It is said that, on average, each one of us complains about 15 to 30 times every day. This mostly comes in the form of venting to a partner or to a friend when we are tired, afraid, overwhelmed, or have an overload of feelings and we need an outlet. It’s healthy and refreshing after we vocalize about situations or people, including our boss, our day, our loss, perpetrated injustice, imminent danger, politics, or the deep distresses of our hearts and souls when life is difficult. When looked at this way, complaining can be constructive, healing, reparative, and can cultivate relationships that have deeper connection.
However, our complaining may sometimes go overboard and become exhausting to the listeners; especially when we become people who are never satisfied, when we become unhappy people who are constantly frustrated over everything, when we become people who are discontented, who cannot see the positive side of anything, and when we get into the habit of constantly bombarding others with our issues. At such times, complaining becomes a sinister way of asserting ourselves to secure our own comfort regardless of how those around us feel, and we end up conveying defiance, disrespect, or disapproval.
Chronic or constant complainers see only the bad no matter how good things get; and they go to huge lengths to point it out to everyone who cares to listen. Even in a perfect world they will find something to moan about. They never appreciate anything, compliment anything, or provide solutions to their complaints. They believe everything sucks and cannot be convinced otherwise. To them, nothing is ever quite good enough.
Chronic complainers will nag about everything, including parents, spouse, not finding a good parking space, children, the car, the afternoon traffic, taxes, politics, the society, mortgage charges, property rentals, fuel costs, and food costs. To constant complainers, the weather is always too warm or too cold, the spoons are never at the right place, the pants are never clean, the boss is always a jerk, the food is always lousy, and work sucks. They behave as if the world revolves around them. They are quick to blow a fuse and go on like a broken record when things don’t go their way. Their high horse is out of reach and nothing you say or do will get them down. Most of the time they just want to be listened to, no judging, no advice, just empathy. But when this does not happen, they say that they are ‘not feeling supported, listened to,’ or ‘we don’t care about them.’
But what chronic naggers ignore, or do not care to know, is that constant complaining has harmful effects to the complainers themselves and to those around them.
Research has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus, which is that part of the brain which is essential to problem-solving. Complaining also releases cortisol, the stress hormone, which raises blood pressure and blood sugar. Frequent complaining can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
Constant complaining destroys our relationships with others, mostly because apart from being annoying, it makes us to become negative people, and it makes those close to us to become exhausted, depressed and broken hearted, no matter how cheerful they were before. We invade their personal space, steal their happiness and leave no room for them to share their own emotional life. By constantly ceasing every opportunity to whine, complain, bitch, and moan, we suck the energy of those around us as they try to empathize with us and listen to us. We make them feel mentally drained and lethargic. The overall effect is that we spoil the mood around us, drag others down and make everybody to not want to be around us.
Self-awareness that we nag is a huge first step towards relaxing and shaking off the habit of complaining. We need to move out of being in denial; we should stop thinking that our lives are much worse than everyone else’s. The second step may be taking responsibility for choices and decisions that we have made in the past, and everything we do or say. We need to realize that a complainer does not cease to be a complainer when he stops complaining; but ceases to be a complainer when he/she starts giving thanks as a way of life. Complaining is overcome when we appreciate what we have, acknowledge the good things, dwell on what has been done right, and cultivate gratitude; when we inculcate in us an attitude of always thanking God for all the things He has done for us.
We should remember that when we cry because we have no shoes, there are others who have no feet; when we complain that our breakfast table never looks like the picture in magazines and the menu is unbalanced, there are many who have nothing to eat; when we complain that we have no pants to wear, there are others who have no legs; when we complain that the alarm that wakes us up is too loud, there are many who are deaf; when we complain that the sun is too bright, there are many who are blind; when we complain that life is unbearably hectic, there are many who are bedridden; when we complain in the morning that socks are misplaced, the toast is burned, and the children are so loud, there are many who are lonely and alone; when we complain that the routine of our job is monotonous, there are many who have no job. When we think it can’t be worse and that life sucks, we only need to look around us, and there’s always going to be someone else who has it even worse.
We need to refresh and sooth our weary souls by understanding that when we don’t have freedom and control, all that’s left to do is complain. Having freedom will constantly remind us that we’re in the driver’s seat of our lives, that only we control our destiny, and that we can always make better any and all situations that life throws our way.
Nicholas James Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker, advises us to “Never complain”, despite being born with a rare disorder, called tetra-amelia syndrome, which is characterized by the absence of arms and legs.