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Inspiration - Motivation

Why Complaining is Harmful and 4 Healthy Alternatives

We all complain from time to time, and that is normal. When something is wrong it is perfectly ok to express it and complain about it. What is not ok is when complaining becomes more of a habit. We can all think of people who constantly complain and for almost everything. For these cases, there are plenty of reasons to prove why constantly complaining is harmful. Some people unfortunately are born complainers. For them, there are some healthy alternatives to constant complaining that they must take into consideration.

“Solving some problems requires less than half the energy or time it took to complain about them.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Why complaining is harmful

Table of Contents

Why Constant Complaining is Harmful

1. Complaining Increases Stress Levels

When we are expressing a complaint about something we go through the experience that made us feel uncomfortable. In a way, we live again this painful experience which probably caused us a lot of stress. Recalling it in our thought continuously when complaining about it automatically increases our stress levels.

2. Complaining is Harmful for our Physical Condition

Constant complaining has the same effect on our bodies as every other stressful situation. The tension that results from it can become overwhelming. This tension can finally lead to lead in sleepless nights, headaches, increased blood pressure, and finally a bad overall physical condition.

3. Complaining is Harmful for our Mental Health

Repeated complaints are repeated negative thoughts again and again. Doing so has as an outcome more negative thoughts. Constant complaining could be responsible for having a negative impact causing or increasing anxiety and depression.

Related: Avoid Negative Thoughts – Don’t. How to Handle Them

Why complaining is harmful image

4. Complaining is Harmful for Personal Relationships

Friends and loved ones are always there to support us when we have a problem. They are always willing to hear what we have to say and be there for us. However, constantly complaining feels like we take advantage of their kindness. Doing so we use them in a way that negatively impacts their mental health.

Some of them may finally decide to take care of themselves more than listen to us. Especially when they understand that we make no effort to solve our problem. It makes total sense that at some time they will decide to step away from an unhealthy relationship.

“What’s the point of complaining. It just makes the people around you feel bad too.”

Suzanne Brockmann, Out of Control

5. Constant Complaining is Useless and Unhealthy

Complaining means that we state in words something that doesn’t work for us. It might mean that we feel uncomfortable with a person’s attitude, about how others value us, etc. Constantly complaining about something just to let it out there does not provide any solution to the problem. It just makes us feel stressed and overwhelmed over and over again.

Allowing the complaint to come out is healthy and should be done to reveal what we are not ok with. A complaint is a form of revealing what we want but hidden behind a mask. Complaining constantly without clearly expressing what we want or looking for a solution is unhealthy.

focus photography of white mask
Photo by Laurentiu Robu on Pexels.com

6. Complaining is Harmful for our Progress

Complaining can easily become a habit, a bad and addictive habit. It might offer us an illusion of feeling better when doing it but that doesn’t stand. Constant complaining shifts our focus on everything negative. It makes us feel powerless and unable to change the situation. Consequently, we get stuck with everything we have every reason to complain about.

Constant complaining drains our energy and motive for life. It can also kill our creativity and prevent us from thinking of positive alternatives and solutions to our problems. In other words, constant complaining can hold back our progress.

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

7. Complaining Might Make Things Worse

The usual reaction when we all hear a complaint from a person we care about is to provide support. We try to show understanding and sometimes we even agree with his/her arguments.

However, it seems that this kind of reaction is actually encouraging for the person complaining to do it even more. What happens is that this feeling that someone else understands the complaint, although we would think that it is relieving, it actually isn’t.

On the contrary, the feeling that someone else understands the complaint becomes supportive towards the feeling that originally caused it. The person who complained is left even more disappointed than he/she was before.

Related: Identify Victim Mentality – How to Stop Being a Victim

Healthy Alternatives to Constant Complaining

1. Complain in a Constructive Way as a Healthy Alternative to Constant Complaining

If there is a reason to complain we should definitely do so. But, it is important to have in mind how we complain, to whom, and what is that we are trying to achieve with it. Complaining to whoever we find in front of us is meaningless.

On the other hand, complaining about something that bothers us to someone who can actually do something about it is constructive. Thus, constructive complaining is one of the healthy alternatives to constant complaining.

“Complaining is a complete waste of one’s energy. Those who complain the most accomplish the least.”

Robert Tew
Healthy Alternatives to Avoid Complaining

Related: Perception is Reality – 4 Tips to Help You Alter it

2. Focus on Solving the Problem as a Healthy Alternative to Constant Complaining

As is mentioned above a complaint is usually an under-covered desire for something that we would like to be different. What is that desire hidden behind our complaint? Is there something that has to change?

We have to think of what has to be done to solve the problem so as to not have a reason to complain anymore.

We should try to find the answers to all the questions above and focus on working towards whatever satisfies us. In other words, we should shift our focus from the problem to the solution.

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.”

Teddy Roosevelt

3. Practice on Being More Positive as a Healthy Alternative to Constant Complaining

Complaining empowers negativity. As a result, negative thoughts empower and enforce more negative thoughts. Alternatively, we should try to practice being more positive about the way we see life and how we deal with everything. Things are not only black and white in this life.

positivity as a Healthy Alternative to Avoid Complaining
Photo by Binti Malu on Pexels.com

Even though we may think we have plenty of reasons to complain about, we also have lots of reasons not to.  Every time we are ready to complain we can just think of a reason why we should also be grateful. Doing so, we may understand that the reason we wanted to complain was not a big thing after all.

Gratitude and a positive attitude for everything we have and everything we are in life is important. They both are healthy alternatives to constant complaining.

