In today’s post, I’d like to emphasize the difference between letting out things that are bothering you (venting) and focusing on the negative aspects of your life (complaining).

There’s a very interesting thing that happens to our mindset when we stop focusing on what’s going well in our lives. We become complacent and accustomed to a certain level on ingratitude. Let’s unpack how to properly vent, what to do when you feel like complaining, the power of gratitude and how to help other people.

How to properly vent

It’s often incredibly helpful for us to let out our thoughts and troubles. When we engage in dialogue, it allows us to make sense of the chaos in our minds, in order for us to structure it for other people to understand.

Venting is a common way for us to do just that. To comprehend our own problems and articulate it well enough for others to give valuable input. It does however, require a few criteria to be in place. This includes trust, psychological safety and a willingness for us to be vulnerable.

When we start talking to other people about our issues, we need to make sure we’re not just playing victim and complaining about everything. This might make us feel better temporarily, but it can also burden the other party by making them deal with the consequence of our negative energy.

What we should do instead is clearly express how the situation made us feel, instead of bashing the situation itself. Being objective here can be quite useful, to specify the aspects that are actually bothering us. When we’re with people we trust and have a sense of psychological safety around, it typically induces us to be vulnerable.

That’s the main difference between venting and complaining; our willingness to be vulnerable and express our emotions, compared to just focusing on the negative aspects of the situation.

Vents Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock

What to do when you feel like complaining

For many of us, it becomes a habit to just start complaining. It’s the first thing we do when things don’t go according to plan (which happens more often than we’d like). So what can we do when we have the urge to start complaining?

The answer lies in a bit of self-awareness. We need to first start understanding the underlying emotions that we’re feeling. This could be feeling frustrated, upset, annoyed, angry, fed up, lonely or just stressed. Once you’re able to identify the feeling itself, learn to accept it.

Acceptance is a key ingredient here yet again. Understand that first and foremost, the feeling is temporary. It will pass. You will get through it. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. We tend to overlook that fact when we’re in the crux of things.

Just try and take a step back and look at things from the bigger picture. You’re learning. You’re growing. The experience will help you evolve. What you should do instead, is find actionable steps to overcome the issue.

Complaining doesn’t bring you any closer to the solution. Focus on finding ways to deal with the problem or to even just understanding it better, you’ll be amazed by how much easier life can be.

The power of gratitude

Remember, energy follows focus. Which means that our power lies in our ability to focus. When we’re able to channel our focus onto our blessings and what’s working well in our lives, we start directing energy into our potential and abundance.

Instead of complaining (or focusing on what isn’t going well), try and re-direct your thoughts into what is going well. This will have a profound impact on your mood, energy levels, motivation and ability to get things done.

Gratitude is the appreciation we experience in the present moment for something we’re blessed with. We’re all blessed immeasurably. You can never count all your blessings, but I suggest you try it out and write down a few things. Do this every morning before you start your day and you’ll immediately start experiencing life a little differently.

After a while, you’ll start appreciating the struggle. You’ll be able to handle the challenges life throws out you more readily. More than just that, you’ll be a lot more joyful and full of energy.

Helping other people

If all else fails when you’re trying to resist complaining, try helping out other people instead. More often than not, this will give you perspective into the problems other people are dealing with, which could help you empathise with them and see your own issues in a new light.

I don’t like to say ‘look at how much better off you are than other people’, because the point isn’t to undermine your own issues. The point is to understand that everyone has issues. Everyone is dealing with certain struggles.

If you can make life easier for just 1 other person, you’ve contributed significantly. This will build momentum and you might even try and make your own life easier (we tend to complicate things for ourselves a lot more than we need to).

Oprah Winfrey Quote: “Helping others is the way we help ...

What I want to leave you with is this: Focus more on solutions, what you can control, understanding the problem itself, being grateful for what you have and helping out other people as often as possible. Complaining is not the same thing as venting. Be very cautious of that. You don’t want to unnecessarily burden other people, and you don’t want to waste your own energy either. We need all the energy that we can get.

Stop complaining and start focusing on what truly matters.

Mindful Monday #2

There seems to be a lot going on in the world right now. In light of all the uncertainty, let’s remember to be mindful. In this session of Mindful Monday, I’ll talk about emotional awareness, your responsibility, exposure to information and gratitude.

I’d like to share an intriguing thought I had over the weekend. The planet is healing. Yes, the situation we’re currently in is daunting and frightening. However, there are always blessings hiding within the curses. Greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and waste dumping have all been significantly reduced.

Hmm, also randomly started thinking about The Great Depression and the 1918 flu. Quite a circular process.

We should take some time to reflect, to learn, to grow and to empathize with the world around us. Be wary of toxic productivity, understand your boundaries and focus on your blessings. Let’s relate this to Covid-19.

Emotional awareness

There’s a lot of panic, anxiety and stress amidst the chaos that’s unfolding. We need to be aware of how our emotions are unfolding. It’s critical to stay level-headed and find ‘healthy’ coping mechanisms with our circumstances.

Don’t fall prey to other people panicking. Don’t spread misinformation or be a reason for other people to panic. Watch out for fake news. Don’t be guided by fear. Stay aware of your emotional state and accept it.

It’s okay to feel worried. It’s okay to feel nervous. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Try to be nonjudgmental towards yourself and those around you. The more you’re able to understand what you’re going through, the better equipped you’ll be to help others.

Your responsibility

As it stands, there is no cure for the pandemic. All we can do is try to reduce its impact. That means we need to take responsibility for our hygiene, social distancing and reducing stigma.

Social distancing is one of the most effective ways of containing a pandemic. By reducing the amount of people you’re exposed to, you decrease your chances of being affected or affecting others. It’s critical to maintain high levels of sanitation and hygiene at this point, to ensure you eliminate any sources of contamination.

Stigma always seems to be the elephant in the room. We all know it exists, yet we tend to ignore it. It’s absolutely crucial that we remain supportive and kind to everyone, especially to those who are infected or prone to being sick.

Start taking this seriously and act now. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Here’s a link to an incredible article interpreting the data and talking about your role in helping to deal with the covid-19 outbreak: https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

Exposure to information

We’re living in a hyper-connected age where we’re exposed to more information in 24 hours, than people did in their entire lives around 25 years ago.

Keeping that in mind, we need to be conscious of the news we expose ourselves to. We might not immediately realize it, but after scrolling and reading a few articles our entire mood can change.

Ask yourself how much information you really need to move forward with this. We need to constantly stay up-to date, but within reasonable boundaries. Stay mindful of what your subconscious is absorbing, there’s always a lot to be thankful for.

Gratitude

The best way to deal with negativity is to focus on what is going well. It’s not always easy to shift into that frame of mind, but once you do, nothing can pull you down.

Most of us still have eyes to see, a mind to comprehend with, an eagerness to learn, a loving family, wonderful friends, food to eat and a place to stay.

Think about that more. Show your love and affection to your friends and family. (Virtually of course) Be thankful and be a source of positivity to the world around you.

It’s not easy, I know. We’ll get through this. We’ll look back at how insane things were and smile, knowing we were tough enough to survive. We’ll talk about this to our children and grandchildren one day.

Don’t lose hope. Stay mindful of what’s going on within you. Take in deep breaths and smile. Now is all you have, make the most of it.