The Google definition of the word complain is to “express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.”
Spending some time in the presence of a complainer today put me in mind of the heavy blanket of negativity we put out there for others to share when complaining becomes our perpetual conversation. When complaining is our habit, we wire our brain for negativity. Negativity is to our mind what Twinkies are to our waistline. Bad news.
Below are a few strategies that have helped me combat my negativity (an ever-present battle…some of the pathways are wired in hard!).
- Awareness. Being mindful is almost always one of the strategies for whatever personality quirk you’re working with. Last year in response to a book I read on negativity, I chose to wear an elastic band on my wrist for a month and to be mindful of my negativity. Whenever my conversation was one of complaint, I moved the elastic to my other wrist. Let’s just say it moved a lot in the first few days, but gradually my awareness grew, and I noticed it moved less and less. This tangible object helped anchor my awareness.
- Distraction. Challenge yourself to take some action when the gremlins of complaint rear their ugly heads. It’s hard to offer a commentary of complaint when you need to think through what you’re doing, a knitting project, reading, cooking, exercising, etc.
- Gratitude. Want to stop complaining its tracks? Mentally list three things you are grateful for in that moment. Very effective change in perspective.
- Acceptance. There are times of the month when the feeling of negativity is overwhelming. Give yourself the gift of self acceptance and allow those feelings to just be without the need for solutions, acting on them or inflicting them on other members of the human race. Observe, but don’t engage.
When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it. All else is madness. – Eckhart Tolle