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Related: Choose Joy -5 Reasons to Empower your Choice for Joy

4. Deal With Those Who Complain With Empathy

In most cases, every complaint has a reason behind it. We should not judge a person because he/she complains and should not be sarcastic about it. It would be better if we try to understand rather than agree or encourage it. The moment a person makes a complaint it is a huge problem for him/her.

Empathy and understanding do not necessarily stop the other person from complaining. What they do accomplish is to stop encouraging it. Hopefully, this way they will not continue complaining endlessly.

Conclusion on Why Complaining is Harmful and 4 Healthy Alternatives to Constant Complaining

Complaining is normal and when expressed in a constructive way is indeed a healthy reaction. Constant complaining about everything on the other hand can prove to be toxic to yourself and the people around you.

It is bad for your physical and mental health. It could also destroy your personal relationships without actually offering anything. Complaining can drain your motive for life and your feelings of happiness. It can also take away your creativity and your ability to have fun and enjoy life.

Healthy Alternatives to Constant Complaining- fun
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Complaining constructively as the first step when trying to find a solution is important. When complaining becomes a bad habit, it becomes a problem we must address. After all, complaining without the will of looking out for a solution is meaningless.

“See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Related: Appreciate Difficulties – 5 Reasons Why You Should

37 thoughts on “Why Complaining is Harmful and 4 Healthy Alternatives”

  1. What an interesting post. Except you are doing something about it or letting go, constant complaining is just whining… thanks for that.

  2. This is a really great post Eri. It actually resonates well with me this week. I had to ask my manager to speak with someone in work this week as the person in question was spending all day complaining and it was really bringing me and others down. I imagine it’s putting a huge strain on her too. I agree that complaining takes way more energy amd time than finding a resolution for the problem.

    1. I can totally understand you Vourneen. When I was working I had some colleagues who were complainers. It was exhausting just to be around them. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience and thoughts on it!

  3. In Compassion-Focused Therapy the concept of complaining is seen as a request for or expression of a need for stable attachment. Complaining is viewed as a form fo disorganized attachment, the person wants a sense of safety and care in a relationship but doesn’t know how to get it, or doesn’t trust it when it’s offered, or doesn’t recognize it when it’s offered due to unhealthy attachment during early childhood development, which is pretty much never the child’s fault. Yet we ostracize people who complain, making their loneliness and fear worse. Hearing someone complain can be a burden, but investing a little time in finding a healthy wayt o love them within boundaries might over time actually solve the deeper need beneath the stated need, rather than just shunting the complainer off into a “socially unacceptable” box that only exacerbates the problem and perpetuates the problematic behavior.

    1. I can understand this and I do believe that there are always also other issues hidden for those who constantly complain. Your comment is enlightening to me. I can recall specific examples of people that totally relate to this. Thank you very much for contributing to this conversation and sharing your knowledge!

  4. This is honestly so relevant right now. Constant complainers drive me MAD
    I had a boss tell me once, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem” and I always remember that and try to stay positive and solution focuses. Awesome post.

  5. I find people who are incessant complainers, who don’t really have a reason to be so are such an emotional and mental drain. If it was a genuine concern then I would be supportive, etc but anyone who just oozes negativity then I tend to avoid them. It’s quite a toxic trait and I think we could all do with less of that in our lives.

    1. Oh yes Molly! I can think of specific people who are constant complainers without any serious reason. They are exhausting to be around and have a negative impact in my mental health. I also try to avoid them. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  6. Gosh, this made me think of a couple I heard talking at a local bar here in Italy. They were Brits who had a holiday home here (no longer I should say). They did nothing but complain continually all the way through their coffee, loudly and going from one thing wrong to something else without pause. I actually wanted to bang their heads together! I agree constructively and assertively pointing out that something is wrong and suggesting a solution is the way to go if you do have to complain. Great post.

  7. Love this so much! If you can’t or aren’t going to change the situation, there is no need to complain.

    You offer some great alternative solutions.

    I recently read this book by Dr. Kathleen Smith called Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer your Insecurities, Interrupt your Anxieties and Finally Calm Down.

    While this is focused on Anxiety, it is sooo relatable to complaining. I did a review on this book if anyone should be interested. https://findingthefearlesslife.com/2021/10/19/book-review-everything-isnt-terrible-by-dr-kathleen-smith/

  8. Here is food for thought! I complain less than I used to, so I know how poorly complaining makes me feel and act. Your best tip is to treat people who complain with empathy; it helps diffuse the negativity of the situation and re-introduce some hope into the person’s life.
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wonderful post. You made some great points regarding complaining. It’s so vital to recognize whether our expressions are complaints or sharing what’s bothering us. When things are not changed we can become discouraged and complaining can be a lot easier for us. To have change we have to do our part because complaining does not change anything. Thank you for sharing. ☺️

    Pastor Natalie
    Letstakeamoment.com

  10. Great tips! This was a great reminder for me as I often fall into the trap of complaining. Thank you for the solutions. 🙂

  11. This is so well written. I really liked your points about complaining being addictive, the more I do it the more I feel like doing it for sure.

  12. This post is refreshing because the art of complaining is lost. There are some valid pointers here to take away:
    – communicate the grievance to the right person
    – this can be a challenge but simply choosing more positive words
    – communicate the outcome required

  13. Once you get into that mindset, it’s hard to get out. I used to be a major complainer, now when I catch myself doing it I have to take a step back and remind myself that not only is it harmful to me, but those around me.

  14. I think that it’s one of those things that are easy to understand (that it’s bad and kind of pointless), but really hard to change. But we really should, but sometimes we need to vent too. Great tips though 🙂

  15. This is a great and helpful post. Complaining causes more problems than solutions. It makes us petty, inconsiderate, and unrelatable. Thank you for sharing this information.

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