Nobody likes a chronic complainer, but everybody knows at least a few people who just can’t seem to say anything nice…ever. And if you’re being totally honest, you might admit that, yes, you’ve let a few ungracious comments slip through your lips from time to time as well.
While there are certainly different degrees of whininess, from casual complainers all the way to adult tantrum throwers, life coach and professional consultant Leaha Mattinson confirms that all forms of negative comments are damaging to your well-being and ultimately your entire life.
“Complaining is a truly dangerous habit,” Mattinson, author of Silver Linings: The Essential Guide to Building Courage, Self-Respect and Wellness, said.
“It’s a slippery slope, and once you normalize negative thoughts and words, they get hardwired into the fabric of your life. Before you know it, your energy and outlook are significantly lower than they should be. Furthermore, this behavior affects your loved ones and brings them down as well.”
Mattinson points out that the new year is the perfect time to cast off complaining and negative thinking and adopt healthier habits for coping with life’s inevitable disappointments and setbacks.
“Choosing to stop manifesting negativity in the form of whining and complaining makes a giant impact on your outlook,” Mattinson said. “Suddenly, you’ll feel lighter, more optimistic, and most importantly, capable of handling conflict and setbacks. Once you begin to see real-life results of positive thinking, you’ll realize that this is one resolution you can’t afford to give up on!”
If you’re ready to stop complaining now and create automatic pathways to positive thoughts in 2017, try these five tips from Mattinson that might work.
1. Negative Thoughts Begone
STOP your next negative thought (and all the rest of them, too). Mattinson insists that negative thinking and complaining are habitual behaviors and that habits can always be changed.
First, set the intention in yourself that you want to stop all negative thinking, and hold yourself to this new standard, no matter what. Any time you think a negative thought, or open your mouth to complain, visualize a huge sign in your brain that says “NEXT” and move on. The more you practice this technique, the easier it will be to nix negativity and all subsequent damaging thoughts and actions.
2. Be Open to Other Ideas
Soften your thinking and let in some alternate ideas. Accept that maybe, just maybe, you don’t know everything. Be curious about the problem or disappointment you’re facing and ask more questions from the position of wanting to understand instead of from the position of manipulation to get your own desired outcome.
Whenever you have the urge to complain or think a negative thought, ask yourself these questions: Why am I feeling suspicious/resentful/jealous/etc.? What is really going on here? Am I making assumptions? Am I taking things personally instead of being objective? How can I learn and grow from this?
3. Search for The Silver Lining
Look for the silver lining in negative events. There’s usually an upside to less-than-perfect situations, if you look for it. Anytime you have the urge to complain about an undesired outcome, ask yourself, Could it have been worse? What opportunities have been created as a result of this event?
“My young daughter recently got a flat tire on her car,” Mattinson said. “She was very upset about it at first, but after calling for roadside assistance, she had the problem fixed in about an hour. What she learned, surprise, surprise, is that complaining doesn’t change a flat tire! She calmed herself down. She was able to increase her competence and confidence by learning how to get her tire fixed by herself. I could hear in her voice that—through this experience—she transformed from feeling annoyed and helpless to proud.”
4. Belief in a Higher Being
Think about the situation from a Divine point of view. Tell yourself that the Universe, God, or the Divine is actually taking care of everything. Remind yourself that while you may not understand why something is happening the way it is, all things happen for a reason.
“It’s helpful to accept that sometimes we aren’t meant to know that bigger picture,” Mattinson said. “In times like these, we should embrace the idea that we can positively affect or influence it by remaining patient, accepting the current reality, continuing to do our best, and being excited about whatever is going on, because who knows what amazing things are in store for us. It’s like one big surprise party—enjoy it!”
5. Be Thankful
Practice gratitude by praying or meditating and sending positive, loving energy. When you find yourself in a negative situation, don’t despair and don’t default to complaining. Instead, ask that the situation or circumstance you are experiencing be blessed and for it to be for the good of the whole.
Ask for patience and joy. Ask to be put into a state of reverence and playfulness about the situation. Ask for the grace of happiness. Be thankful and grateful when that state is given to you. It will be, possibly even many times a day if needed. Give love to others, because giving is often the quickest way to creating positive thoughts and life for everyone. So when in doubt, start there.
“You may not make a full transformation overnight, but when you quit complaining, it initiates a dramatic and important change,” Mattinson said. “The choice to let in even a small bit of positivity allows more growth down the road. As momentum builds, you’ll feel your worldview evolving with every day. Stick with positive thoughts, count your blessings, and fight the urge to dwell on the negatives—whether outwardly or internally—and you’ll help guarantee that 2017 is your healthiest and possibly happiest year yet.”