Complaining has no value. It comes from a need to deflect responsibility for anxiety onto others. Complaining does not aim to resolve an issue or change circumstances. Complaining serves only as a means of venting frustrations and to garner sympathy and support. Complaining is a means of coping for those who are afraid or incapable of addressing and overcoming the barriers they face (Alicke et al.,1992).
Having recently read a summary of a study into the role of complaining in social interactions I reviewed my own bouts of complaining. They were indeed designed to enlist support and sympathy. Oh my, the few times that sympathy and support were not forthcoming resulted in deep indignation on my part. On further reflection I also noticed my complaints have all been aimed at others in situations when I felt helpless or powerless or when I was simply too lazy to develop a plan of action and follow through.
This behaviour is toxic. It does little to create a harmonious environment in which we can grow and thrive. It stunts our progress, belittles us in our own eyes and keeps us bound in limitations. By enrolling others in our complaints and gaining their sympathy are we not also belittling them and binding them in a vicious cycle of non action?
The solution? I’m not sure I have the answers but a few things that come to mind, a few strategies I’m willing to try, include:
- Being more mindful of our words.
- Catching ourselves before we ‘share’ our woes.
- Understanding our need for support and sympathy when things get tricky and difficult.
- Reframing our complaints so they become requests for assistance in finding solutions and action steps rather than accusing and deferring responsibility for solutions in preference for sympathy.
and, finally, to borrow the words of Don Miguel Ruiz – “Be Impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love” to benefit yourself and those around you.
Grow your world in positive ways!