The toxic effects of complaining

Complaining may be the biggest killjoy there is.

by Heather Luszczyk — 

“Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thornbush has roses.” — Proverb

Complaining may be the biggest killjoy there is. When you complain about your situation in life, what you’ll get is a lot more to complain about. Why is this?

What we bring to our attention becomes our reality. It’s like focusing on white cars. Pretty soon, you’ll see white cars all over the place.

The problem with complaining is that, hands down, it’s the quickest way to pollute your emotional environment with negative energy. Complaining also barricades all the good stuff the universe sends our way.

This is not to suggest that you should pretend there’s nothing wrong or act like a Pollyanna when a challenge arises. I’m a big fan of acknowledging the truth about a situation and making authentic observations about it. But there’s a big difference between complaining and making an authentic observation. When you complain, you play the victim role, which feeds negative energy to your thoughts, words and actions. When you make a neutral observation, you are examining the truth of a situation without indulging in a pity party or taking potshots at others.

Typically, complaining is merely a conditioned response to the parts of life we don’t like. Many times, we have no awareness that we’re doing it. Sometimes, we even complain about things over which we have absolutely no control, like the weather or traffic. Then we wonder why we feel drained by the end of the day.

Complaining is also very contagious. It spreads, and it brings others around you down. You’ve heard them — the people who go on and on about their parent, spouse, sibling, neighbor, friend or boss who never stops complaining.

One of the most noticeable examples of contagious complaining is regarding the economy. We can kvetch to our hearts’ content about the current state of the national and global economy, or we can look at it from as many angles as possible and try to determine how to change what’s not working at home (in our own personal economy). The first option allows us to hold a pity party, complete with “poor-me” party hats and “blame-them” noisemakers. The second option enables us to become proactive and powerful within our own microcosm. It also creates room for abundance to enter our lives.

We’ve heard the classic question: Is the glass half full or half empty? In reality, it’s both at the same time. Some people look at the glass and spin the story of how it’s half full; others look at the same glass and spin the story of how it’s half empty. The truth is that it’s just a glass of water — how we perceive it is up to us.

If we want to complain, there will always be things to complain about. If we want to rejoice, there will always be things to rejoice about. The beauty is that the choice is up to us.

Affirmations for releasing the need to complain

  • Blessings now flow in the parts of my life I used to complain about.
  • Focusing on the half-empty glass no longer serves me; I am unafraid to instead focus on the half-full glass.
  • As I look for the blessings, I release the victim role and know deep within me that things always happen for me, not to me.
  • I no longer need to commiserate with others to bond with them. I can form healthy, positive friendships to support and uplift each other.
  • I replace complaining with appreciation.
  • When faced with a challenge, instead of complaining about it, I make a neutral observation and open myself to finding possible solutions. I choose to view each challenge as an opportunity to take a proactive stance in my life.


Heather Luszczyk is a certified stress management coach who helps people simplify their lives so they can enjoy them more. 1-800-930-1037, or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number  3, Jun/July 2009.

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