Friday, March 25, 2016

The Complaining, Negativity Dragon

Some people seem to have a constant stream of negativity coming out of their mouths. Whether they are posting on social media, or you’re trying to have a conversation with them, it’s all complaints!

The people around them feel the emotional pull of wanting to help them, but for most of us, it is extremely uncomfortable….you know that awkward feeling of being pulled into that feeling of responsibility for someone else’s emotions? Many of us have a hard enough time managing our own emotions! In the name of preserving our own sense of emotional calm, we duck out of that uncomfortable situation at our earliest convenience!

This is how it goes with chronic complainers.

Author and therapist, Margaret Paul, Ph.D., says that “people who complain are generally people who have not done the emotional and spiritual work of developing a loving, compassionate inner adult self.”  She also says, “Energetically, complainers are pulling on others for caring and understanding because they have emotionally abandoned themselves.”

Complaining is one of those internal dragons people carry around that all started because of feelings of lack.  The act of complaining is a habit which makes people feel more in control in a world where everything is perceivably happening to them.

But what if that chronic complainer is you?  What are you supposed to do with this dragon you’ve lived with for so long?

On the topic of bad events: it’s absurd to think that anyone can control things that are beyond the scope of their own actions…so trying to have control in those situations is pointless.  Complaining isn’t an action that results in any real change either, so again, a complete waste of effort.

Things just happen….but if we choose to focus on the negative aspects, and comment about them, we feed and grow that dragon and the habit of complaining gets out of control.  Soon, you may not even realize that you’re constantly complaining, and driving people away from you. You may begin to complain that nobody is ever around to help you, and it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Your current reality may make you feel like you are condemned to your own internal prison -- but this vicious cycle of negativity is a mere mental habit, and like any habit, it can be changed!

Mental habits form much like tires create ruts in a dirt road: the more you drive the car along the same route, the more difficult it is to drive the car out of the ruts.  The only way out of a habit is to do the mental work to change the context of your actions, actively change your perceptions, and to consistently replace the old habit with a new behavior.

The willpower you’ll use to create this new behavior is a mental muscle.  You’ll need to train it like you would train your biceps at the gym.

Just like training to be an athlete, it’s going to take time and patience. Nobody starts training by just walking into a gym and starting off with bench pressing 500 pounds, and similarly, you should not expect to be able to change your habits overnight!

In order to change, you’ve got to create space for new habits by taming that negative, shaming, judgmental voice in your head.  Forgive yourself for being so negative and hostile in there for so long. It’s time to replace all of that prickly scaliness with compassion. Be actively gentle with yourself. 

Let go of that inner battle and redirect your mental focus to what you do want. When your brain stops wasting its energy by being caught up in the guilt and shame, you will be able to divert your energy to change, and your dragon will be able to shrink so much faster!

Consider replacing the constant judgment with feelings of acceptance, and feelings of gratitude for all the stuff that is actually good no matter how seemingly small and simple that thing might be. 

Yes, bad things do happen, but as a large-brained human, you have the capacity to rise above it all.  Shrug off the old attitude of being a victim, because that doesn’t serve you.  What does serve you is compassion for yourself, and deliberate actions which move you gradually towards the emotional place you really want to be. <3


Paul, M. (n.d.) Addiction to Complaining. Retrieved from:

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