Bill Cottringer

“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”
~Jane Wagner.

What could anyone complain about regarding this beautiful day? Oh, I imagine we can find something: The inconvenient travel and other restrictions from the Pandemic, being unfairly overworked and underpaid, not enough money for having fun, disdainful political or religious remarks in the news, a boss’s unrealistic expectations or coworkers not pulling their fair weight, our spouses annoying foibles, or even the weather. The list of possibilities is endless!

The opening quote seems to hold water. Complaining is engrained deeply within us. It can be a natural initial response to the three main conflicts that challenge us all—Us vs. life, us vs. others, and even us vs. ourselves. Throughout life, this conflict response tendency of complaining is reinforced by our parents, brothers and sisters, peers, friends, partners, bosses, workmates and enemies. Today’s challenges and stresses have just made things worse.

Complaining can be a healthy release of frustration from these conflicts that challenge us, which we can’t seem to do anything about, tried and failed, or just plain wrong behavior of others that should be under their control. But, when we start complaining about having to stand in line too long and not bothering to go away and come back again some other day, like the rain, or complain about someone’s righteous complaining, then the complaining has crossed the healthy threshold into the unhealthy arena. This is when we all have a duty to help cure the problem.

What are some practical solutions to help curb this ever-growing problem of complaining? Here are seven reasonable suggestions:

• First, learn to become more sensitive to the dangerous point of no return—when your own complaining has crossed the threshold into being unhealthy and impeding conflict resolution instead of helping to solve it.

• The next time someone brings an incident of unhealthy complaining to your attention in a kind, loving way, at least try to do something to improve what you are complaining about the most and let that productive intervention start a positive new direction.

• Rather than complain about someone else’s complaining, help them to find a way to help improve the negative complaint object in a positive way, as a true partner would.

• Play fair when you are tempted to complain about someone else’s annoying bad habit when it is not really under their control, virtually impervious to change, and should be off limits. This is where acceptance is the only chance for peace and rightfully so.

• Fight the immediate need gratification syndrome to which the nanosecond world of technology has taken us, in realizing all big change brings some bad side effects along with the good. Afterall, we need both to know the difference! Patience always has been a noble virtue and always will be, especially nowadays.

• Consider having the courage to confront conflicts assertively instead of being passive in denying them or aggressive in fighting them. Conflicts provide the best opportunity for personal growth and reduction of the negative impact of the complaining habit. Take more advantage of these opportunities.

• If you chose to be in a relationship with someone plagued with serious mental health issues with substance abuse, gambling or sex addictions; anger issues; financial ineptness; or mood shifts, then be empathic and kind enough to research the problem to find ways you can help mitigate rather than aggravate the problem.

Complaining is contagious and does not generally improve the quality of our lives. So, it only makes sense for us all to stop being part of the problem and start becoming part of the solution.
“When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.” ~Eckhart Tolle.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or ckuretdoc.comcast.net