Have you ever noticed how easy it is for those grumbling little thoughts to enter into your head and quickly spill out through your mouth?

Whilst having a bit of a moan is common human behaviour, chronic complaining can be mentally, physically and socially destructive. Here are 7 ways to quit complaining for a happier, calmer and more patient you.

Is It Ever Ok To Complain?

It’s important to recognise that you are human and the mind will grumble. Complaining often comes about when something or someone goes against how we feel things should be, rather than how they really are.  The frustration and stress you feel arises as you internally (or externally) fight what already “is” in the present moment – creating an emotional reaction.

You can still explain how you feel or highlight when something needs resolving, without it being a negative experience for you or others. If the soup you order arrives at the table cold, it doesn’t mean you keep quiet, eat it anyway and stoically suffer through an inadequate lunch. It means you drop the storytelling that goes along with it. It is not “complaining” if you ask for it to be heated up. It IS complaining if you create an unnecessary drama from storytelling about how this “simply isn’t good enough, your whole dining experience has been ruined and that you had expected better.” 

Why Do We Complain?

Complaining is rewarding in some way, or you wouldn’t do it. 3 common reasons that we all complain are:

  1. As a stress relief. Have you noticed that when you’re in a good mood, life’s little annoyances don’t bother you so much? You feel pressure, frustration or anger mount and complaining acts as a sort of valve to release some of that tension.
  2. To get attention. When we complain to others we are usually looking for sympathy or support. 
  3. It’s a learned behaviour. Often established in childhood, if your role models complained, you learned that this is the way to go about solving problems. 

What’s Wrong With Complaining Or Moaning?

Let’s be honest, complaining can feel pretty good sometimes, so why not indulge? It may offer short term relief but complaining can become insidious. We all know a chronic complainer, and how does it feel to be around them?

Complaining in itself does not solve a problem and often masks the real issue that needs to be dealt with. Although to the ego it may feel like complaining is empowering, in reality, it usually comes from a place of victimhood. Constant complaining is a vicious negative cycle which has a detrimental effect on your brain and physical health, as it is often a sign of underlying and unaddressed stress.   

7 Ways To Help You To Quit Complaining And Feel Calmer Every Day

1. Journalling

As complaining feels so good because it is a form of release, finding constructive ways to express and let go of thoughts and feelings can help. Before you start or end your day, release the swirling thoughts that accumulate in your head onto paper with some free-flow journaling. 

Allow whatever is coming up for you to simply flow out of your head and onto the paper. It doesn’t need to make sense, or even form coherent sentences. Journaling is a useful tool to let go of frustrations that arise, talk to yourself about what may be bothering you and process any feelings that come along with it. 

If you get stuck, use some of the following prompts:

  1. What is on my mind?
  2. Right now, I feel challenged by ________. I feel supported when ________.
  3. What wisdom or potential for growth can I see in the challenges I am facing right now?
  4. Recently I’ve found myself focusing a lot on ________. I would prefer to be focusing on  ________. 
  5. When in the past has a situation which felt ‘bad’ at the time, turned out to be a blessing in disguise? 
  6. What are the things that help me the most right now?
  7. How do I want to feel today?

2. Practice shifting your focus to find the positive

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

Our binary brains love to label events as either “good” and “bad”. Not surprisingly, you tend to shy away from experiences that don’t feel so good. But every single experience contains both positives and negatives. When you train yourself to look for the positives, you feel better and gain valuable nuggets of wisdom to take forward as a learning experience. This is a habit cultivating exercise and doesn’t happen overnight. 

When you notice yourself focusing on the negative – try shifting your focus and ask, what value can I gain from this situation?

Over time, consciously training yourself to search for the positive becomes an unconscious habit. Being positive is its own reward with research finding positive people live longer, have lower rates of depression, cope better during difficult times and have better immune systems and physical wellbeing!

3. Notice judgement

Try and catch those judgemental thoughts as and when they arise. It’s so easy to make others wrong because our ego loves nothing more than to be right. 

