Have you ever met someone who is always complaining? Most of us have at least one “Negative Nellie’ or “Negative Ned” in our life. As it turns out, those who complain a lot have negative thoughts running through their brains most of the time. These negative thoughts compel them to express those thoughts to anyone who will listen. It gets worse – this just begets more negativity. Negativity and complaining are not beneficial to having a peaceful life. The good news is life doesn’t have to be that way!
So how do people end up stuck in the complaining-negativity-more complaining cycle anyway? Complaining doesn’t even feel good…or does it?
The junk food of the mind
Here’s a parallel: Have you ever eaten extremely healthy for a week or more? You felt cleaner inside, lighter, and had more energy. You told people how great it was, and that you didn’t even miss the junk food. Then you had a weak moment, maybe it was stress, or hormones, or you were hungry and that is all that was available so you grabbed some junk food and ate it. Do you remember what it was like? You probably felt bad at first, but you chose not to stop – it was like it had control over you, and as you kept eating junk food, you decided to like it again. Eventually, you even started craving it.
It’s kind of like that when you complain. You can choose to stop, but in those weak moments you cave. Negative thoughts and the resulting complaining are addictive – just like the junk food.
You can quit
Rest assured that, just as with eliminating junk food, you have the power to eliminate complaining. Start with the basics. First, get your negative thoughts under control, and then take full responsibility for the things in your life.
Negative thoughts can be challenging to eliminate. You’ll need to be diligent and patient with yourself. This process will help you stop both the negative thoughts and the complaining:
Resolve to change. Decide in your heart that you want to eliminate negative thoughts from your life. Recognize that they accomplish nothing other than making you (and others!) feel bad. Set a personal goal to turn every negative thought into something positive, or to totally dismiss it.
Recognize negative thoughts when they appear. Notice as quickly as possible that you’re having a negative thought. Stop yourself before you go any further. If you don’t stop, you may start thinking thoughts like, “What’s wrong with me? Why do I always do that?” Simply notice that you are having negative thoughts. Give yourself some grace. The key here is to not dwell on it. Just acknowledge it and move on.
Look for a solution. Always focus on the solution so you can get rid of the source. If you’re thinking, “The yard looks terrible,” then find some short term and long term solutions to make it look better.
The truth is – no matter how much we believe we can multitask, we can really only think about one thing at a time. If you’re focused on solutions, you can’t think about the problem. Once the problem is solved, there’s nothing left to complain about.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but 30 days of conscious effort are enough to instill a new mental habit, or at least get it on the right track. When you’ve done 30 days, shoot for 31! Before you know it, your whole life will feel more positive.
Accepting personal responsibility
Taking personal responsibility for way your react to to the challenges in your life may seem unappealing. After all, who wants to believe that the bad stuff is their own fault? But if you believe you are responsible for your reaction to the challenge, then you can find out the root cause of your reaction and eliminate it. If you blame someone else, you’re just stuck in victim mode. No one wants to go there.
Taking personal responsibility is an immensely powerful thing. This is really the ultimate in freedom. Through taking personal responsibility, you can change anything in your life. Your happiness isn’t dependent on other people or circumstances in general.
We all have a choice. You can choose to wallow in negativity, or you can choose to be positive and pursue the best life you can have.
Ridding yourself of complaining and negative thoughts is hard work and can take some time. However, I can assure you that it is very worth it! By choosing to take control over your negative thoughts, you can focus on solutions. Consequently, your life will improve in many ways, one of which is it will definitely be more peaceful.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.