JAKARTA — Whether consciously or not, people often complain. Starting from the smallest things such as traffic congestion, colleagues we don’t get along with or mistakes made by family members.
It’s not easy to stop, however, as people have a tendency to see the negative side of a situation.
Psychologist Scott Bea said no one actually liked to hang out with a complainer.
“We tend to focus on things that are not right, rather than attending to all of the rightness around us,” Bea said as quoted by Cleveland Clinic.
Another psychologist, Susan Albers, echoed the notion.
“Complaints can be like viruses; it’s important to stay away from complainers,” Albers said.
Here are seven strategies to end your habit of complaining, as compiled by Kompas.com.
1. Step back and see the bigger picture
Try to see what you are complaining about with a broader perspective. Will it still matter to you in five minutes, five months or five years?
2. Look deeper
Take the time to evaluate your complaint seriously.
“What is the real issue? Does the small thing irritating you represent a theme or larger issue in your life that should be addressed?” Albers asks.
You could spend about five minutes to really look at your complaints and write them down. This way, you may find out what it is that really pushes your buttons.
3. Make a game of it
You can use objects, such as rubber bands or bracelets to quantify complaints. These bracelets could be worn. Every time you notice yourself complaining, move the bracelet to the other side. This may physically illustrate how much you are actually complaining and evaluate ways to reduce your tendency to be negative.
“The goal is to go 30 days with your rubber band or bracelet on the same wrist,” Bea said.
4. Choose the right channel
Be wise in choosing who you share information or complaints with. Stick to friends or family via email or telephone, for example. Never air your negativity on social media.
“Never complain on Facebook!” Albers said.
5. Communicate valid concerns
Some complaints may address a genuine need that could lead to a solution.
“The key is to share your complaint in a kind way that is seen as helpful and not critical,” Albers said.
6. Find the positive aspects
When you have a complaint, it is a good idea to deliver it by starting and ending with a positive. Otherwise, people may be closed off to it and completely miss your message.
“You might say, ‘I love when you get groceries. Next time, please let me know before you leave, and I’ll send you my list. It’s so helpful when we work together,’” Albers suggested.
It is suggested to avoid the word “but”, as it could wipe away the positive.
7. Practice gratitude
It’s important to remind yourself each day about one thing you’re grateful for, no matter how small.
“If negativity has become a habit, keeping a nightly gratitude journal can start to turn the tide,” Bea said. “It forces us to think about what we’re grateful for in our lives.”
Smartphone gratitude apps could also help put this into practice.