We all complain about something from time to time and we’re often encouraged to do so if we feel something isn’t right, but where does it get us? Think about the negative effects of complaining and you may reconsider.
Various studies show that around 95% of us don’t complain when there’s a reason to do so. We don’t bother because we think it won’t get a result or that it’ll take up too much of our time and frustrate us even more. But is that good enough?
Surely, if something is wrong with the service we get or we’re dealt a bad deal in some way, it’s best to complain about it? If you’re on the receiving end of it, isn’t this why complaining is good?
Personal Experience of Negative Effects of Complaining
Recently, I was in a restaurant with a group of people, we’d been waiting a long time for our food and it was beginning to annoy us. I summoned the waiter who had told us ten minutes earlier that our food was being plated up and would be out shortly.
I asked, probably in slight angry customer mode, but I think justifiably, where our food was. The waiter then laid into me, telling me not to speak to him like a second-class person, couldn’t I see how busy they were and it’s not his fault the chef was taking more time than usual. Wow!
If it was just me, I would have left immediately, but there were six of us, all hungry and we wouldn’t have time to find another restaurant. The tirade I’d received from that small complaint, made me even angrier than I can remember having been in a very long time. I didn’t enjoy the meal because I was fuming so much.
When we left, I told the waiter that I would never return because of his attitude and he started to lay into me again! I was extremely wound up for the rest of the day and kept going over it in my mind for hours. The waiter probably forgot about the incident as soon as we left. Who suffered most from this episode? I’ll leave you to work that out!
Why Complaining is Bad for Your Health
We complain when we feel wronged in some way and most times it raises our stress levels a lot. Add to that, we usually replay these experiences over and over again in our mind because we’re so annoyed (as I did), so it’s easy to see why complaining is bad for your health.
Take a moment to think of the little things we complain about all the time. Things such as, the weather, the rude shop assistant, the supermarket having run out of bread or your boss criticizing you again. These types of day to day things that cause us to complain, might not necessarily harm your mental health, but they can have a bad effect.
When you start to constantly complain about little things which annoy you, a pattern of behavior will begin to form. This pattern will turn into a bad habit and this is how complaining physically rewires your brain. The subconscious mind is continually receiving negative messages, so this kind of attitude becomes engrained into your persona.
How Complaining Affects Others
It’s worth considering how complaining affects others, because if you’re continually being negative, it will have a knock-on effect. It may be that you bring others down too or they might start to try and avoid you. You could also earn a reputation for being “that kind of person” who’s always moaning about something.
This will come back to you, what you send out to the universe will come back to you. It’s a vicious circle which will ultimately make you feel worse and could cause you to lose your self-esteem. Try to stay positive no matter what.
There is a psychology behind complaining, but it should be done only when its justified and not for petty reasons. None of us likes to be treated badly or get ripped off and if we feel we are, our ego comes into play. It’s a way to protect ourselves and that’s good, as long as it’s measured, respectful and justified. That should earn you respect rather than others labelling you as a moaning Minnie!
Break the Habit
Complaining can rewire your brain for negativity, but only if you do it a lot and continually. If something’s wrong and deserves complaining about, you should do it. Monitor your thoughts to keep a check on how you feel about a situation, is it wrong or is it just me?
Before wading in, collect your thoughts, get the reasons clear in your head, know how you’re going to present your case and above all, try to stay calm. If there’s one way to lose an argument, it’s to lose your temper. Nine times out of ten a legitimate complaint will be dealt with straight away and resolved amicably. When it isn’t, hold your ground but keep calm.
The petty complaints that affect others and define your personality are the ones that should be minimalized as much as possible. Look at things differently, for example if it’s raining, think about how much you’re looking forward to it being sunny again. If you’re all hot and sweaty, don’t complain about how awful you feel, but think about how much you’re looking forward to the feeling you’ll get after a hot bath.
Looking at the positive side of something that you perceive as negative will put a better perspective on your thoughts and feelings and you know how that will affect you and those around you. Once you’re aware of how complaining rewires your brain for negativity (and how to kick the habit), you’ll start to wonder why you were ever complaining in the first place.