It was an incredible dose of reality.
“Do you realize how much you complain?”
He couldn’t have been talking about me; I was the optimist, the happy-go-lucky, ray of sunshine! Since I was a baby, I have always woken up smiling. How could he have known me for all of these years and been so terribly mistaken?
Until I heard myself talk.
We all complain – it’s quite nearly a sport if you think about it. Especially in major cities! How often do we hear the ongoing buzz on the street of how crappy the traffic is, how frustrating the airports are, how much there is to complain about just managing to get around in life itself?
Did you see that guy jump ahead in line?
Thankfully (and this may be due to that smiley, happy baby nature), I never became one of the Chronic Complainers, where nothing is never quite good enough.
These are the obsessors, the complainers who complain because it’s the natural thing to do for them in the world. The Eeyores to the Poohs.
And, I luckily managed to escape The Venters for the most part, although I did find myself getting pulled into the drama of listening to others’ dissatisfaction over something or another from time to time.
The Venters often appear to be talking about that thing that upset them, but with closer inspection, you may find that they spend much more time talking about how it affected them.
The Venters seek empathy and want to feel validated for being put off by something. Ultimately, they want attention.
I did, however, completely overuse my Constructive Complaining valve, the third type of complaining.
This is when you feel like you are offering constructive criticism, or ‘help,’ to improve a situation. I had advice for everything. This likely reinforced that I was in the right business, but I had to hear these words from this solid guy to understand that not everyone wants constructive criticism, and it was likely creating a rift in this and other relationships.
Have you ever stopped and thought about how you may be showing up in the world?
Complaining is one of those features that we may not realize is affecting our relationships. It may feel good or normal to us to complain over something, but those negative remarks overload our brains with our high-octane stress hormone, cortisol, which creates a host of health problems later on – everything from high blood pressure to stroke.
It’s also contagious – it’s easy to chime right in on a complaint, even if our initial intention is empathy. Finally, complaining stresses others out. (This is probably why my old friend pointed out my autopilot complaining to me.)
So, it would do well to cut out much of that complaining. But how?
It seems the gurus of gratitude had it right all along.
Gratitude focuses on the positives around you. The negatives, the very things you may complain about, still exist, but they aren’t at the forefront in your mind. When we focus on what we are thankful for, we are happier and healthier.
And, there is nothing wrong with wanting things to change – in fact, that’s the other way to cure all that complaining.
Notice that many complaints are excuses for circumstances that we can control or change. How might you avoid that awful traffic? What changes could you make to improve your job, love, or life?
When I chose to focus on what I loved about my life, my relationship, and my work, and I focused on the changes I could make and control, the complaints started to dissipate, and this generally happy woman became a lot more fun to be around. ♥️