How to Stop Complaining

February 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Personal Development

StopThis one will work wonders for you and the people around you. If you stop complaining, you will notice that you will focus less on the negative and more on the positive side of life. Of course, the people around you will notice this too. By complaining you raise your own stress level. You’re saying “something is wrong” and your body reacts with stress. Complaining is harmful for you and the people around you.

One way to begin on the road to no complaining is described in a great book by Will Bowen: A Complaint Free World. The idea is to put a wristband around your left or right wrist. Now each time you complain or think a negative thought you change the wristband to the other wrist. The goal is to go for 21 full days without changing that wristband.

Learning Phases
On your journey towards 21 days without complaining, you will go through the four typical phases of learning:

  1. Unconscious incompetence
  2. Conscious incompetence
  3. Conscious competence
  4. Unconscious competence

Before you begin you will probably think that you don’t complain that much, so 21 days without complaining should be relatively easy (unconscious incompetence). After a while you’ll find out that you have to change your wristband more often than you thought you would (conscious incompetence). Then you will find out new ways to handle situations and learn how not to complain (conscious competence). And someday you won’t need the wristband anymore, because you’ve trained yourself not to complain anymore (unconscious competence).

A Contest?
Most people will recognize the following situation. You are talking with a group of friends or colleagues and someone starts complaining about the weather or about the heavy traffic. Other people will start trying to top the last complaining (“That is nothing compared to what I went through this morning!”.) Instead of joining in this contest of complaining, sit back and observe. And don’t try to change other people. If you have to do something about the situation, try to steer the conversation to a different subject. There are ways to keep a conversation going without complaining.

Stick to the Facts
All this doesn’t mean that you can’t point out if something is not right. In that case, just stick to the facts. If you just ordered hot soup and it is served cold, you can make that clear to the waiter. But there are several ways to do this. If you complain about it (“How dare you to serve me cold soup?”) you probably made your point, but will it motivate the waiter the do a better job the next time food is served? Probably not. If you stick to the facts (“This soup is cold, could you please warm it up?”), you made your point with respect towards the waiter.

Gossip
No complaining also means no gossiping. You can still talk about others. But when talking about others, only say something when you can say something positive. And only say something you would also have said (in those exact words) if that person was with you in the room right now.
If you can’t say something nice about someone else, then don’t say anything.

One of the main reasons for gossiping or complaining is to make us look better by comparing us to someone else. That’s bragging and no one likes people who brag. Furthermore, you wouldn’t notice ‘faults’ in others if you didn’t recognize those same points in yourself. An example of this is the people who ordered the purple wristbands mentioned in the book by Will Bowen for people around them, because they felt that those people complained more then they did. To notice something in someone else is the first step to recognizing this in yourself – the first step from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence.

Be the Change
You might feel tempted to stop other people from complaining, but that’s no use. You can’t change someone else, only yourself. People change because they want to change. The best way to inspire change is to practise what you preach. Be the change you want to see in the world. You cannot treat others better than you treat yourself.

By complaining you make yourself a victim and victims do not become winners. You’re free to choose what you want to be. By changing your thoughts to gratitude and solutions, you attract more of what you do want. That’s the Law of Attraction in action. You can’t control everything in life and complaining doesn’t change the situation.

If you don’t have a wristband, think of other things you can do to trigger yourself to notice when you are complaining or thinking negative thoughts. Try this out and notice for yourself what impact it has on you and the people around you.

Have fun!

Gerber

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Comments

8 Responses to “How to Stop Complaining”
  1. Tasha says:

    I think changing the wristband everytime you have a negative thought isn’t such a good way to approach this…
    Instead,if you just stop voicing or writing your complaints,the negative thoughts will cease over time.
    So I think the wristband should only be changed when you catch yourself saying something bad or writing it down.

  2. Gerber says:

    Hi Tasha,
    Thanks for your comment. That is also a way to approach this. If you can go for 21 days without voicing or writing complaints, maybe you can then try to go for 21 days without negative thoughts. It doesn’t really matter how you approach this, what matters most is that you notice when you’re complaining and that you’re willing to change this.

    Take care,
    Gerber

  3. I found this article helpful when I tried to stop complaining for a week. I had to keep starting over when I caught myself complaining. I can see that at least 21 days are needed to try to break the complaining habit. I did make progress in stopping venting, but I had trouble dealing with difficult situations. I linked to your article when I wrote about it: http://tootimidandsqueamish.blogspot.com/2011/04/it-took-me-only-13-days-to-stop.html

  4. Gerber says:

    Hi Marcy,

    Great article and a great blog. Good luck and have fun with your 101 things in 1001 days!

    Gerber

  5. I love the example of complaining without being hurtful…after all the waiter isn’t at fault for the soup being cold, even if he is…no one ever deserves abuse or punishment for something so trivial…

    I recently recorded a podcast about how to stop complaining as well:

    http://www.shift-your-consciousness.com/how-to-stop-complaining-podcast-36.html

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