Why you should stop complaining
Complaining is one of the activities that most of us can do very well. It seems natural to complain when things do not work the way we wish. And we feel better by doing that, in the short-term. Yes, only in the short-term playing the victim may have some benefits. However, in the long-run complaining is not necessarily the smartest choice.
But, you may say, I have the right to complain when something unfair happens to me. My flight has been canceled, my boss scolded me for no reason, and the list can go on forever. Even though it is true that you may be right, the key question is: how does this help you? Let’s have a look at the other side of the coin, i.e., how complaining does not help you:
- when you complain, you will be upset and in a negative state. Not the ideal setting to accomplish something useful
- in that state, you may say something that you will regret later
- by complaining, you often lose the control. Think about that. When you play the victim, you are telling yourself that some unfair thing happens to you and there is nothing you can do about that.
What could be a better way to react to some bad event then? How to gain control again? One way to do that is first to realize when you are in a “complaining mode”, and then use reframing. In other words, you change the interpretation of what happens so that it will be more useful to you. As a consequence, you will feel better. In the example above, if your flight has been canceled you may say “great, it is an opportunity to explore the city (in case you are transiting in a foreign city)”. Another one may be “I have more time to read” if you like to read when you have free time (a habit I strongly suggest you adopt).
The good news is that when you practice reframing for a while, you will not even have to think about that anymore. When some negative situation happens, you will automatically reframe it. It will just come to your mind. So how do you practice reframing? You can definitely force yourself to do that in your daily life. However, you can also practice with the following exercise. You will find a list of negative situations. Your task is to pretend they happen to you, and find a way to reframe them.
- The person I love has left me
- My boss keeps reprimanding me
- I come from a poor family
- I have lost $50,000 in a bad business decision
- I got the worst cohort of students
- I do not have much education
- I was recently retrenched after 20 years in the company
- The local market for my products is getting unprofitable.
As a hint, the first one could be reframed to “great, this way I can find someone who can love me even more. After all, the chances that the person I found was the “best” are quite small“.
To see some possible ways to reframe all these statements, you can download the following file. Now, before you look at the answers in the file, do your best to complete the exercise. That’s how you learn.
(In order to open the file, you need to use the password that you receive in the welcome email when you subscribe – if you did not receive it, please email me using the form you find in the contact page)