I’ve been told that I complain…a lot.
There are times I fight back against this, mostly because I know that it’s seen as a negative. A criticism. A character flaw.
And who wants to feel criticized?
(It’s also not lost on me that the people who feel the need to point out my complaining are, in fact, complaining about me. But whatever…)
The truth is that I do complain. Regularly. Openly. Honestly.
And I don’t see that as a bad thing.
While I have my moments when I play the role of “people pleaser” or “fixer,” more often than not I make a point to be straightforward about how I’m feeling.
If someone does something that annoys or hurts me, I’m going to speak up.
If my schedule changes last minute or in a way that throws my whole day off, I’m going to speak up.
If I see or read something unjust in the news, I’m going to speak up.
If I feel sick or overwhelmed or anxious, I’m going to speak up.
If I have to deal with someone else’s bad mood or rude behavior, I’m going to speak up.
If I’m unhappy with my current situation, I’m going to speak up.
Yes, I do my best to be positive when possible, but I’m much better at being realistic.
And that’s why I don’t view complaining as a bad thing. To me, it’s just another way to show up in the world as authentically as possible.
Because we do not wake up every morning feeling sunshine-y and bright. We aren’t robots…or little orphan Annie.
Some days we feel bothered or annoyed or angry. Some days we wished we felt happier or less stressed or more patient. Some days we just need to let it all out; and some days that looks like complaining.
Recently, I saw a quote from licensed therapist Kier Gaines that helped me see my complaining in a less harsh light:
“The presence of gratitude is not the absence of frustration. You are allowed to be critical of the things you are also grateful for.”
Our world is often overrun with toxic positivity, calls for endless gratitude, and shaming of those who express dissatisfaction with a person, experience, or system. We push for acceptance and letting go, for instant action and hard-core results.
But being an honest, complicated human means that our feelings aren’t always neat and linear. I can be thankful for my relationship and still feel annoyed with my partner. I can love my job and still feel bothered by a change to my schedule. I can feel blessed to live in my country and still rage when something unfair happens. I can appreciate the body I’m in and still feel bothered when it doesn’t cooperate with me.
I can feel grateful for the beautiful life I’ve created and still wake up frustrated for any number of reasons. And when I feel frustrated, I complain.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit in those feelings endlessly. Or that I won’t take any action to fix what’s bothering me. All it means it that I’m giving my feelings words, that I’m owning how I feel in that moment so I can, eventually, start moving forward.
It may not be my most pleasant personality trait but it has to be better than stuffing my feelings down or pretending to be fine or only telling people what they want to hear.
So I’ll keep complaining when the mood strikes. I’ll keep being honest about where my head and my heart are in any given moment. I’ll keep showing up as authentically as I can.
Because if we don’t acknowledge how we feel, even and especially when that feeling swings more to the negative side, we’ll never be able to find a way to let that feeling go.
Here are two more encouraging quotes for anyone who complains…a lot:
“Haven’t you learned anything, not even with the approach of death? Stop thinking all the time that you’re in the way, that you’re bothering the person next to you. If people don’t like it, they can complain. And if they don’t have the courage to complain, that’s their problem.” ~ Paulo Coelho
“I don’t think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.” ~ Boris Pasternak