Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Confessions of a Complainaholic - How to help yourself stop complaining



My worst habit is actually my biggest complaint about others.  People who complain are my pet peeve.  I complain about other people complaining multiple times a day.  "Ugh, so annoying" (accompanied by my ever-present eye roll) is a daily phrase. Some weeks I whine so much that I even annoy myself.  But I've taken notice and I've been working (very hard) to curb this most irritating and unhealthy of habits.  It can be because of the weather, the parent on the playground who lets their kid run wild, the photography show I didn't get into, my husband not picking up his socks, there are no ripe avocados at Whole Foods, I missed the bus, someone didn't return and email, the subway car that smells, my daughter won't eat her dinner, I have a headache, and on and on and on.  You feel me?  But recently I've been making a conscious effort to change and stop this negative cycle of constant complaining.

I've realized a lot about myself (some things that I like and some that I don't) since having a child and complaining is one that I actually feel ashamed of.  After I had my baby I recognized two traits that surprised me - first, I'm actually a really patient person when I always thought the opposite and second, I'm a terrible whiner and complainer about anything and everything.  I often hear myself and wonder when and how I got so bad and lost so much control over my thoughts.  In an effort to become better, for my daughter's, my husband's and my own sake, I've been working on curbing the complaining and I think that with a little more work I might actually kick this habit for good. 

Here are five tips to help stop the cycle of complaining.

1.  Ask yourself why you are complaining.

This is something I always think about even when I'm happy with the outcome of a certain situation.  I determine what my expectations are and whether or not the result of what I'm doing meets those expectations.  This always motivates me to work harder and to be better.  Complaining while comparing yourself or your situation to someone else is a complete waste of time and energy.  Here's a great article about this.

2.  Let yourself vent.

Venting is not the same thing as outright complaining.  Instead of letting all those negative thoughts and stresses marinate, let them out with a person you trust.  I usually find that when I let myself talk things out I realize it's not as bad as I led myself to believe.  Also ruminating is just not healthy.

3.  Listen to yourself.

It seems like a simple concept but most people don't think before they speak.  Are the words you're saying mostly negative?  Try to change the way that you talk about things to be more positive.  When I hear others complaining it also reminds me not to do it because who really wants to put that much negativity out there?

4.  Control your focus.

I find that I'm most centered when I concentrate on what I'm doing rather than on what people around me are doing.  Staying focused is increasingly difficult when we're all so connected via social media and our smart phones but taking a personal time out to focus on yourself is important.  I try not to constantly have my phone and I carve time out for myself to read, work out or go for a walk and it helps to control my focus and handle daily stress.  When we feel better we have fewer things to complain and whine about.  If it's a problem in your life, especially a financial or professional issue or a problem in your relationship that you are complaining about try to focus on ways to fix it.  Shift your focus from how terrible the situation is to how you can make it better (this helped me A LOT when I was trying to decide whether or not to change careers and it's helping me now as I think about what I want to do next).

5.  Be grateful.

Being mindful of little things can change your entire perspective.  In recent years and especially lately I've made it a habit to find one thing to feel grateful about every morning and trying to carry it with me all day long really sets the tone for my day.  When you take a few seconds to be thankful you'll find that you have many positive things to feel happy about.  Focusing on negativity makes me less productive and unmotivated but finding things big and small to be grateful for makes it easier.

I also loved these tips from the Huffington Post and Eyla for how to stop complaining.

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