"The only thing complaining does is convince other people that you are not in control"
~ Unknown

“The only thing complaining does is convince other people that you are not in control.”
~ Unknown


I found this quote on Pinterest, and loved how it so succinctly defined complaining in a way we can look at this behavior with a bit more objectivity. Of course, what I don’t want to do is “complain” about complaining, or suggest that people shouldn’t complain. Instead, I like to look at how we find ourselves feeling or reacting to life to see if it is something that is truly serving us… something we want to keep doing or change?

According to this quote, complaining may not be serving us because it tells the world that we are not in control, otherwise we would change whatever we are complaining about. Of course, for those of you who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know that the tendency to focus on the negative or complain actually engages the lower 20% of the brain (the brainstem) and triggers stress hormones, such as, cortisol.

In other words, not only does complaining describe us to others as ineffective, it actually makes us less effective by throwing us into the part of the brain that can only react with fight or flight.

I suggest that while we have a right to complain, it may not be serving us. Plus, it’s not how we want to be described/defined, and we wouldn’t recommend it to someone we love. Therefore, I further suggest that we shift from complaining to either acceptance or action. If the situation is truly something we can’t control (traffic, other drivers, the weather, etc.) then acceptance would be a better choice than complaining because it allows us to avoid feeling increasingly powerless and resentful.

If, on the other hand, there is a situation that calls for action or change, let’s summon up the courage to make that change versus just complain about it. Regardless, what we want to do is be more proactive than reactive, and engage life in a way that we would recommend to someone we love. The last thing we want to do is define ourselves as a powerless whiner, because it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill