How to stop complaining so much

How to Stop Complaining: 7 Ways That Work

Think about how you feel when you are with someone who is complaining, after a while, it becomes tiring just to listen to them. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you’re are complaining about. It could be about your relationship, work colleagues, family problems, a recent bill, or even something as mundane as the weather – after some time, you may start to feel your own mood change. Once you’re finished complaining, you’re left with a host of negative feelings. Knowing how to stop complaining can help avoid this.

Now imagine that happens to your mind when it is you who is the one complaining. Being around this kind of negativity is bad enough. Still, when the source of the complaints, the put-downs, and the pessimistic attitude is you, this takes a significant toll on your physical and mental well-being.

At the moment, it might feel good to complain, you feel like you are just blowing off steam rather than causing any harm, and you have never seriously considered before how to stop complaining. However, every time you complain, you are training your brain to do it again and again, and you can end up in a cycle that you will struggle to break. You say negative things, your mind hears negative thoughts, and your attitude shifts onto focusing only on negative things, this is a sure-fire way to leave yourself feeling down and bitter regularly, even about things that never would have bothered you before.

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7 ways to stop complaining

Physically your body also reacts each time you complain; a stress hormone called cortisol is released, this signals to your brain that you need to enter fight-or-flight mode, oxygen, energy and, blood is now directed around your body to any part of you that requires it to have the best chance of survival. This action increases your blood pressure and compromises your immune system, and the more times this happens, the more likely you are to suffer health problems such as strokes and heart disease.

Clearly, it’s fundamental to your well-being that you learn how to stop complaining. Therefore, we have offered some advice below on how you can do just that.

1. Learn to accept changes

A huge step in learning how to stop complaining is to accept that sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want it to, you don’t always get the life you have dreamed of or worked hard for, life gives us unexpected bills and problems, and things change even when we don’t want them to. The fact of the matter is that you just have to accept this and adapt as best you can whenever something like this happens.

The vast majority of people in the world have to deal with issues and changes in varying degrees year after year, it is literally just part of life. The sooner you make peace with that, the quicker you can adjust your mindset. So, the next time a plan falls through, you don’t get the job you deserve, your best friend moves away, or your car breaks down, don’t complain about it. Accept it and move on, Find a way to way to see the silver lining in the situation if you can, but in the very least just understand that things like these are going to happen regularly during your life. If people complained every time, well, then the world would be a very negative place indeed.

Mentally strong people are those who are able to accept and either move on or address the issue head on instead of dwelling on it or complaining.

2. Think about how you affect others

Remember earlier when we talked about how it makes you feel to hear someone complain, well, you need to always bear in mind how you’re making other people feel when you are the one doing the complaining. When you are talking to people such as your friends, family, or colleagues, don’t cross the line between having a genuine rant and full-on complaining. You shouldn’t leave people feeling drained just from talking to you, and I’m sure that you would be horrified if you knew you had made someone feel this way.

Using verbal and non-verbal cues during conversation is an excellent way to gauge how you are making the other people think, and if you are picking up signals that your communication is actually just you complaining, then immediately stop. If you’re not great at reading signs, then just don’t start the conversation in the first place. If you cannot be sure, then it is better not to say anything.

Loving-kindness meditation: Build some empathy through a guided loving-kindness meditation practice. Loving-kindness is a way to build empathy and self-awareness, which is important when it comes to thinking about how you affect others.

3. Remind yourself to be grateful

No matter what life throws are you, I can guarantee that you will always be able to find things in your life to be grateful for. Sure, this may seem more difficult during times of stress, but if you take a few moments, you will always be able to come up with a list. Maybe you are grateful for your family, your pets, your good health, the fact you have enough food to feed yourself. Whatever the reasons are, make a list every time you feel like you need to complain.

Often, we all have lots in our lives to be grateful for, no matter how small, but we get so caught up in the bad that we overlook the positive. Reminding yourself of all the good things you have in your life will help you immensely when it comes to learning how to stop complaining; sometimes, we all need a gentle reminder that the situation is never as bad as it feels.

4. Don’t associate with negative people

You know the saying misery loves company, well the same can be said for complaining. Complaining breeds complaining, and if you are not careful, after a time, the toxic and negative people you associate with rub off on you, and you will find yourself wondering who you have become. Humans have a tendency to follow the crowd or mimic the people we spend the most time with, so it stands to reason that if you spend a lot of time around these kinds of people, it won’t be long before you have unknowingly become one of them.

If you find yourself realizing that the people in your social group are continually complaining and encouraging you to do the same thing, then distance yourself. Furthermore, if someone else points out to you that your attitude has changed since you have started spending more time with certain people, then listen to them, often people on the outside can see changes in us much more evident than we can see them in ourselves.

While it’s always a good idea to stop comparing yourself to others, it’s always good to pause, reflect, and see if your complaining habits come from the people around you that are always complaining.

Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out.

Robert Tew

5. Exercise

I’m sure you heard a hundred times that exercise and keeping active is great for your mental health as well as your physical, and it is because it’s true. This is a significant step in learning how to stop complaining, and you will see considerable changes through exercise. Activities such as running, boxing, and aerobics are good options for getting rid up built-up energy you may feel during times of stress, release your energy in the gym rather than during conversation.

Yoga is an excellent choice for keeping your mind at ease, mindful exercises that focus on reaching inner peace and calm will go a long way to help adjust how to react to a situation that would have typically caused you to complain immediately.

6. Stop being judgmental

Most of the time, when we complain, it is to complain about other people. And we complain about other people because we think that how they are behaving, what they are doing, or what they are saying is wrong. But that doesn’t mean it is wrong, it is just wrong in our opinion. If you’re quick to judge other people’s words and actions, then you are also likely to be someone ready to complain about that person vocally.

After all, it is very satisfying to feel like we are better than said person feel like your complaint is justified. Well, of course, this isn’t the case. Being judgmental and forming complaints about other people is a poor quality to have, and it only reflects negatively on you, not on the person you are complaining about. Stop judging, and you will immediately notice that you have less to complain about.

7. Lead by example

Quite simply, how can you expect other people to stop complaining if you are not also learning how to stop complaining. Don’t be the negative person who is bringing others down or encouraging your peers to do the same. Don’t find a problem when there isn’t one, don’t be snappy and quick to find negatives. Just focus on being the kind of person that you would want to spend time with.

When you start to understand how to live a good life, and you start living it, others will follow.

Stop complaining

Now that you fully understand the effects that complaining has on your mental and physical health, it should be the wake-up call you need to start your road to stopping complaining, seeking self-improvement, and reaping the benefits of changing your mindset. All of the pieces of advice above are small changes you can make that will have meaningful consequences on your life.

5 Steps to Stop Complaining

Don’t complain about things you can’t change. Easier said than done, right? Complaining is so natural to us that we don’t even notice when we’re doing it. For many people, it’s easier to connect over a shared dislike than a shared like. You meet a new friend and complain about the cold weather or your distaste for high-wasted jeans. It makes you feel connected. But complaining has long-term mental, emotional and physical effects that simply aren’t worth it. And let’s face it: Complaining rarely solves anything. So how do we quit the habit? It starts with understanding the deeper, automatic feelings that we developed long before we were aware of them. And then it’s about shifting your mindset to a more positive one while understanding that any habit-breaking practice takes time, patience and commitment. Ready to get started?


Understand why you feel the need to complain.

Complaining is a coping mechanism. And the first step in replacing an unhealthy coping mechanism with a healthy one is to identify when and why it appears. For example, an overworked employee might complain to relieve stress. A struggling student might complain because they don’t know how to solve the problem at hand. But coping mechanisms can also be learned behaviors. Some people cope this way because they grew up in a family of complainers. The act of complaining becomes second nature. To identify the core of your coping mechanism, interview yourself after every instance of a complaint. Here are some example questions:

  • What do I feel right now?
  • Is this complaint valid?
  • What can I do to solve the issue I’m complaining about?
  • Is there someone who can support me in solving this issue?
  • Is this a recurring complaint or a one-off situation?

Be careful when interviewing yourself; this isn’t a time for judgment or negative self-talk. Once you identify the source of your coping mechanism, you can begin to undo the automatic reactions—complaining, in this case—and instead learn to respond with purpose and clarity.

