Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | July 29, 2010

I have a complaint…. It’s about complaining.

Would I be complaining if I said I was bothered by the fact that people complain too much? Rats. That is a complaint, isn’t it. But there is a difference between constructive complaint and “complaint syndrome”. A constructive complaint is specific, not out of habit, and leads to a positive change. Complaint syndrome is a contagious habit that spreads like wildfire through families, offices, social networks, and just about any place where people connect. We have perfected the art of “one downmanship” by playing “whose day, spouse, health, life is worse” to the point that it is difficult to see the blessings; thus keeping us stuck and unhappy.

So I will attempt to make my complaint about complaining constructive by encouraging a different outlook in an attempt to affect positive change. Life is so much more about perspective and attitude than it is about actual circumstances. This is why two people facing the exact same problem will handle it differently. It’s the same problem. But they don’t see it the same way, and so they don’t react or resolve it the same way.

When you look at life as something you must put up with, survive, beat, or control you will always be full of complaint because life is not here to be molded to your ideal. If you are always trying to make it fit your idea of what it should be, you will always have complaints because life operates independent of you. It will not bend to your will or give you everything you want.

Your expectations of how it should be lead you to be disappointed; with life, people, careers, health, the general state of the world, and yourself. Then you find yourself sharing your disappointment. Whoever you share it with then shares their own grievances, and the chain begins. Next thing you know everyone around you is saying, “Yeah, that’s not right. Here’s what happened to me.” Now everyone is focused on what is wrong with the world.

Here is where it gets tricky. If you have a specific complaint about something like poor service or value, by all means complain. But make your complaint to the party you made the purchase from in order to affect a positive change. In this case the change would be you getting what you paid for. It may even affect another positive change because the person serving you may not have realized that their service or item was of poor quality.

Same goes with relationship. If your husband lets you down, go to him and tell him so. Complaining to anyone who will listen about what “he did now” devalues him, your relationship, and you. Telling him how you feel gives you an opportunity to express yourself, him an opportunity to make amends, and the two of you an opportunity to affect positive change in your relationship.

Constructive complaints are necessary for change. If you need to complain to make something in your life or the lives of others better, make your complaint in a constructive manner and then let it go. Complaint syndrome is a highly contagious disease that leaves unhappy people in it’s wake. You don’t have to be a part of this behavior. Here are some simple steps to keep your attitude healthy:

  • Make the decision to stop your own complaining habit
  • Think about what your complaint is and who it should be directed to, or if it even is a legitimate complaint before you speak. Will it bring about positive change?
  • Focus on your blessings. Gratitude is a powerful weapon against complaint.
  • Stay out of the complaint pool. Be like the man who always says, “Is that so?” You don’t have to be inconsiderate of the feelings of the person complaining. Just don’t fuel the fire by adding your own complaint, or passing theirs on.
  • Have patience with yourself in this process. It is a habit and it will take time to replace complaining with healthier alternatives.

I am sharing this with you because it is something that I am working on myself. And I am sharing this with you because I am hoping to affect positive change for myself and anyone else who wishes to enjoy life as it is – not as we think it should be. I believe that stepping off of the “complaint wagon” is a major step in the right direction. I don’t want to be so busy complaining that I miss the blessings.


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