Attention All Complainers: Listen Up!
For Thanksgiving, I decided to do something different. Instead of discussing thankfulness and gratitude (which we will come to), I decided to talk about the other end of the spectrum.
So let’s give you the science immediately.
Not only do repeated negative thoughts make it easier to think yet more negative thoughts, they also make it more likely that negative thoughts will occur to you just randomly walking down the street. (Another way to put this is that being consistently negative starts to push your personality towards the negative). Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” (Steven Parton, Scientist)
Yah, really. It’s no joke when science says that complaining is bad for our health.
I knew someone, actually someone I used to work with, who complained about EVERYTHING. Frikkin’ everything! About the unfairness of her being given the worst clients, to having the worst behaved child in the world, to having the most unsupportive husband, and the list went on an on. I can complain with the best of ’em, but I’m telling you, I was Miss Susie Sunshine next to this woman. The truth is, no one likes to be around a complainer, except well, maybe, other complainers.
Now, we all complain. Hell, it’s normal. But I would like to ask you a question now, if I may… HOW OFTEN do you complain? If you don’t know the answer, ask those around you to shed some light. How about your husband, your friends, your co-workers. I’m sure they’ll have a wealth of knowledge to share with you. And I’m sure once you ask, they won’t hold back!
Now by complaining, I don’t mean the times where you share your problems with someone and are genuinely looking for solutions and ways to improve your life. No this is GOOD! I’m also not talking about the times where you candidly discuss failures or disappointments you’ve experienced. We all need a shoulder to cry on, and someone to help kiss the boo boos, so this is not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the useless complaining. I’m talking Fran Drescher on The Nanny! These are the people (some I know well), that are ALWAYS complaining, something like, “My stomach hurts,” “I have a headache,” “I can’t make a decision,” “I think I have diverticulitis,” “The weather is so bad all the time,” “The service here is always slow,” “This wart on my foot just won’t go away!” Oy. It’s the kind of complaining and whining whereby it’s always the same recording with this person. It’s the someone you tell that your child had the flu and threw up 9 times in 1 hour, and they reply with a, “You think YOU had it bad? When my daughter had the flu, she threw up 15 times in an hour and we ended up in the hospital on an IV!” It’s always a one-up-man-ship, and they always have it worse.
Know anyone like this? Are you this person? Ever heard this quote? You gotta laugh!
“Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”
— Lou Holtz
So, if it’s you who is stuck in this vicious complaining circle, decide that it’s Thanksgiving, a time to be grateful, and a time for change.
Here are some tips to stop the whining:
- Instead of complaining, focus your attention and energy on problem SOLVING, rather than problem creating. For example, instead of complaining how exhausted you are, try and get to bed earlier and stop piling too much on your plate. Instead of telling people how fat you feel, make the effort to fit the gym into your schedule.
- Every time you’re about to speak and it feels likes a whine or complaint is about to come out, stop, and think again about what and how you’re going to say that thought. Think: is there any point to saying that? I mean really, why complain about something you have zero control over, like the weather or the bad traffic? It’s so futile. We can’t complain about what we can’t control. People also like to be around POSITIVE people, not negative ones.
- Learn how to speak less, and listen more. God gave us two ears and one mouth, I’m pretty sure for a reason. Get the hint? How about the words you do speak today, test yourself and tell yourself, I will try and not complain for the next week and see how I feel. When you actually rid those negative words from your mouth, you’ll rid the negative energy from your body.
- Think about the misfortunes that exist in our world. Think about the injustices of the world, child slavery, young children dying of cancer. It will put things in your own life into perspective. I once wrote a blog post about being grateful. Be grateful for what you DO have.
- Think about WHY you complain. Think about all the time you could be spending actually making your life better and becoming a woman of action. If the service is slow at a restaurant I’m eating at, my husband dies, but I get up, and grab the water and serve myself if I’m thirsty. If the kids need napkins at the local diner, I get up and help myself. It’s too easy to complain that people are incompetent, and much harder to do something about it. Think personal responsibility. Think… do you want to give your power over to someone and deny responsibility, or allow responsibility into your life? It’s all a choice.
So ladies, we all complain. We’re all tired. We’re all stressed. Everyone is just trying to make a living. All of our husbands are sometimes unappreciative of us. All of our kids complain about the food. We all have shit. But let’s try and not complain too much. I’m gonna try today. That’s a promise.
So, on a related topic, here is a quote that resonated for me just in time for Thanksgiving. I hope it speaks to you too.
Happy Thanksgiving to my friends south of the border. I wish you lots of turkey, lots of love, lots of gratitude, lots of happiness.