2. Create space to articulate your feelings in a healthy way.

Contrary to popular belief, ridding yourself of a complaining attitude doesn’t mean you’re relentlessly positive and uplifting. That mindset takes time and patience to develop, and if you expect too much too soon, you’ll probably end up more frustrated (and more likely to complain). Rather than complaining in the heat of the moment, create space to vent after the negative emotions have passed. Venting, unlike complaining, is a way to articulate a frustration without the knee-jerk emotions that fuel a complaint. Here’s the difference:

Let’s say a co-worker has a bad habit of interrupting you during meetings. You’ve cast a few side eyes his way, but he doesn’t seem to be getting the hint. Each meeting makes you feel increasingly resentful, and so you complain to another co-worker after each of those meetings. During those complaints, you end up throwing in a few extra jabs about the state of their messy desk and why on earth did he get that haircut. Now you’re feeling worse and probably a little guilty—and you haven’t solved the interrupting problem. Imagine if you had given yourself 10 or 20 minutes to calm down before speaking to that co-worker, or even to the interrupter himself. Imagine if you had said, “Hey Laura, I’m having trouble in meetings because I don’t feel like I can get a complete thought out before someone interrupts me. What would you suggest?” Or, “Hey Steven, I really value your opinions in the meeting, and I would appreciate it if you gave me the space to share mine too.” Even if your hoped solution doesn’t happen, you’ll have nixed a complaint and avoided negative gossip that you probably didn’t mean.

3. Understand the costs.

Perhaps the most important aspect of complaining is to understand whom it hurts the most: you. Complaining might make you feel better in the moment, but that negative talk has serious consequences. Science has proven that complaining—both listening and speaking—causes the brain to release stress hormones. Over time, stress hormones can result in cognitive decline, cardiovascular issues and gastrointestinal problems.

On an emotional level, complaining simply makes us feel worse. Not only are we unable to solve a problem through complaining, but we lengthen the time we spend in negative thoughts. In other words, we’re stealing happiness from ourselves without solving the issue. At any moment, you can choose to change your perspective.

4. Pretend to be happy.

That’s right, you don’t have to feel happy to elicit feelings of happiness. Science has proven that by mimicking the emotion of happiness—such as a smile or a laugh—the emotional response actually follows. This is known as “facial feedback hypothesis.” To bolster this idea, then-Yale psychologist Sigal Barsade, Ph.D. conducted a study that found happiness to be contagious. When one positive person entered a room, the entire group’s positivity increased. (Added bonus: They also performed better at work.)

The next time you feel a complaint coming on—as weird as it feels—force your face into a happy one. Build on the effect by saying something positive to the first person you see. Take note of how you feel after a few minutes.

5. Challenge yourself.

For the natural competitors reading this, consider your no-complaining goal a new challenge. Can you go one whole day without complaining? What about a week? A month? Make it a challenge and enlist a friend or co-worker to join with you for increased accountability.

Remember, though, that this isn’t a time to beat ourselves up when we fall short. If you can’t make a day or even an hour, remind yourself that this is a habit that’s been ingrained in you for years; change takes time. The important thing is that you recognize a complaint when it happens, identify the source of the coping mechanism, and then shift your brain (and face) to a more positive outlook. Keep a journal during your challenge and write down your daily thoughts and feelings. With each day, you’ll get more practiced at ditching complaints. Before you know it, you’ll be the positive one in the room uplifting everyone else.

Read next: Instead of Complaining, Remember These 10 Things

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Five ways to stop complaining all the time



Yana Nosenko

Editor of "Stories" RB. RU

Yana Nosenko

On average, people complain 15-20 times a day. However, some perceive this model of behavior as a common form of communication. The constant presence in this state not only does not allow developing and solving problems, but also negatively affects the environment. Here are five ways to help kick the habit.

Yana Nosenko

Negative consequences

Constant complaints significantly worsen the quality of life. Here are just a few of the possible consequences.

  • Relationships are getting worse. Complaints affect mirror neurons - brain cells, one of the functions of which is to copy the behavior of others. The effect spreads like a wave, impairing our ability to empathize. This affects relationships with others.
  • A dependency is being created. Complaining, which people often interpret as a way to get rid of negative experiences, creates a pattern of addiction, burnout and anxiety. In the brain, behavior is reinforced by practice. Therefore, in order to control the impulses to feel sorry for yourself, you must be able to overcome the temptation to succumb to them.
  • It becomes more difficult for you to enjoy life. If the glass is always half empty for you, it will be difficult for you to notice and appreciate all the good things that are happening around.
  • It hurts the brain. A study by Stanford University showed that complaints affect the size of the brain's hippocampus, an area that is responsible for reasoning ability and helps solve life's problems. Therefore, negative mental attitudes will inevitably affect the quality of the thought process, which in turn will complicate everyday life.
  • Increased stress levels. Due to constant complaints, the body releases cortisol, which is a stress hormone and weakens the immune system. This affects the predisposition to certain diseases, such as heart problems, gastrointestinal ailments, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

It is important to remember that it is not necessary to completely reject complaints, as they can be useful in decision making under certain conditions. It's about the habit of feeling sorry for yourself, which many people use as a common form of communication.