When you remember that you don’t always know the full story, you haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes and in many circumstances, it’s none of your business – you stop creating unnecessary frustration and become more patient and understanding of others. 

When you do catch judgemental thoughts, do not turn that judgement on yourself. It does not make you a “bad person”. There’s no need to bring this cycle of judgement around on yourself. Observing it is enough to make it disappear on its own when you choose not to feed the thoughts.

Simply say to yourself or even out loud (if you’re alone) “JUDGEMENT” – to stop the thought in its track – and then move on.

4. Swap complaining for action taking

It feels a lot easier to moan about something rather than do something about it. If there are areas in your life that you find yourself complaining about on repeat, it’s time to assess what needs to change. When you notice yourself complaining (in your head or out loud to someone) ask yourself:

1) Has this particular topic, subject, frustration arisen before?

2) What is the real root of the problem? 

3) Is it temporary and will pass or do I need to take action for things to change? 

4) What steps do I need to take to resolve this feeling and create positive change to move past it?

Take ownership over your own life and how you want it to be. If you wake up every single morning moaning about going into the office, is it time to look for a new job?

If you’re finding that every catch up with your friends turns into a niggle session about your other half, is there a conversation that needs to take place with your partner?

Rather than just complain, drop the victimhood, step into your power and ACT to shape your life the way you really want it. 

5. Ask this 1 question to put it all into perspective.

In the moment, much of what we complain about feels perfectly justified. In your mind, you have been “wronged” by someone or something. But grumbling about it also requires that you give up your feeling of peace for frustration. When the desire to complain arrises, ponder to yourself how important it really is. 

Ask yourself “Is it better to be right or to be happy?” 

This simple yet profoundly powerful question helps you to evaluate what really matters most and whether it is worth paying the price of your peace of mind. 

6. Share your feelings

You can’t whitewash over emotion – it’s always going to come back and bite you in the butt.  Bringing more awareness to the internal stories you weave helps you to consciously decide how you want to feel and act – but it’s important to be REAL.

We all have bad days. We all get swept up in external circumstances. We all feel down. We all mentally grumble. In short – we’re all human!

It’s not about becoming “perfect”, it’s about finding and using tools that help you to lean into the best version of yourself. Bottling up the way you feel never does any good. Recognising and then expressing your emotions is a valid human need. Mindset work should never attempt to brainwash yourself into banishing what you view as “negative” thoughts and emotions. 

Putting unrealistic pressure on yourself to deny emotions will likely keep you stuck and unable to move forward. You cannot and should not attempt to lock away how you are feeling or keep it to yourself for fear of looking like you are “complaining”. 

Confide in someone who cares and let them know how you are feeling.You can still express challenging emotions – whether it’s suffering, frustration, anger, confusion. It all comes down to HOW you express them.

When you avoid creating blame or stories it isn’t complaining, it is sharing how you are feeling. Being more mindful of the circumstances – aka who you choose to tell and the words you choose to use  – allows you to release without generating or feeding into negativity.

7. Use gratitude

Whether you’re looking at it from a spiritual or psychological point of view – one thing is for sure, you get what you expect from life. The more negative you are, the more negativity you seem to attract. The more you can look at your life with a positive frame, the more that positivity expands and grows.

Have you heard the Cherokee Indian legend of the two wolves before?

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Gratitude really is a healing superpower. To cultivate gratitude, start or end your day with everything you feel thankful for in your life in this moment.

  • Make a list on paper/in a journal all the things (big and small) that you feel really grateful for in your life right now. 
  • Share/talk with your partner or a loved one, what you are grateful for at the end of each day before you go to bed.
  • Say to yourself out loud or just in your head what makes you blessed. 

When you feel a mental grumble arise during the day at any point, try and think of 2 things that you feel thankful for to counteract it. 

Complaining makes what you already have at this moment feel somehow not good enough. When you shift the focus to think about the ways that you feel blessed, you open the door to replace frustration with satisfaction.  

This article was first published on www.soulfulscrapbook.com