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It’s perfectly healthy and normal to blow off a little steam by venting when things get stressful, right? Normal, yes. Healthy, not so much. Here’s why I think venting or complaining might be keeping you “stuck” right where you are.
Venting Creates More Venting
While it might make you feel better in the moment, venting may be creating more of what you don’t want in your life. “We attract what we want to our lives because we instruct our attention to look for things that support our emotional outlook,” writes Dr. Srini Pillay, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in his book, The Science Behind the Law of Attraction. When we allow our emotional outlook to remain stuck in venting or complaining mode, we can’t help but find more things to complain about. This takes our focus off what we want and keeps it on what we don’t want, bringing us more of the same. Plus, the more you hear yourself complain, the more you will think of yourself as a person who complains all the time. And that’s not the person you were meant to be.
Quit Complaining, Cold Turkey
Here’s how I quit my chronic venting/complaining habit. I was having a particularly stressful work day. A catalog deadline was fast approaching, and I’d gotten into the habit of complaining to my nearest coworker about the minutiae of catalog layout. On my way back to my desk after talking with her, it hit me that I didn’t feel any better after venting about it. In fact, I felt worse, because I’d just heard myself rant about something completely trivial.
I made up my mind right then to quit complaining, to see if I felt any better. And the stress instantly began to lift. Within a few days, I felt a huge difference. My husband did, too. Since I wasn’t getting wound up about things at work, I wasn’t bringing as much stress home. It freed up my energy to focus on bigger and better things.
And here’s the crazy part: I’d been a complainer for ages (sincere apologies to friends and family who were too kind to point out that I was sharing the negative vibes too freely). It had become a habit I didn’t even think about. But the feeling of not complaining anymore is so wonderful, I never want to pick the habit back up again. I like the new, non-venting me a whole lot better. The more I try to focus on the positive instead, the better I feel, and the more positive “stuff” I attract to myself.
If you’ve been a habitual venter too, you will be amazed by how much this simple change can improve your life. Once you give it a try, you’ll never look back.
When Venting Resurfaces
Everyone has the occasional bad day, and I can’t pretend I haven’t had setbacks. The old complaining me surfaces every once in a while, and when it does I’m left with the same yucky feeling that reminds me why I don’t want to stay in venting mode.
The quickest way to stop yourself from complaining is to look for something in the situation to be grateful for. This might require some creative thinking, but there’s always something. I sometimes get annoyed when my husband leaves the empty wrapper from his tea on the countertop. I could dwell on how annoyed this makes me, or I could think about how great it is that he likes to support his health by drinking tea. As corny as that sounds, it makes me smile and I can move on without any lingering negative feelings about it.
It might feel weird at first, but it gets easier the more you practice. Plus, you’ll attract good situations to yourself, rather than more situations to complain about, and that’ll help move you closer to your goals!
If you find yourself wanting to complain about the same thing over and over, pay attention to that feedback. It might be a sign that you might need to make an even bigger change.