Five ways to stop complaining

1. Focus on the solution

You can change your predisposition to this behavior. As a rule, people who are prone to constant complaints will face negative thoughts in the future. As a result, even what at first glance seems like a harmless remark contains reservations and value judgments. In fact, this is the same complaint, only less emotional.

To break this habit, you need to focus on the solution. As soon as you start noticing ways to overcome problems, the number of complaints will decrease.


Look for alternatives

If you find it difficult to focus on finding a solution as soon as a complaint arises, you need to look for other possible scenarios. Given the negative effects of this habit, it is important to find a way to replace it with something.

In this case, the right questions can be very helpful. What am I complaining about? What is the main reason? What are my alternatives? How will I feel if I don't complain? So it will be easier for you to form a new behavior model.

3. Analyze your behavior

You need to get rid of any thoughts that feed complaints. Coach Tim Gallway's STOP technique can help with this:

  • S = stop (stop),
  • T = think (think),
  • O = observe (observe),
  • P = proceed (act).

Try to think about what would have happened if you had acted differently. Deep immersion in the analysis allows you to push complaints into the background. By applying this practice constantly, you can significantly reduce or even eliminate this habit.

4. Ask yourself questions

People only do what is beneficial to them. Even what at first glance seems meaningless can bring some benefit.

There is one exercise that will allow you to change harmful behavior. For this you will need a notebook and a pencil. Ask yourself what are the benefits of this behavior? What are you getting? And start making a list based on your inner voice. Then set it aside for at least an hour and reread it to make sure your motivations are still relevant.

5. Accept what cannot be changed

“What we do not accept makes us suffer,” said Colombian philosopher Gerardo Schmedling. Therefore, in situations that you cannot change, it is necessary to practice unconditional acceptance.

But this does not imply agreement or justification of the facts. It is necessary to be able to accept and let go of the situation. Otherwise, we begin to constantly complain, and this harms both us and others.

Remember that in any circumstances it is up to us how to relate to certain things. The ability to adequately survive any adversity will allow you to lead a less conflicted and more harmonious life.


Cover photo: Viktor Gladkov / Shutterstock

  • life hacks
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Why do we complain and how to stop it?

When I first brought up this topic in a conversation with colleagues, their reaction was unanimous.

"That's the job, to complain about it!" one of them said. “If she gave us pleasure, then it would no longer be a job,” another assented. “Work is the only thing you can complain about when dining with your family,” added a third. "It's better than arguing over religion or politics."

Researchers say that we complain about 15 to 30 times a day, and if we evenly distribute the number of complaints over the period of wakefulness (which is about 16 hours), it turns out that we complain about something every 32 minutes. So why are we so dissatisfied with the activities to which we devote so much time and effort?

What are complaints?

Before continuing, let's understand the wording. A complaint is a verbal expression of dissatisfaction or dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. This is a manifestation of negative feelings that are directly related to our attitude to life. Not sure if you are one of those people who constantly complain about their work? Try to answer the questions:

  • Do you often feel that your (or someone else's) work is not good enough?
  • Do you constantly expect trouble?
  • Are you surprised by the good mood of some of your colleagues?

If you answered “yes” to at least one question, then you should definitely read this article to the end.

Why do we complain about our work?

To explore the reasons for such frequent complaints, we need to consider factors such as stress, habits, focus of attention and motives.

We complain about high levels of stress

Let's face it, work is a constant source of stress. Our 2015 Workplace Report surveys more than 1,400 office workers across industries about the top causes of stress in the workplace. Here are the five most common reasons:

  1. Lack of information/context
  2. Issues with task prioritization
  3. Unattainable project goals
  4. Postponement
  5. Indistinct manual

Conclusions. These five causes of stress cannot be eliminated overnight. And stress needs an outlet. Complaining is one way to let off steam.

