Quit Complaining

Episode #138

Complaining can feel good in the moment. We feel we just need to vent a little. However, what happens when we take it too far and it becomes a habit? Can it possibly effect our health? Listen in to find out. More resources at claudinesweeney.com and mindoverchaos.com.


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Complaining can feel good in the moment. We feel we just need to vent a little. However, what happens when we take it too far and it becomes a habit? Can it possibly effect our health? Listen in to find out.

You’re listening to the Rise up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids. We have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So, tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright.

Hello everyone welcome back on this fine Wednesday. So, I want to start us off today with an interesting study coming out of Stanford says complaining or even being complained to for 30 minutes or more can physically damage our brain. That was interesting. Are We okay if we only do it for 29 minutes, apparently complaining, we all do it right?

We all tend to do it sometimes more than others, especially when there’s a lot of stress added on. Um, but complaining, we wanted to talk about this today because it really influences our lives and our relationships and our overall wellbeing. And some studies have shown that we complain between 15 and 30 times a day out loud, which makes me wonder how many times we complain in our heads. Like I do it a lot. I feel like the last four days, all I’ve done is complain about the heat. I do not like it when it gets over 100 and I’ve been running errands and been out and about and I’ve just been complaining about it like a lot, not, probably 30 minutes in a day, but definitely 30 minutes and four days. But then that’s just one thing and there’s so many things right that we complain about traffic, our kids spouse work, boss in laws. So many things… drivers. Yeah. The list goes on and on. We complain a lot. We do and complaining is wishing for things to be different but doing nothing about it.

We express our dissatisfaction with life, and it feels good. It’s like a release. It’s kind of, it’s like the distant cousin of blaming, which we talked about last week. It’s a way to release and not feel these emotions that we don’t want to feel. So, it’s just so much easier to complain, right? Like it’s just so hot, so hot. I can’t stand this heat. Good. Yeah. Yeah. I can’t control how hot it is outside, but I can complain about it right? And complaining is also a way that we connect with other people. You know, I have a couple friends that don’t like this heat either. So, it’s like, can you believe it? It’s over 100 again. And so we connect on that and it is a way that people connect, they kind of like comrades and well like um, camaraderie and complaining right there you go and like you said complaining, there’s a sense of release when we do that and essentially there is complaining actually releases the stress hormone of cortisol now, Cortisol puts our body in fight and flight, it’s a matter of survival.

And so, when we’re in that state then we’re more emotional and the thoughts that we’re focusing on what we’re complaining about will feel what we’re feeling right. And so, we want to be really careful about that because then we tend to think more negative and just feeling negative in our spirit. And when we focus on the complaining and all the negative, like you said, that’s what expands. So, if we focus on what we don’t want or we keep complaining about all the things that are going wrong, guess what? That’s what we’re going to see. That’s what we’re going to draw our attention every time. And we’re going to see more and more of it. And it just kind of grows are complaining muscle and it becomes our default way of thinking. And um one of the things too that I read too when I was researching this is that how you said it impacts our brains. It does it shrinks our hippocampus and in case you’re not aware the hippocampus is the center where we do problem solving and have intelligent thoughts and creativity.

So, we don’t want to damage that part of our brain, right? I don’t need to be any less of a problem solver intelligent in my life. I want to be as intelligent and creative as possible. So, complaining will shrink that part of our brain. Oh yeah and we’ll have much less capacity to figure out solutions to any of the problems that we might be facing or stress even just daily stress we complain about all the time. I mean mom I can complain about the kids, you know not sleeping or not wanting to go to bed or eating again. Yeah, again or not liking any dinner, I make so many things or our husbands or family, you know there’s so many things that we can focus on and I remember even with um drivers, I remember complaining about drivers all the time and eventually I was like wait a minute, I don’t like how I feel right, so maybe I’ll kind of stop you know complaining when I’m driving or red lights, that’s a big one actually behind you. Claudine. My daughter drew a little comic of me throwing my hands up in the air, why do I always hit red lights, but we do but then we don’t feel good right?

