Having an afternoon complaining session with your buddy might feel like the jolt of energy you've been looking for to keep your day going. And while venting might feel like a stress reliever, it can actually tarnish your outlook on life. Even though there are ways to complain less throughout the day, first you have to figure out why you're doing it in the first place.
According to WedMD, people may complain because they're trying to connect with others."For example, we use complaints as icebreakers," says Robin Kowalski, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Clemson University. "We start a conversation with a negative observation because we know that will get us a bigger response than saying something positive would." While that may be the case for some people, others might complain because their outlook on life is bleak and they only know how to talk about negative situations rather than positive ones. Kowalski said there are two categories of complaints: instrumental and expressive. Instrumental complaints are about hoping to resolve the issue by finding a solution. Expressive complaints, on the other hand, are just about venting and not really looking to fix the problem. But whatever the reason is that you might be complaining, there are a few ways to tone down the negative attitude and help you enjoy life again.
1. Think Before You Speak
Before you open your mouth, pause and think about whether or not what you're about to say is truly important. "When you have the urge to complain about something, wait 5 to 10 seconds and ask yourself, 'does what I am saying serve a positive purpose or add to anything?' If the answer is no, practice holding your tongue," says psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. Try To Be Solution-Focused
While complaining can feel like a stress reliever, it's better to find a solution to your problems so you won't have to deal with the issues for longer than you need to. "Try to change your thinking to be solution-focused, not problem-focused. Teach yourself not to just complain, but to have an answer to what you take issue with; this way you are adding to change instead of putting negativity out," says Martinez.
3. Recognize What Triggers Your Complaints
"Recognizing that their triggers, which tend to be repetitive in people's lives, can be viewed as opportunities for self-growth rather than obstacles. That is, each time they get triggered to complain, they can use it as an opportunity to process through it for self-growth and development instead of stay stuck in it," says therapist and well-being coach Shira Taylor Gura to Bustle over email. By acknowledging what triggers your negative thoughts will hopefully prevent you from vocalizing them.
4. Become Aware Of How Often You Complain
Sometimes you don't even realize exactly how much you actually complain. Keep track of what you're saying and you might even surprise yourself with how much negative energy you're putting out into the world. According to Fast Company, Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps , said, "You’re absolutely shocked," says Blake. "After two or three hours of observing, it’s in the hundreds."
5. Surround Yourself With Positive People
You become who you surround yourself with, right? Well, if you want to complain less, try to surround yourself with positive people. According to The Huffington Post, when you surround yourself is positive people you may be less stressed and find more joy in everyday life.
6. Use The S.T.U.C.K. Method To Stop Complaining
Rather than feeling stuck in this emotion of anger and disappointment, use this method to get you stay positive. "The S.T.U.C.K. Method helps you get unstuck. Getting stuck happens to all of us. Each of us get triggered and get 'stuck on' any number of emotions, such as stuck on anger, stuck on disappointment, and stuck on frustration, just to name a few. When we wake up to the fact that we are stuck, we are able to use that as an opportunity to process through it for personal growth and development," says Gura. If you don't know, S.T.U.C.K. means: Stop, Tell, Uncover, Consider, and OK, and you can read more about it on Gura's website.
7. Express Your Emotions Rather Than Complain
Instead of just listing off things that are bothering you, pinpoint the emotions that you're feeling and vocalize them to others. According to Psychology Today, Andrea F. Polard, Psy.D. said, "Try to simplify by expressing in a few words your actual experience, such as, 'I feel sad (helpless, angry, hurt, afraid, appalled, or pained).'"
8. Think About Long-Term
While these problems might be making you feel negative today, are they really going to control your future in any which way? The answer is probably no. According to The Huffington Post, co-founder of Southwestern Consulting Rory Vaden said, "Your problems are so big but only in the context of today. You’ll barely remember them next week. You’ll forget them within the year. Over time it’s never as bad as it sounds or as good as it seems, it it?"
9. Be Less Judgmental
Sometimes you complain because you may be judging the negative situation or the choices other people may have made. But if you want to make a difference, allow yourself to accept that you cannot control every situation. According to Life Hack, try to remove should have, could have, and would have from your vocabulary. This may help lower your stress and accept the situation better.
10. Change Your Attitude
One of the only things you can truly change in your life is how you view it. Make a difference by improving your attitude to be more positive. According to Entrepreneur, if you're constantly thinking negatively, the only thing you're going to do is complain about everything. Remember that you're in charge of your attitude and by being less negative, you may bring more happiness into your surroundings.
11. Remember What You're Grateful For
It can be easy to forget what you have when you're constantly complaining about what you don't have. Reverse your thinking so you can become more grateful. According to Self, sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D., said, "The additional challenge is that you have to come up with something different every day.” While you can be grateful for your cat every single day, it may be more beneficial if you can think of new things. Novelty can help evoke gratitude authentically so you feel it in your bones."
Rather being known for the person who's constantly complaining, be the type of person who brings positivity and happiness to all situations.