Reflect back on the things which have frustrated or upset you this week. What are the things you have complained about? Now consider this. Were any of these things life threatening? Were they in your control? Were they deliberately sent to cause you grief?
Whenever we experience frustration, anger or other negative emotions it is due to the frame which we are viewing the situation through. As I quote from Shakespeare regularly on here: "Nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so". Everything in life is neutral, it is us that decides whether things are good or bad. Taking this to its logical conclusion this means that, if we feel wronged, it is us that has created that for ourselves. So when we experience negative emotions we need to step back and gain perspective. Why do we feel wronged here? How has our thinking created this? How can we change the frame to reduce those feelings? If you can master this process then you will elevate your psychology to new heights and experience the world in a completely different way!
A practice that I recommend to help in this process is engaging with material, whether it be books, podcasts, TV etc, that talks of situations more extreme than your own. This then gives you a different norm to compare your own experience to. Personally I listen to a lot of military podcasts (I highly recommend the Jocko Podcast). hearing the tales from combat situations, both recent and historical, and all the strife that goes with them gives me an easy way of gaining perspective whenever I experience stress or frustration in my day. So my emails have gone down, OK, has anyone tried to kill me today? Have any of my friends been shot? Have I been tortured? OK so quit whinging and get back to it. Simple process, highly effective.
So when you next experience a negative emotion and feel the urge to start complaining about it consider your perspective. How are you viewing this situation? Can you change the frame? Or can you change your comparison? Change the thinking, which changes the feeling, which changes your behaviours.
For bonus points it is also worth considering something referred to as your emotional footprint, or sometimes called the ripple effect. Everything we do in life creates a footprint or a ripple. Now these can be positive or negative and they impact others around us. If we are stuck in a complaining cycle then that footprint/ripple makes those around you more likely to fall into the cycle too. That cycle can keep spinning, repeatedly pulling everyone back into it - which is why many teams or groups find it difficult to break a negative cycle. Think about what footprint or ripple you leave, if it isn't a positive one then you are unlikely to benefit from getting a positive nudge back. If this sounds like a challenge for you try the 21 day no complaining experiment. Wear a band on your wrist and every time you complain swap wrists and start the 21days again. You'll be surprised by how much this changes your experiences.