Have you ever complained? About yourselves, about others, about fate, about those who rule society or about the entire Universe?

Complaining is an almost automatic reaction that usually occurs when we find ourselves in stressful situations, when things don’t go or are not the way we want and that magically goes away when we are happy and things seem to go perfectly.

Of course, if we complain, it’s because, if only subconsciously, we expect to obtain benefits such as, for example:

– justifying ourselves;

– letting off steam;

– blaming others;

– attracting attention; 

– not taking responsibility;

– manipulating others by exploiting their sense of guilt.

Let’s be honest, sometimes complaining is a real pleasure!

But how real are these benefits? And what’s the price we pay for this pleasure?

In fact, the real instant benefit we get when we complain is that we temporarily avoid the discomfort or fear of having to face a reality we don’t like. And it’s precisely this relief that gives us that subtle sense of pleasure.

It’s, however, an instant gratification that, sadly, you pay dearly, because avoiding a fear doesn’t make it go away, but rather turns it into a greater fear! Moreover, by not facing reality first-hand, not only will we do nothing to make it the way we want it to be, but our attitude will even make it worse.

To give an example

I am not happy with my salary and I complain to my colleagues about my boss. Result? On the one hand, I feel relieved because I let off steam, drew attention to myself and found a justification for my low salary; on the other hand, I am avoiding having a constructive conversation with myself and my boss and I could also make my relationship with him worse when my complaints reach his ears. And the salary increase? Well, maybe next time……

By paying attention to what really happens in these situations, we can easily realise that, although sometimes it’s natural and understandable to complain, the more time we spend complaining, the more we use our energies in a dysfunctional way.

We fall into the emotional trap of fear

that drives us to foster inertia, distortion of reality, loss of self-esteem and frustration and doesn’t make us focus on the resources we can use to create a reality that is more in line with what we really want.

It’s a bit like deciding to swim against the tide, in the opposite direction to where we want to go…..we would have a hard time and we would never reach our destination.

How can we avoid falling into this emotional trap?

There are at least 5 Foundational Emotional Intelligence Skills that can come to our rescue in these situations:

  • Self-awareness
  • Focus
  • Emotional Balance
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Positive Outlook.

Self-awareness: first of all, if I want to avoid a risk, I must be aware that I am at risk.

Focus: being aware of all the factors behind the constant complaining and the costs and benefits that result from it, allows me to have a better understanding of what is at stake and how my attitude can impact on my personal and professional life.

Emotional Balance: knowing what emotions, such as fear, are almost automatically and subconsciously triggering my actions, allows me to identify the real cause of my dysfunctional actions and to decide to act in a more appropriate way to solve the real problem I have to face.

Achievement Orientation: bearing in mind that when I am constantly complaining, I am jeopardising the achievement of my most important objective (e.g. salary increase), will prevent me from falling into the trap of instant gratification. 

Positive Outlook: even in an objectively adverse situation, we can always ask ourselves “what can I learn from what’s happening to me?”, “What’s positive about it?”, “What’s the best way for me to do this?” 

And have you ever thought if there’s an area in your life where you’re stuck in a complaining attitude?

And have you ever wondered what price you’re paying and what would be possible if you used your energies differently?

Life can be easy if we learn to act effectively!