Do you find yourself surrounded by people who constantly complain? People who just consistently bitch and moan about almost everything? They seem to look at the cup as being half empty instead of half full. Everything seems wrong and nothing seems right. They complain about the weather, their coworkers, their partners, the government, their children, traffic, and in-laws. They constantly talk about how great life used to be and how things are so different now.
Are you an energy vampire?
Or perhaps you find yourself seeing the negative side instead of looking at what might be positive and then dumping those thoughts into other people's energy fields with complaints. And this pattern of "awfulizing" is contagious. When one person begins to go down this complaining pathway, then those of us around him or her tend to also jump on the bandwagon, usually without even realizing that we are doing so.
But why is this so wrong? We might think that we're just expressing our opinions, and that we have a right to our feelings. And the answer is that of course we have a right to our opinions, however the way to transmute these feelings of frustration or anxiety regarding another person's behavior is not to vent these opinions onto others. Indeed, complaining can have serious consequences. As Guy Winch, PhD and author says: when we have so many dissatisfactions and frustrations, yet believe we're powerless to do much about them or to get the results we want, [then] we are left feeling helpless, hopeless, victimized, and bad about ourselves.
The person listening to us will feel this exposure to negativity as a serious drain on their own energy, often without realizing it. I describe people who tend to consistently complain and dump their stuff on others as energy vampires. You might notice when you get around someone who constantly complains that your natural inclination is to run away or to protect yourself. Most often, though, we're not even conscious of our reactions, and instead, we just notice that we feel resentful, more tired or more anxious around this other person, or our body might start twitching or telling us that we're uncomfortable. These are the emotional or physical responses that we aren't connecting with the person.
Only changing our own behavior:
Of course, once you've recognized that you have a tendency to complain and that there are some deeper emotional concerns, then you have to set about changing the behavior. And one of the largest and hardest insights to come to grips with is recognizing that no amount of complaining, whether it be to the person who has triggered our frustration or to a trusted friend, will actually change the behavior of the person who is the source of what you're feeling (our partner, our boss, or our child.) Instead, we can only change our own behavior. On a deep level, if we are wanting compassion from another person, then we first have to start extending compassion to them. If we are wanting more respect, then we must first extend the same. We must only look to ourselves for a change in behavior, and not rely on someone else's behavior to change in order for us to be happy.
My wish for you today is to pause before you complain to someone and check in with yourself regarding what is truly going on inside.