Families, communities, and nations are happier and better off without complaints. Complaining has become an epidemic in American families and in our nation. It seems that everyone has a complaint, but no one wants to deal with the problem behind the complaint. There are lots of reasons why people complain, but all of them are negative and none of them are good or necessary.
If you want to stop the complaining in your family, you must be proactive and do something about the complaints and the complainers. Donna Jones gives ten reasons why people complain and suggests some ways to stop the complaints.
1. Laziness…. Complaining is not just expressing dissatisfaction…. Complaining is the lazy person’s response to dissatisfaction…. Pinpoint the frustration behind the complaint, and put a realistic plan into action to solve the issue….
2. Habit. Complainers fall into three distinct categories: the chronic complainer, the venter complainer, and the constructive complainer. The chronic complainer does so out of habit … and rarely aware they are complaining…. If you suspect your family complains out of habit, conduct a one-week experiment of your own. Start with yourself…. [Jones suggests putting an elastic band on your wrist and change the band to the opposite wrist each time that you catch yourself complaining. I believe that murmuring to oneself is a form of complaining.]
3. Unrealized Expectations. Unrealized expectations leave us disappointed…. But when disappointment turns into dissatisfaction, complaining is usually not far behind…. If we keep our expectations realistic, it’s easier to keep our complaints from going ballistic.
4. Entitlement. Closely related to complaints that originate from unrealized expectations are complaints that stem from entitlement. However, there’s a subtle difference between the two. An expectation is based on something we want…. But entitlement is based on what we believe we deserve…. An entitled complainer finds it nearly impossible to stop complaining, because they believe they have a right to what they don’t have, or can’t have. This is why the most common complaint from an entitled person is “That’s not fair!” [If you hear that phrase, you may have the answer to why you are hearing complaints.]
5. We’ve Failed to Cultivate Gratitude. Grateful people rarely complain. Ungrateful people almost always complain. What makes an individual fall into one camp, rather than the other? … its their perspective. Complaints stem from negative circumstances – real or perceived. Gratitude stems from positive circumstances – also, real or perceived…. Grateful people intentionally focus on what they do have, rather than what they don’t have…. If your family is prone to complain, practice making these gratitude phrases part of your daily routine: “I’m so glad that…” “We’re so blessed that…” “I love it when…” “We’re making a memory!”
6. It Gets Results. If we suspect our family complains more than they should, it could be that we’ve set up a family system where complaining gets results…. The fastest way to stop a complainer is to stop the benefits of complaining.
7. Bonding. We’ve all heard the adage “misery loves company.” It makes us feel better to know we aren’t the only one who suffers…. [A] common complaint creates a common connection. Complaining doesn’t create healthy connections, but it does bond people. This connection – as unhealthy as it is – can drive us to make complaining a way of life, if we are unaware of its effects.
8. We’re Maxed Out. Is your family overscheduled? Overwhelmed? Overworked? … God created us as spiritual, emotional, physical, and social beings. If we’re out of whack in one area, it automatically bleeds into the others. Families who run on empty are more apt to complain….
9. To Excuse Poor Performance. No one likes to fail, but when we don’t take personal responsibility for poor performance our likely response is to blame something, or someone, else. Deflected blame often shows up in complaining….
10. Everyone Does It. … Choosing not to complain, even when others do, marks us as children of God, sets us apart from the way our warped generation behaves, allows us to be light in the midst of a dark world, and makes the message of Christ winsome – especially to our family members….
There are numerous reasons why a family member may choose to complain. Since most of us do not enjoy listening to complaints, we must take steps to stop the complaining. An important step is to recognize what a complaint is and if we are complaining. A second step would be to stop rewarding the complaints – either in ourselves or others. Once we recognize complaints and stop rewarding them, we would be wise to investigate the reason behind the complaint.
I live with a chronic complainer, and I hate the negative feeling that complaining brings. I appreciate this list of reasons and some suggestions on how to stop the complaining. I even printed the list in order to have it with me for guidance. I encourage you to read the full article, so that you will have all the information presented by Jones. I know that we can strength our families, communities, and nations by stopping the complaints.