I used to be a chronic complainer. The weather was terrible, my friends were unfair, my job was horrible, my health was awful, my past was horrible, etc.
While I do recognize the hardships that I have faced, I have tried to change my outlook towards Life. I gradually learned to complain less. It wasn’t easy. Believe me!
Here are a few things I learned through my (ongoing) journey from being a Nagger to a Version 2.0, that bickered less:
1. Be Accountable for your Life
I enjoyed being a Victim.
(Note: Victim here does not refer to people who have faced mental abuse, physical abuse, or general systemic inequalities of society. It relates to a victim mentality towards a normal life).
If I chose to be a Victim, I didn’t have to be Accountable.
Why can’t I succeed? Because Life is unfair to me.
Why can’t I have good health? Because my work takes away my energy.
Why can’t I have a keen hobby/interest? Because I have no time and so much stress.
It is easy to be a privileged victim.
I have had two mentors through my work journey, who questioned my Victimhood. Whenever I started giving them excuses about trivial things, they would say, “What and Who is stopping you?” That used to be it. I had no answers (excuses) after that point.
My brother said something along similar lines “Stop trying to act like you are the victim and start taking responsibility.”
To this day, those are some of the best pieces of advice that I have received.
2. Pause, Think, Think some-more, Think a little bit more and then Speak
Whenever I get the urge to complain about how dissatisfied I am with my Life, I Pause and take several minutes to sit quiet and think.
Sometimes, my ego overtakes my Pause. In such scenarios, I write down my frustration and let it sit for a few hours. For example, when I get an angry email from a client, I write a draft email and leave it for 3–4 hours.
That gives me enough time to think and make a smart decision. I could either blow everything out of proportion or come up with ideas to diffuse the situation in the best way possible.
When required, I do stand my ground and speak assertively, but it’s essential to know that we take actions from a place of higher intelligence and understanding.
3. Solution Mindset
Once I started to think and understand each problem from different perspectives, I realized that most of my whining, wasn’t to resolve the issue, it was to shed light on the problem and walk away from it, like it wasn’t my business to solve it.
Now, whenever I complain, I try to think of solutions. The answer is as much my responsibility as the problem at hand. It might not be the best answer (and that’s why we need other’s help), but, it’s still an answer.
I have bad health? What’s the solution?
I have an uncomfortable situation at home/work? What’s the solution?
Having a solution mindset has helped me develop creative resolutions to even the most challenging problems.
4. Complaining to get it off your Chest? State it!
There have been situations where all I feel like doing is complain. No amount of pausing and thinking helps such situations.
That’s when I try to find a 2000% trustworthy friend or family member and share my story. Finding a trustworthy friend or family member is extremely important. They have to be the one who genuinely care about your problem and isn’t just waiting for a juicy piece of gossip that they can pass along.
Once I find them, I state it, “I know I am angry right now, and most of the things I am about to say against this person/situation isn’t true, but I want to get this off my chest so that I can process it later.”
Be honest about what you are feeling, but also be honest about why you may be feeling it. Maybe you are just angry at someone because you were having a bad day?
5. Instead of Complaining, Listen
I can confidently say that I have gained 100 times more by listening than complaining.
Listening to people helps me make smart decisions and understand their requirement. If I am in no position (or do not want to) meet those requirements, I walk away respectfully.
In my everyday work-life, I have realized that most people just want a listener. They want us to understand how hurt and frustrated they are. We may not even have the solution to their problem, but the least we can do is quietly listen.
6. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it behind their back
We talk behind people’s backs constantly. I know I have done it. It’s a force of habit.
I realized (very recently) that talking behind people’s backs is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. Yup! Not to the other person, to ourselves.
Let me tell you why:
a) The more we talk behind people’s backs, the less people trust us. Just for a moment, close your eyes and imagine the person whom you respect the most? Does this person talk behind’s people’s backs? I am fairly certain they don’t!
b) We lose much of our precious time and energy
c) We sub-consciously manifest hatred and negativity towards the person we are talking about; thus, closing doors to the opportunity of a beautiful future relationship.
Life is challenging at times, and through this article, I do not wish to spread the message of suppressing your feelings. We must speak our truth.
But having said that, I would challenge you to look at things from different perspectives. Life might not be as bad as we perceive it to be. Let’s try to think different!