We find things to complain about all the time, from traffic to our coworkers, and we like to vent the negative. Complaining may feel good in the moment, but it’s a bad habit that’s not really helping. And even worse, psychologist Adam D. Borland explains “Research has shown that repetitive complaining can actually rewire your brain so that negativity becomes somewhat of a default setting.”
Complaining can also keep us from seeing the good, so here’s how to break the habit:
- Before you complain, take a sec - Think about what you can do to improve the situation and understand what’s in your control and what isn’t. That can give you time to come up with a more constructive plan than venting.
- Spot dysfunctional thoughts - Try not to overgeneralize, like “this train is ALWAYS late,” or assume you know what others are thinking. Instead focus on actual evidence and look for proof or lack of it to keep things in perspective.
- Put yourself in someone else's shoes - Instead of unloading about what someone did to you, think about what they’re going through.
- Say thanks - Focus on what’s right in your life and be thankful for it. That “attitude of gratitude” will help you complain less.
- Clean up your vocab - Watch “loaded phrases,” like “should,” “could of,” and “would of” and try to compliment yourself and others more.
- Be a little confrontational - If something is really bothering you or you feel an injustice needs to be settled, speak up. It’s not complaining if you’re being constructive and sharing your feelings.