We don’t necessarily feel good unless when it’s in a social setting we do kind of feel good in the moment. But again, it keeps us stuck feeling those feelings, right? Like I remember even talking with you and I was overwhelmed, I was feeling really overwhelmed and this was I think during the virtual school and I was just complaining and complaining of how overwhelmed I am and all the things that’s causing me to feel overwhelmed and you asked a really great question, I thought you said now you’re focusing and saying that you’re really overwhelmed. Do you believe that that could be fueling that feeling of being overwhelmed and it was just eye opening. Oh yeah, I was because I was in that fight or flight, being in that state, my creativity, my problem solving was you know, limited because my hippocampus had been reduced, right? But it’s reversible.

That’s the beauty. Absolutely, yeah. It’s not lasting damage. And another thing with complaining is that it really shows a lack of self-esteem, right? It’s like we need validation from others, we need attention from others, and we complain. We’re seeking that validation and attention from others. And so really, it’s a reflection of a lack of self-esteem because when we’re at peace within, when we are validated just on our own, we don’t need to complain. Like I don’t really need to complain. We see the meaninglessness, meaninglessness, meaninglessness of complaining say that three times fast, right? And you know what happens when we complain And I this was eye opening again to me is that I was focused on myself, I was focused on myself, I was not focused on helping others. I was not showing up even as a good friend because I was kind of just becoming this complainer, you know, and we’ve all been around somebody and it just seems like they’re complaining all the time and you kind of want to distance yourself from them and sometimes we can get there and be announced right to us.

We can get there just if we’re dealing with a lot of stress or frustration and like you said with the confidence, if we are feeling more confident, you know and we have a higher self-esteem and we’re feeling more at peace, you won’t feel the need to complain as often. And also, we can show up well for our friends for other people, which I think is what we truly desire. I agree. I think that’s such a key to when I spend time with people. I hope I leave them a little better off than when they saw me. That that’s always been my thing and of course we have different friends and we have times where we need to vent and express them dissatisfaction and we did a whole episode on complaining versus venting and there is a time and place for that, but when it becomes a pattern in our conversations with others, I remember years ago I used to walk with a woman in my neighborhood and every time I would come back, I guess I was really down and finally after a few weeks my husband was like, you know, I don’t think you should walk with her anymore when you come back, you’re really negative and mopey and I didn’t realize it, but if she was basically complaining for the half an hour, we’re walking, it was impacting me and I was just taking it all in and then it would just color my perspective as well and I’d come home and be grumpy and so complaining doesn’t only affect ourselves and our brains, but we really heard other people that have to sit and listen to it right over and over and over.

And again, I’m not talking about one vent session with your best friend where you need to clear the air, you know, unburden your heart or whatever. But this is this constant complaining and I personally have such a low tolerance for that now, the stage in my life, I’m just like do something about it, don’t, you know? Yeah, Yeah, that’s right. And I think about that passage in the scripture where Jesus asked the paralytic at the pool, he said, do you want to get well? And sometimes when people are stuck in complaining, they don’t really want to get well or actually doing fine, just complaining about it, they actually don’t want to grow. They don’t want to overcome it. And also, if I can add to that, you know, speaking for myself as well as others, um, sometimes we don’t believe there can be changed, you know, not just that we don’t want to, but sometimes we feel hopeless that nothing is getting better because we know when you look on the grand scheme of things, okay, there’s the ebbs and flows in life, there’s a 50 50 life is 50 50 there’s going to be 50% negative experiences, 50% positive experiences.

We know that logically than when we’re stressed out or overwhelmed or were overburdened or frustrated and we’re kind of running that way and our hippocampus has reduced a bit, then we’re stuck in that place and we may not see that, oh, we can get out of this or how to get out of this, right? Because we’re just stuck in it. I agree. And the truth is we want to rise up and shine right? We want to be able to find peace despite our circumstance, despite things not going the way we thought they should go or the way we wanted it to go because really when we complain, it’s because some expectations have been missed. And it was funny as I was looking at the scriptures and looking up to find some for this episode, I didn’t realize how many times it referenced people complaining in the violin, I thought, wow, there was, it was a complaining bunch, we’re not alone. I mean from the beginning of time and even the faithful, they’ve, they’ve been complainers and sometimes they use the word grumbling, but other times it’s complaining. And even in John 661, the disciples complained about Jesus is teaching and I thought still true to this day, right, we can find ourselves complaining about the sermon or the lesson or the music choices.

