Complaining – Helpful or Harmful?Monica Myers
Are you addicted to complaining?
At times I know that I am.
Recently I was scheduled with a PA that works my opposite days.
When I became aware of this I began looking forward to the shift because I knew that we had some of the same experiences at a particular clinic.
I was excited knowing we would be able to have a bitch session and validate my frustrations.
I was right, and we let the complaints fly. We didn’t hold anything back.
At first, it felt cathartic, but then I realized that all we were doing was dragging ourselves down.
It felt good at the moment, but it didn’t solve any problems and left me feeling more depressed than when we started.
Why do we love to complain, and why is it so addicting?
Complaining feels important.
It makes us feel connected, as though we are fighting against a common enemy.
We feel like we are accomplishing something important.
Sometimes we want to be heard.
By complaining, we feel as though we are shifting blame or are absolving us of responsibility for finding solutions.
When we complain, we evade accountability for the issue.
We dodge the expectation that we should make improvements. Complaining keeps us focused on the problem rather than on solutions.
If we spend too much time complaining, we can work ourselves into a place of resignation, sheer rage, or feeling stuck rather than motivated to change.
How do we break the habit of continual and contagious complaining?
The first thing to do is recognize what we are doing and notices how it makes us feel.
At the end of my complaining session, I noticed that I felt worse than before.
I felt defeated and hopeless.
Become aware of our complaining habits, but don’t get mad at ourselves. Don’t judge ourselves.
We don’t need to need to interrupt our complaining initially.
Just pay attention to our thoughts and feelings while in the mists of our internal or external complaining.
Once we recognize the behavior, we will gain leverage over it.
Next, make conscious decisions to determine if complaining is severing you or not.
Once we have done a self-evaluation and determined how we will react to our complaining, the next step is to intentionally decide ahead of time how we respond to the complaining of those around us.
I like to handle this by listening without contributing to my own story, not rewarding the unwanted behavior, without adding my judgment or frustration.
Doing it with understanding and compassion, internally acknowledging how difficult things are—knowing how easy it is to complain.
What we water will grow.
Without encouragement and validation, the conversation will die.
When the tool of listening alone is not doing the trick, the power redirection is a great tool.
We might say, “Yeah, that sounds totally frustrating,” or “I get it.”
Then move on in a different direction, like
“Did you hear how great my patient did?” “I can’t believe how appreciative my last patient was?”
“Did I tell you about my fun plans for this weekend?
“I learned a new way to handle that problem” or
“Here’s a blog I’ve been
or podcast I’ve been listening to have really help me deal with my issues related to burnout.”
Redirecting to the positive or to solutions is a simple way to escape the complaining trap.
The final tool to combat the negativity of complaining is the direct approach. There is nothing wrong with saying,
“Oh man, you know what?” “I love you, but I can’t listen to this right now. I am trying to focus on the positive”
Or “I appreciate what you are going through, but this is making me feel bad, and I can’t be the one.”
Telling the truth is very empowering.
I will take the challenge to break the complaining habit and build habits that uplift me, keep me focused on the things that are going right, and find solutions for things that are not going right.
Try breaking up with the complaining habit and see how you feel.
You might start feeling better and could find solutions to defeat burnout.
My name is Monica Myers. I am a Physician Assistant and an Advanced Certified Life Coach.
I help Healthcare Professionals overcome burnout. If you are dealing with burnout, DM me or email me. Let’s chat.
Check out my website