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Should We Feel Guilty About Complaining?

With so much going on in the world these days, it is easy to block the negativity and become wrapped in our own problems. But do we complain too much, and should we feel guilty as a result?

First-world problems

These past couple of years seem like one international disaster after another. While Australia has witnessed droughts, floods, and raging bushfires, other countries have seen famines, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Meanwhile, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and many worldwide are facing abject poverty and economic crises.

This is even before we mention the COVID-19 pandemic that swept across the world,  causing the deaths of millions, keeping families apart, and irreparably changing the lives of many more.

So why do we complain so much about trivial matters? Whether this is a postponed holiday, the lack of a favorite item at the supermarket, or the rescheduling of our favorite TV show – although these are all things that we may find ourselves moaning about, do they really matter, and should we feel guilty for doing so?

At My Mind News, we have a top tip for avoiding over-the-top complaining. If you find yourself aggrieved, frustrated, or resentful and need a good moan, set a time limit, allowing just 10 or 15 minutes to get it out of your system. To bring the matter full circle, allow an equal amount of time to focus on a solution, so you might start to move forward and fix the problem.

Is it right to feel guilty about complaining?

It is all far too easy to have a winger while simultaneously overlooking the hardship and tragedy befalling others around the world. However, experts say you should not feel guilty for complaining about such trivial matters.

Remember to tell yourself that just because someone has it worse than you, it doesn’t mean you’re not deserving of kindness, care, or empathy. It is essential to realize these three responses are not limited resources, and there should always be enough to go around.

According to psychology experts, there are actual benefits in talking through problems with a friend, and this should never be perceived as ‘off-loading’ By having a moan to someone, we are actually being heard and understood, which both provide the reassurance our mental health needs at the crucial time.

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Knowing that we are not alone can be of great comfort in stressful times. When we vent to someone we trust, their response usually validates our feelings. Furthermore, our moans are often met with thoughts of shared frustration and general agreement.

All emotions, both positive and negative, have their place. Even when you might feel overwhelmed with frustration and disappointment, people are generally better off if they acknowledge uncomfortable feelings rather than trying to block them out.

In the meantime, remember that repressing painful emotions doesn’t make them disappear. Frustration can build up over time and lead to enhanced levels of feeling that can have the potential to boil over into one’s everyday life.

Is there a right way to complain?

Can there be an acceptable way to complain? The short answer is yes. However, if you find you’re doing all the talking, you’re complaining the wrong way.

Complaining is just as much about listening as it is about getting a negative feeling or response off your chest. When we’re doing it (complaining) well, we’re open to feedback, which can help us take a different perspective or perhaps solve a problem.

Conversely, complaining can quickly become a ‘pity party’ when it’s done with a rigid, narrow-minded, and closed-off mindset. If people are stuck in a point of view and are trying to enlist someone else’s sympathy, that can compound the person’s stress and that of the listener.

Break the complaint cycle

If you find yourself constantly complaining, you could be dwelling on your problems rather than solving them.

One strategy to escape a damaging cycle of negativity and complaining is to employ a short-term distraction. This might be as simple as engaging in physical exercise. Such activities can provide us with an endorphin rush as well as other stress-relieving properties. In return, these can help break the cycle of complaining and rumination, even if just for the duration of a 30-minute jog.

Another method is to shift your attention to other, more positive things in your life. Some people go as far as to undertake a gratitude exercise at the end of each day, focusing on three things that went well that day.

Dealing with the guilt of complaining

To process the onset of guilt that complaining about seemingly trivial issues can bring, try to channel that energy into action rather than guilt. Rather than dwell on what hasn’t gone your way, think about what you can do instead.
After all, it always makes us feel bad when we dwell on the negative. But when we think about it as an opportunity to contribute to our environment, community, or society in some way,  or how we might change things for the better, such seemingly negative feelings can turn the whole situation into a positive one.
Do you feel like you complain too much? How do you deal with such feelings? Let us know in the comments.  

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