A lot of us have a bad habit of complaining too often about our bodies, jobs, finances, friends, and family. The goal is to rewire our habits so we can be happier, more positive people. We want to add light to our conversations. Not hang over them like a wet blanket.
By allowing negativity to be in control of our conversations, we are only encouraging ourselves to have a negative view on life.
Why Complaining Feels So Good
I want to start with the fact that some people are SO GOOD at being positive and uplifting. I would love to say that’s me.
This post is for people who, like me, struggle against our inner beast that wants to share all our negative thoughts and opinions.
Of course, anyone should feel able to speak up when life is challenging and they are in need of a helping hand from a friend or family member. I just know that I’m not usually looking for help when I share negativity with others.
If we’re being open and honest with ourselves, we probably know we are just complaining because it makes us feel better when others know all about the problems and struggles in our lives. It’s not healthy, and it won’t create any opportunities for us to grow as people.
Avoid Competing to Win the “Worst Life” Award
The worst part of sharing complaints and negativity is the door it opens for others to share their struggles. Then it can become a low-level competition for who has the worse life.
It’s an unspoken challenge, but when I walk up to a friend and say, “My life has been so crazy lately — and my boss has been driving me insane,” I get the usual response and sometimes a question or two.
It’s almost always followed immediately by an equally or more frustrating story from the person I shared with. The cycle usually continues back and forth. It’s engaging. We keep feeding into it because it feels good to complain.
On some level in our lives, we have to be honest with ourselves about the fact what we, as people, love to whine and complain. We’re naturally interested in what’s wrong with other people’s lives.
However, I think there is a connection between our “need more” culture, and how we participate in negative conversations with others.
It would make sense that if we make an effort to change our social habits when we’re talking about our lives, we can become happier, more fulfilled people.
3 Tips to Stop Complaining All the Time
I’ve been working for years to change my habits by looking for opportunities to share POSITIVE stories with people. I haven’t succeeded in cutting out all of my complaining, but I can say that I whine less often. As a result, I have been involved in fewer “complaint competitions“. Here are three ways that I try to be positive in conversations with my friends, family, and coworkers.
1. I Give Myself a Talk in the Morning
I try to start every day with a conversation in my head about what’s happening in my life right now.
Not all of the things that I have going on at a given time are positive. For example, today I was thinking about needing some repairs on my car, how much I didn’t want to wake up and go to the gym, and the dishes I’ll have to clean before I make dinner after work. UHG
Complaints. However, I was also thinking about how excited I am to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband, and the fact that I have plans to see both sides of my family this weekend. WHOO!
After having this conversation with myself in the morning, I have lots of options for things to discuss about with the people around me. By sorting out the things I am currently excited about, I give myself easy answers to offer others that won’t start a cycle of complaining.
2. I Try to Hit the 3:1 Ratio in Conversations
Even after I’ve had the talk with myself in the morning, I still catch myself whining to people. It’s like a disease!
Instead of giving up and just going through more and more negativity throughout the day, I take a moment to reset before it gets out of hand.
For every negative thing that I share with people, I will try to seek out at least three opportunities to say something positive. If I told someone that my car is a piece of junk and needs some expensive repairs we can’t afford, I’ll try and catch myself and begin my next statement with something positive. Despite the issues, I am thankful to have a working vehicle that gets me to work and home every day.
Sometimes I’ll even change the subject completely or offer a genuine compliment to the person I am speaking with.
Here are some starter directions to take when you are looking for an opportunity to share something positive about your life:
- I am thankful that…
- It’s been great to have the opportunity to….
- Lately I’ve been excited about…
Here are some options for things to change the subject following a negative statement or story:
- Anyway! No need to focus on the negative. Is there anything you’re looking forward to coming up soon?
- By the way, have you tried anything new lately that you’re loving? I’ve been __(insert activity here)__ and have been really enjoying it!
- Oh! I’ve been meaning to ask you. I love your __(insert something you genuinely like)__, where did you get it?
If the other person looks confused or asks why I changed the topic, I take it as an opportunity. I’ll explain that I am working on being more positive.
Most of the time they are excited about it, or even agree that they should work on it too. Changing the topic saves you and the other person from the temptation to get wrapped up in a real downer of a conversation.
3. I Review My Day as I Fall Asleep
When I am falling asleep at night, I use it as my time to think about how I did that day.
Instead, I look back over my conversations and how I interacted with people. I try to find ways that I succeeded in being the best version of myself. (Not to mention ways I could improve!)
For example: I will often find that I complained more in the morning. Whether it was about being tired, not getting enough sleep, traffic, the weather, or any of the other morning grumpiness that I have. I am working on choosing something positive to focus on until I’ve had enough time to fully wake up. (or have a cup or two of coffee!)
I accept the places where I need to improve at night. Then I follow-up on them when I am having my morning conversation in my head about my goals for the day.
Creating Opportunities for Contentment, NOT Complaints
I hope that you feel encouraged to take a look at how you interact with other people. It’s been an incredibly positive experience to try and sort out the reasons behind negative habits, and it’s certainly given me a lot to work on!