In our lives, all of us know them, some of us have them; hopefully, none of us are them.
What am I talking about? You know that person who walks towards you and you wish you had the superpower of becoming invisible?
Or what about the name that comes up on your caller ID and you hit decline faster than the winning car in the Daytona 500 can cross the finish line?
Who are these people and why do we want to avoid them at all costs? They are best known as Energy Vampires. They sap every last ounce of strength out of all they come in contact with; like a national power outage.
Energy Vampires are pessimistic people. They are chronic complainers that focus on their own issues and are relentlessly negative as opposed to their positive, encouraging, and solutions-oriented counterparts.
“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” – Albert Einstein
Are You a Chronic Complainer?
Before you start rattling off the names of vampires you know, first make sure you aren’t guilty of being a mindless complainer yourself. Mindless complaining does not serve a greater purpose; it’s negatively rooted without any intention of finding a solution to the complaint.
“The only thing complaining does is convince other people that you are not in control.”– Unknown
Do you even recognize when you are reacting out of a negative mindset and complaining? Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10.
- 1 being you know you are pretty close to turning into the blood thirsty Dracula
- 10 being Mother Theresa
A 10 rarely complains needlessly and looks for an opportunity to turn senseless negativity into sensible possibilities.
What are Your 3 Most Common Complaints?
Once you rate yourself, write down the 3 things you complain about the most. Can you identify a pattern of negativity? Do you complain about:
- The Weather
- Other People
- Your Career
Make sure you also take note of any internal complaining; thoughts though not verbalized are still running through your mind as negative and stealing your energy.
What Happens When You Complain?
Research in neuroscience shows us that repetitive thoughts physically alter the neuroplasticity of the brain. The physical shape of your brain changes because of your thoughts.
According to studies, repetitive thoughts cause the neurons in your brain to grow closer together and the connections become more permanent. If these thoughts are habitually negative, such as what happens with complaining, over time it becomes easier and easier to be more negative than positive.
So what exactly does that mean? In essence, it purports that complaining rewires your brain for negativity. The more you complain, the more you are likely to continue to complain. It is a learned behavior that gets deeply embedded in the brain and fosters further negativity.
“What you focus on grows. What you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.” -Robin Sharma
What is Pointless Complaining Costing You?
Chronic complainers not only deplete their own energy reserves, they negatively affect those around them. According to studies conducted on brain activity, researchers have found that complaining and negativity cause the brain to release stress hormones that harm neural connections which make listeners feel worse; similar to the effects of secondhand smoke.
Complainers mentally, physically, and emotionally deplete those in the workplace, home, or any environment they find themselves in.
According to bestselling author and keynote speaker Jon Gordon, “Complaining actually costs the economy billions of dollars in lost productivity and it will sabotage the morale, engagement, and culture of your team if you let it.”
Your Happiness and Wellbeing
Besides adversely affecting those around you, complaining steals your happiness. You can’t simultaneously be negative, complaining, AND happy at the same time.
According to Psychology Today, science states that the elevated stress levels that result from negativity are a potential for mental illness and decreased resilience. Pointless complaining causes stress and has the potential to weaken your immune system. – Steve Parton, The Science of Happiness
Rewire Your Brain for Positivity
Thankfully there’s an escape route you can take to exit out of this negativity loop; a flip side of this dilemma to get yourself out of the vicious cycle of negativity and complaining.
Since chronic complaining is a habit, like any habit, it can be reversed. Neuroscience has also proven that you can rewire your brain by applying positive thoughts to your life which leads to greater joy, happiness, and fulfillment.
- Think more positive thoughts,
- Ask yourself positive questions,
- Look for positive solutions…
You establish a new habit; one of increasing positivity and decreasing complaining.
Because this is such a powerful issue with such potentially dangerous consequences, I have made it a habit to be mindful and check myself constantly against negativity and complaining. It comes so easy to all of us; it’s like a default setting.
Once you decide you want to break free from the habit of complaining, there are some very easy skillsets you can learn and start implementing today to yield pretty quick results.
7 Steps to Get Out of the Negativity Loop
1. Recognize Your Automatic Default Settings
The starting block to any change is self-awareness. Obviously, the first step to changing a behavior is to recognize when it’s occurring. Sometimes this is very subtle; recognizing your thoughts, energy shifts, and the words you vocalize are good indicators of your default settings.
Check Your Thoughts
Start paying attention to your thoughts even if you don’t verbalize them. Make note of when you are complaining internally. Internal complaining goes on inside of your head even though you don’t express it; with the same toxic consequences.
Discern your energy swings. When you recognize a negative energy shift, take note of what is going on around you. Negative energy feels like you are:
- Burned Out
Everyday Language Check
Another default setting to check is your language. Catch the words you are saying that are negative or whiny. When asked how you are doing do you say things like?
- I’ve been better
- It just goes on and on
- You have no idea how hard this is
How is your complaining getting rewarded? Who are your go-to people that you can’t wait to vent and complain to? When others listen to you, you are getting attention and receiving gratification for this harmful behavior.
2. Take 100% Responsibility for Your Actions
Complainers fail to take ownership of their lives and become the powerless unattractive victim. When you commit to owning 100 percent of your life which includes your thoughts, decisions, and actions, your life will be revolutionized.
Accepting 100 percent personal responsibility for your life will empower you and give you self-direction. When you start saying, “I am responsible for my life,” you understand that if something is going to be done, you need to make it happen yourself; this in and of itself is empowering.
“Negative thoughts are your greatest enemy to success.” – Brian Tracy
3. Cultivate Optimism
Optimism is a great predictor of resiliency. It is a future-oriented state of mind that factors in hope and faith that circumstances will improve. Optimists believe that the future will be brighter while pessimists see the future as dim.
In their book Resilience, authors Dr. Dennis S. Charney and Dr. Steven M. Southwick conducted decades of work with trauma survivors including Vietnam POWs. They identified 10 resilient factors that contribute to resiliency and optimism is one of the 10 powerful traits found in resilient people.
4. Embrace Gratitude
Mentally tough people choose to exchange complaining for gratitude. Once again scientific studies have shown us that people who practice gratitude have a higher quality of physical and psychological health.
5. Be Solutions Oriented
Complainers love to find problems and vent but they offer no solutions to their complaining. Learn to recognize that when there is a problem, identify it and bring a solution into the equation.
“Complaining is finding faults. Wisdom is finding solutions.” – Ajahn Brahm
6. Find Acceptance
There are times when things are out of our control. Understanding what you have control over and what you don’t leads to acceptance. If you have the power to change something, take action. If not, release the need for control and feel the freedom that follows.
7. Resolve to Choose Love over Fear
When your response is fear based, you never bring your best self to the situation. You can’t be a good mother, spouse, sister, father, brother, son, boss, or friend when you respond from a place of fear. You are not living in the freedom you were designed to live.
Negative thoughts and negative emotions steal your joy. When you free yourself from the negative thoughts, you fuel your life with hope and faith instead of fear, doubt, and anxiety.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell
Positive people are not defined by their circumstances; they take action and make things happen.
You alone know what camp you fall in: the pessimistic energy vampire, or the resilient optimist.
The world is always going to challenge you with people or circumstances that are annoying and tug at your negative default settings. It’s your choice to take 100% personal responsibility to:
Own Your Thoughts
Own Your Emotions
Own Your Choices
Adjust the Sails When Necessary
Ready to Dig Deeper?
Want to push past your limitations and find transformation? Download my FREE Life Clarity Assessment to discover your blueprint for change.