What I mean by complaining is pointing out the negative aspect or interpretation of a person, a product, or a situation, in order to get it out of your system. I’m not saying I never complain like that, I am saying complaining never solves anything. That isn’t to say you should never give feedback, only to take care in how you do so. It’s one thing to let the waiter know your fish was served cold, it’s another thing to get angry and pitch a fit about it. Or worse, complain to other people how awful it was, but never letting the people who can actually solve the problem, know about it.
This is a tricky issue, of course, because biting your tongue, if that’s the only thing you do, will put holes in your tongue, but not solve anything either. It’s not only that you refrain from complaining, the deeper solution is to interpret what you see from a more powerful perspective.
Don’t see this a THE answer to life’s problems. This is a flashlight for seeing things differently and experiencing life differently.
Here are some ways you can think about whatever is annoying you….to see it in a new way.
1. Complaining puts your complete focus on and directs all your energy to what is wrong, not on solving anything.
Because of this, complaining tends to reinforce what you don’t like, instead of doing what it takes to make sure this doesn’t keep happening to you, or keep bothering you.
2. There’s something in the way you’re interpreting IT, whatever you want to complain about, that makes a significant contribution to perpetuating IT.
Let’s take this example from my years of teaching. I hated it when students arrive late. I really really hated it when they arrive late on a regular basis. I think it’s disrespectful.
Guess what? Complaining about how irresponsible these students (even if it’s true,) will NEVER make them get to class on time. And excuses? Well, some are too lazy to come up with create excuses, but some are quite talented in this department.
What does it take to make these students punctual? Would you like to know?
Before I go on, I must say that the vast majority of college students everywhere are punctual. It’s just a small minority that have a consistent problem with getting to class on time.
It’s simple. It’s a clear communication about expectations and consequences. You can come up with any sort of system you want, the simplest one is to simply lock the door at the time class starts. Your system and how well you calmly enforce it, will take care of the problem. The students will either come on time, or not at all.
OK. What if it’s not your student, but your parent or spouse who’s bothering you?
It’s the very simple but not easy art of disagreeing without being disagreeable. (Disclosure: I learned that from my dad.)
The best baby step for doing this:
Let the person know you don’t enjoy/appreciate X, long before it REALLLLY gets to you.
See if there’s a way to completely eliminate the problem creatively. Like if it’s a toothpaste tube issue, buy toothpaste in a non-squeezable dispenser. When children don’t do their chores, you don’t do them, either. (I know that’s asking a lot, you can come up with your own consequences.)
(P. S. This applies to political discourse as well.)
In any case, complaining only makes it worse. What do you do to keep from complaining?