I mean it’s funny, we’re all critics really, we all have our expectations or the way we think things should be. And then when they’re not, we just like to complain about it, but we were not going to find peace that way. Like you talked about it makes us feel miserable and our relationships aren’t going to be as strong and healthy as if we stop complaining and find a more positive approach to discussing our, you know, expectations or lack of things going right well, nor are we going to be healthy, right? Because actually, I mean cortisol in some studies and research has been considered the silent killer. Cortisol is at like sets the tone for a lot of diseases too. And so, when we realize what’s happening internally in our bodies, then it’s a matter of health too. It’s like this is actually a matter of my health about complaining or not complaining and that’s why there’s a reason why there’s psychology of positivity right? Sometimes we feel like, well I’m not a positive person.

I can’t be positive 100% of the time. Nor should we. We’ve also done an episode on toxic positivity but really accepting life the ebbs and flows like I said, as well as just understanding that in our bodies when we are constantly complaining and it’s become a habit, it can increase our risk for depression. It can increase blood pressure. It can cause sleep issues digestive issues like we said, it reduces the hippocampus, right? And that is in charge of even memory and problem solving and creativity. So just really understanding the connection between what we’re focusing on in our minds and speaking out loud even, or even just in our heads, the detriment that it really can cause within ourselves. Yeah, it’s funny just the last few days I thought about all the times and things I complained about. Most of them were silent because I spent, I was alone quite a bit. Um the last few days I’m working, but I so many things in my head, I was complaining about not only the heat, which I’ve said about, I was complaining about my lack of wardrobe, I started realizing I don’t have enough pants and I don’t have enough summer dress.

Yeah, technology. Oh, my goodness. If my computer, if it’s ever slow for like a millisecond, I’m like, what’s wrong with this computer? Computer even right now? Yes, computer could only take one episode, but there’s so many things my body, my hair, like, you know, yesterday I dried my hair and it’s frizzy and normal and I just in my head I thought why is my hair frizzy today? I really don’t have time to de frizz my, you know, it’s just constant right? And even though I’m aware and conscious of my thoughts, I still have to take them captive, right? Still have to grab them and go, nope, nope, nope, nope, we’re not going this way, So Ashley, why don’t we share some practical to help our listeners break the complaining addiction right? Because it can become an addiction. Yeah, absolutely.

Well, the first one obvious one awareness, just observe, observe yourself, speaking what things you focus on in conversation. Um and just really become aware of your topic of choice or topics. Um and you can even write things down, you know, you can even write things down like as a self-reflection of things that you are focusing on complaining about. You know like the heat or your car or the traffic or work or whatever it may be but just gain some awareness because we can’t change anything unless we’re made aware of what might need to change definitely.

The second one which really helps me is focus on what we do have. So, like even with the heat like it really does bother me. It really does wear me out, make me tired but I had to really focus on, I’m so grateful. I have ceiling fans, I’m so grateful. I have an air conditioner that works. I’m so grateful that I have the resources to turn on my A. C. So, as I constantly told my brain that I felt better, and I had to drive a lot the last few days and I have a C in my car. So, it was just constant. Like I’m so lucky because it could, I could not have those things, right? But I chose to focus on those, I had to, it’s like, I mean it really is like going to the gym, it’s an exercise, right?

It doesn’t come naturally to me to think about all the great things that yes, our brains do have a negative bias, right? But um it was a good exercise for me to be thankful for all that I did have despite what it was going on that I didn’t like. So, it’s really important.

The third one is really focus on thought work, right? And so, when you become aware of what you tend to focus on in conversation then decide if you want to choose differently. You know, if you want to think differently, if you want to speak differently, it really has a choice, and you have that power and control to choose your words wisely. You know, we’ve all heard that, but it also takes just catching yourself in the moment because we’re going to slip, we’re going to have those times where we’re just going on and on and on and if when you become aware then you start to realize, oh I think I’m kind of complaining a bit okay, maybe I can distract and divert this conversation to another topic or my husband when I start complaining, he diverts.