We complain because we are in a vicious circle

What is the danger of constant complaints? That you get stuck in a rut and can no longer get out of it. In 1949, the eminent Canadian physiologist and neuropsychologist Donald Hebb published a book called "Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory" , where he outlined his theory of stimulation of the nervous system and the formation of habits. Its essence is that when we think about a thought or experience a feeling, many neurons are activated. These neurons establish connections with each other and form a neural network. Simply put, “a strong bond develops between cells that fire at the same time.” That is, if you often complain and get used to looking at the world in a negative way, it will be very difficult for you to change your behavior. Your brain, habitually trained to be pessimistic, will keep you in that hole until you consciously choose to climb out of it.

Output. We complain because we are used to complaining. The more we do it, the harder it will be to stop.

We complain because our focus is...

It should be understood that the content of our complaints most often depends on what our negative attitude is aimed at.

  • When we are self-absorbed , the core of our complaints is that our work is not appreciated, or that no one understands our difficulties with stress levels, workload, or deadlines. It all starts at self-pity . “I work so hard and earn so little!”
  • When we fixate on others , our complaints are judgmental . We may complain about someone to ridicule their incompetence, lack of ability or behavior, or failure to meet certain standards. We do this to get the approval of the listeners.
  • When we are worried about the future , we complain about the inevitability of failure, like an unfortunate prophet who sees nothing but coming disasters. Such complaints usually arise in difficult situations when we are trying to find like-minded people to discuss with them the consequences of imminent failures.

Conclusion. What's on your mind is on your tongue.

We complain because we want something

Another way to find out the cause of complaints is to analyze our motives. In his book Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers: How to Negotiate Work Drama to Get More Done Linda Byars Swindling lists five types of complainers with different motivations.

  • The whiner complains about his personal problems in order to get a dose of sympathy from those around him. The essence of his complaints boils down to how unfair life is. "No body understands me. The boss doesn't appreciate my efforts."
  • Complicater complains because of his fear of change and seeks to delay it, deliberately escalating tension. “Why waste time on mastering a new program when our old processes are not established?”
  • Primadonna likes to show discontent so that others will notice her or his efforts. "I'm too busy, I'm tired of such a bunch of duties!"
  • Supervisor strives to take full control of a chaotically developing situation for fear of not getting the job done. “You've been messing around for too long; do it my way, or we'll miss the deadline!"
  • Toxic Complainer deliberately throws people off balance for personal gain. “This campaign is complete idiocy! We need to change everything."

Conclusion. We complain to get something.

How to stop complaining

You can study the causes of complaints for a long time, but what can we do to stop them? W are some helpful tips for developing a more optimistic outlook on life. Council. Change just a few words to turn a complaint into a thank you Mindfulness author and promoter James Clear offers the perfect formula for dealing with complaints: Show gratitude by changing just a few words of your complaint. Don't say that you "have" to do something, but try to say that you have the opportunity. If you talk about your work tasks as burdensome duties ruining your life, you willy-nilly start complaining. "I have to do this, but I deserve better!" “I have to work here, but I get so little!” But what if you start talking about it like a grateful person? “I have the opportunity to work with these professionals”, “I have the opportunity to help these clients”, “I have the opportunity to contribute to the achievement of the company's goals”. Suddenly you will start seeing the bright side too, and your glass will be half full. Try to make your point of view more optimistic.

Make a Complaint Sandwich “From a psychological point of view, suppressing the desire to complain is harmful,” says Guy Winch, Ph.D. in psychology, author of The Squeaky Wheel . - If you do not complain out loud, this does not mean that your discontent is reduced. You're just shutting it up." So how do you express your grievances in a way that doesn't add to your stress while still making things better? Sandwich your complaint between two positive statements that will make your opponent much more willing to remove the cause of your dissatisfaction. Council. Be specific How “vague” and vague do your complaints look? If they do not have specifics, then they will not lead to anything good. Therefore, try to keep your complaints as specific as possible, because in this case they can be used as a guide to action. Instead of "That's a terrible design!" say, "This design should be more youthful in order to arouse more interest in the target audience." Instead of "I hate this job!" say: “I hate these unrealistic deadlines that are being forced on me!” Vague complaints only annoy the people around you and reduce their motivation. Council. Beware the Pessimists Pessimism is also contagious. One way to stop complaining is to cut down on all the whiners in your company. Yes, I understand, it can be nice to discuss the insane demands of the authorities with them and feel sorry for each other. Or gossip in a warm company over the topic of the last meeting. But hanging out with these types of people reinforces your habit of complaining.

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