Five Things I Did To Help Me Stop Complaining
by Rachel Yeoh. |
There was a time in my life (not too long ago) when I was trapped in a complaining cycle. Probably not the best person to hang out with; I was critical of every little thing. I used sarcasm to hide my disapproval and often had forums in my head explaining why some things (events, people, technology, and more) are eye-roll worthy. I thought I was a happy-go-lucky person, but in hindsight, I just had a lot to complain about everything under the sun.
One day, my chronic complaining took a toll on me.
My relationship with others started to suffer; I cried every day, and shopping didn’t even work!
It went on for about a year, and I didn’t even know what was wrong.
I decided to join an online support group. It helped me identify my issue (without me needing to talk or tell anyone about what I didn’t know I was experiencing).
It was my complaining that led me to my downward spiral. My mouth may not communicate my complaint all the time, but the habit of complaining in my head rewired the way I think. The more I complained, the more reason I had to complain more!
It was never-ending.
But okay, enough complaining about my complaining.
I am going to tell you how I get myself out of that rut, and if you feel like you complain a little too much, these easy steps could help you too.
1. I reminded myself to smile
Okay, pretty elementary move.
I used to think that smiling when you don’t feel like it makes you fake. I am not too sure about that now. By forcing myself to smile, I am using my consciousness to rewire my brain. If you do a quick Google search, there are only good things listed when you remind yourself to smile. Smiling spurs the release of dopamine and serotonin, also known as happy hormones.
Note that I am not saying smile when you are angry - no, that will be just freaky. What I did was smile at any opportunity.
For example, smiling when you collect your drinks at Starbucks, although they misspelt your name and called you something else.
When I do that, I replace my inner dissatisfaction with a physical smile. I let the person whom I think wronged me ‘off the hook’. Telling my brain to ‘chill, it’s no biggie’ allowed me to shake things off more easily.
2. I used the bracelet challenge
Most of you, girls and guys, would probably have a bracelet of some sort. Even if you don’t have one, a scrunchie or rubber band is fine.
I used this bracelet challenge as a means to be mindful of my thoughts. After being introduced to it by the facilitator of the online support group, I decided to try it out.
For the next two weeks, I wore my favourite bling-bling bracelet everywhere I went, except in the bath. Yes, I wore it to sleep too.
Every time I catch myself complaining or getting moody, I’ll have to move my bracelet from one wrist to another. Sometimes, I catch myself halfway and - oh great, now I have to relocate my bracelet.
3. I replaced my complaints with gratitude
Your brain is like a house. When you get rid of all the ugly furniture, you need to start putting in nice furniture. I had to unlearn my complaining habit and replace it with thankfulness.
Thanks to the bracelet challenge, I was able to identify my triggers and stop myself from complaining so much. At the same time, I replaced my would-be-complaints with gratitude.
When I am driving, I get worked up when people don’t turn on their indicators and just cut into my lane like it’s their bapa punya jalan.
Instead of, “Oi, don’t know how to use signal ar. This is the problem with Malaysian drivers…” I sometimes tell myself, “Phew, good thing I could step on the brakes on time”.
I can’t help what other people do to me, but I can help the situation with an appropriate reaction.
4. I practised empathy
When I am driving on the road and have to get somewhere really urgently, I drive a little faster, overtaking a car in front of me because it is going too slow. These are the times when I wish I had a note that spells ‘SORRY!’ to the driver.
Alas, I don't.
However, when a car drives like a maniac on the road, I get all fired up - but what if I practised a little more empathy - putting yourself in another person's shoes...
“Maybe someone in the car is sick.”
“Maybe something gravely urgent has come up.”
Maybe we can try a little more empathy.
Not everyone is nice, but when I tried being nicer to people, I realised I was actually being nice to myself.
5. I had an outlet to vent my frustrations
Can I live my life complaint-free?
While complaining is one way to solve an issue, we don’t usually use it as a means to rectify the problem - unless you are running a business.
We are not always satisfied with everything in life. I, for one, have not reached contentment nirvana. But when life is knocking me down, or a coworker is grinding on my last nerve to the point where I cannot shake-it-off like Taylor Swift, I file my complaints to my designated outlet that does not involve a person.
Some people don’t care and they might be looking for a tip to gossip later on (it stings but it happens)
Some people who genuinely care might be emotionally fatigued when bearing that load if you complain too often
However, it is definitely not healthy to pretend it doesn't matter. So when I tak boleh tahan already, I refocus and aim my frustration toward my designated outlet.
It could be anything you are comfortable with. Mine is to pray and journal. I’ll go into my bubble and just let it out. It can be talking to your plushie, recording a video (not for viral purposes), or taking a breeze walk while muttering your discontentment.
But don’t just leave it at that!
I run the process from 1 through to 4 to rectify my trigger points and recalibrate my thoughts.
After practising this for one month, my outlook on life changed drastically. I became calmer and reacted better to circumstances that come my way. There are days when anything that can wrong goes wrong, but having the discipline to go through these steps helped me complain less and practice gratitude.
Having a bad experience in a day does not mean you are having a bad day.
Having a bad day does not mean you are having a bad life.
One step at a time, darlings.
You can find out more about the author on Instagram.