I know some people who complain a lot. (Sometimes, I am one of them! Lol)
But, I also know of a few people that really don’t like to complain. These people deliberately filter the “negative” out of their conversations in an attempt to not sound like they are complaining. They even apologize for “complaining” when they simply describe the very-real, very-legitimate challenges of their day. Their thinking is along the lines of “No one likes complainers, and I want to be liked, so I can’t complain.”
In their attempt to “not complain”, they tend to not be completely honest when sharing the way they really feel, or when telling others their needs. This leads to the “non-complainers” feeling misunderstood and feeling not-truly-seen, and then their relationships experience tension.
Seems like a big price to pay for “not complaining”.
But is “not complaining” the same as “never speaking negatively”?
No. It is not the same.
Here’s what Positive Psychology says about complaining:
“Complaining is a form of judgment. Complaining is rarely aimed to solve a problem (“I don’t feel like working today,” “Things never work out the way I want”). You do not expect the person to whom you complain to have a solution for you. Rather, it is asking for a confirmation of a negative state, hoping that the other person goes along with it. Complaining can be a denial of responsibility. In general, when the goal of interaction or expression is different than simply venting a negative emotion or concern, it cannot be regarded as complaining. For instance, one hopes or believes that the listener can help or contribute to solving the problem or concern. Possibly, one wishes to communicate a negative experience in the hopes that the other person who was involved will change his/her behaviour in the future.
“For instance, you may have something on your mind, and you would like to talk to somebody. If you talk to somebody because you hope that the person can do something for you, such as offering a listening ear, this is not complaining. Another example is when you have arranged to meet up with a friend who does not show up, and you talk to another person about it, it is not a complaint. It may, after all, lead to a change in the other person’s behaviour. If, however, you talk negatively to another friend about how delinquent the first friend was without any intention of solving the problem, then this could be regarded as complaining.” 1
So, complaining is what you do when you are in a negative state/mood and you talk about negative things, hoping someone will join you in the swill you’re swimming in.
Complaining is like finding yourself sitting in a cesspool and raising your hand up to another person. But you aren’t raising your hand up so they can grab it and help pull you out; you’re raising your hand up so they can grab it and you can pull them down.
Reflect, do you complain?
What would happen if you complained less often?
What would happen to your relationships if you weren’t afraid to speak about the “negative”?
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
1- Alberts, H. Increasing awareness of complaining. [PDF] https://pro.positivepsychology.com/tools/increasing-awareness-of-complaining/
Sign up to receive inspiration, skills, tools, and tough love right in your inbox each week. Don't worry, we won't share your email address and we're not going to fill up your inbox with junk.
Practical Strategies to Deal with Daily Stressors
Sign up to receive inspiration, skills, tools, and tough love right in your inbox each week. Don't worry, we don't share your email address and we're not going to fill up your inbox with junk.