Everyone has vexing issues that get under their skin from time to time, and it’s human to feel frustration, but what should you do about it? A little whinge on occasion can serve to let off a bit of steam, but complaining rarely does much good, and can even prolong challenging situations.
Identify and Interrogate
Perhaps there’s something frustrating you’re experiencing. A stressful relationship, a bothersome boss, kids driving you crazy? The first important step to moving forward is identifying the issue. Is it really one of these irritants? Complaining can often be a symptom of other issues that everyone faces, like general insecurities and doubts; complaining about smaller problems can be an outlet or a way to feel more in control of the things happening in the world.
It can be productive to take a step back and try to identify if there have been setbacks in your own personal journey: perhaps this is the true root of your concern. If you can take the time to identify exactly how you are feeling and what you are facing, you may find yourself indulging less and less in the negative loop of complaining.
Turning the Tables
Aside from a temporary cathartic feeling, complaining rarely has a tangible impact on any given situation. Further to this, it can even hamper potential progress. It may seem challenging at first, but shifting from a tendency to complain, to a more action-focused frame of mind is key to engaging with an active mindset where challenges can be overcome. Try and view annoyances as temporary, take control of the situation and remember that everyone runs into problems. Opening up to people about your own struggles is healthy, but perhaps asking for advice rather than complaining will enable a more productive discussion. As you move forward with this mindset, you may find a sense of positive momentum building up where complaining feels less and less like a natural response.
The brain’s prefrontal cortex regulates many different aspects of your personality; its health and the links it makes with other parts of the brain are crucial for day-to-day decision making and social interactions. While complaining and stress can lead to a decline in these interconnections, practising mindfulness, meditating and engaging in physical exercise can all serve to improve these links and activate the prefrontal cortex. Taking time out to have an active mind and body can be your first step to helping you maintain a positive frame of mind when you experience irritants.
Try and react to challenging situations with a solutions-based mindset. Even if you can’t fix the situation immediately, you may find you feel more empowered and optimistic about your predicament if you can plan or foresee steps to remedy it.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to talk about your worries, or vent your concerns—it’s healthy to do both—just work on how you approach problems: they may start to seem less severe when looked at with a positive mind frame.