Hey, did you know that da da da? And I’m like that’s the cue. I know, oh he doesn’t want to hear me whine and complain, okay and how what a respectful way to change the conversation to kind of switch that but really just when we’re aware again just catch ourselves in those moments. Yeah, I think that’s so important, it’s just the thoughts, it’s all starts there if we want to feel better, we have to think better and if we want to act better, we need to feel better. So, it starts with our thinking and again focusing on gratitude, the awareness, the gratitude and then cleaning up those thoughts so that we can have cleaner emotions and actions and the last one.

The fourth is if you see something, do something. So I have started implementing that when people complain about something especially if they come and complain to me, I will turn around and say and what do you think the solution is that what can you do about that to change it, you know because then it puts it back on the person and last week we talked about blaming and personal responsibility and I feel like if you just want to complain um but you don’t want to get solution focused or ford focus that really irritates me even though I am a master complainer myself when other people do it like it really I’m like uh no, so and the thing with that is if people just want to complain, they don’t really want change then they’re going to stop coming to me because I’m always like so what are you going to do about that?

And so, either they really want to change or like, you know, I thought about that, I could, you know, I could do this or what do you think that’s different seeking input? But otherwise, if they just want to complain all the time, like then they’re not going to be coming to me and I actually did have this situation that happened with someone where they’re not my walker, but someone else and every time I saw him it was just complain, complain, complain. And I finally was like, so what are you going to do about that or are you just happy being this way? Because it seems like you don’t really want to change? Well, they just stopped coming to me and complaining, which was great. I mean it solved two problems really, you know, I’m like, I’m here to help if you really want to change, but if not, then some people aren’t in a place where they’re wanting and that’s okay, like if that is your choice, which is your choice. A lot of us though don’t want to be stuck in that spot, right? Because it does add a lot of added stress that we just don’t need and we want to thrive, we want to live well, we want to enjoy life and it’s hard to enjoy life and live life to the full when we are constantly complaining and there are seasons, you know, there are seasons I know for myself I go through I’m just complaining more and then I kind of have to get myself out of it and start to think more positive and find solutions and but then there’s other times, you know where I’m more positive and things are okay, you know, just have a positive mindset and it’s a little bit easier.

A lot of that again goes with the ebbs and flows and the levels of stress. Right? Virtual school, there’s a lot of complaining going Covid, if we can be totally honest. I think there was a lot of like when the word zoom comes up, right, you can complain about zoom now, right? There are so many things and so it all depends on how you want to live your life; it’s your choice and it really puts that power back on to you to make that happen. You know, Philippians 2:14 says do everything without complaining or arguing. That is such I call it’s so funny because this was a massive one that we used with our Children when they were young. This was like one of our family mottos is do everything without grumbling and complaining. You know, when they were young because we, you know, it was tour time and they yes, right, I’m so glad, I can’t do it. Um, but we would use this all the time and yet what a high challenge. And a high calling to myself as well do everything without complaining and arguing.

I was like oh I complain a lot. So that’s why this episode was really good for us to do because I know it’s something even, I can work and grow on. I’ve grown a ton but there’s always still more room for improvement to really rise up and shine. Always alright everyone. So, we want to put a plug in there if you want to connect with either one of us or get some help in your own personal life. If you feel like you’re just stuck in a rut right now with stress or uh feeling more negative or just not feeling great, then please reach out to us. That is why we are here to help you give you the tools to help you thrive in this life and live your life to the full and rise up and shine be your best self and live your best life so you can check us out Ashley over at MindOverChaos.com and Claudine at ClaudineSweeney.com. So please reach out. We look forward to connecting with you. So that wraps up our episode today and we will catch you next week. Take care.

Alright everyone, thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the Rise Up and Shine podcast. If you haven’t already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button so you never miss an episode and while you’re at it share this episode with a friend who, you know, it can bless today. If you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch Claudine over at Claudine Sweeney dot com and Ashley at Mind over chaos dot com. Our links are in the description. We also have some free resources there for you as well. So, remember ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life.