“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”
– Stephen Hawking
I was standing in line at Macy’s a few weeks ago. There was a lady behind me and two others paying for their items at the register. All three ladies were complaining. From what I could tell, one was complaining about how Macy’s refused to refund her money on an item and the other two were complaining about not receiving discounts. For ten minutes, I was caught in a complaint triangle.
Let’s face it, we all complain. Some more than others. We do it for several reasons:
Impatience: It figures. I’m stuck behind this 80-year old driver and I’ll be late for work. Why do you still have your driver’s license anyway?
Jealousy: Look at John getting into work late as always. He has a terrible work ethic. I can’t believe he received that promotion over me.
Lack of Understanding: What do you mean this coupon won’t work for items already on sale? You mean I wasted my time coming here?
To Vent: I told those kids a million times to please put the milk back in the refrigerator when they’re done.
I had one of those complaining days just recently. I can’t explain it, but everything seemed to bother me:
My body is sore and I’m tired. Why do I have to go to the gym today?
This dumb project seems to be never-ending. I can’t wait until we’re done.
We have two parties to go to this Saturday. I just want to stay home and relax.
I was even complaining about vacation! (I have to go home, pack, and get ready to go).
Just reading this list again embarrasses me. What was I thinking?
It’s OK to complain sometimes. It’s healthy and can help us blow off steam. But we have to be careful that we don’t cross over into the chronic complainer zone. This is a dangerous place where we complain for the sake of complaining. We don’t want any advice, we just want to suck someone into our miserable world. Avoid this zone at all cost. Here’s how:
Monitor: The first step is simply to be aware of your thoughts. Is this a passing thought or something that’s been hanging out for awhile. Cut these thoughts off before they take root.
Think…then speak: If you’re about to blow off steam, make sure it’s done the right way. Is what you’re about to complain about even worth complaining about? Before you fly off the handle at your spouse, child, friend or co-worker, check yourself before you say something you might regret.
Be Thankful and Change Your Thoughts: My favorite and most powerful way to crush complaints is something I picked up from Joel Osteen. Whatever the complaint might be, turn it around and be thankful.
“Ugh, it’s Monday and I have to go to work.” becomes, “I get to go to work. I’m thankful to that I have a job.”
“I’m tired. Why do I have to go to the gym.” becomes, “I’m healthy and fit. When I’m done, I know I’ll feel great.”
“I have to go to two parties this Saturday.” turns into, “I’m surrounded by friends and family who want to hang out with me.”
So, where are you on the complaint meter? Monitor your thoughts and conversations for the next few days. You might be surprised at what you find.
How much complaining do you do?