The Dangers of Complaining – How Whining Harms Relationships

By: Dwight Bain LMHC

Ever hear your kids or partner whine about something? Did it make you feel better or frustrated? My guess is it irritated you because listening to somebody complain doesn’t help the relationship improve. In fact it doesn’t help anyone improve and is an indicator of maturity. Listen to these words of wisdom from a bumper sticker.

“The more you complain- the more you will find to complain about.”

Whatever you focus on is what you get more of, so when you move away from complaining and whining you can move toward finding something better. It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad, and when you make this switch it helps the relationship and even your health by preventing energy loss.
Randy Pausch wrote about this energy drain in his book, “The Last Lecture,” listen,

“If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can work out... Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won't make us happier.”

Randy wrote these words while facing the greatest battle of his life and a battle he would eventually lose to cancer in 2008 . He knew his body would fail, but wanted his children and students to know what he believed so he gave a “last lecture” and the lesson goes on a decade later. Randy was a man who chose courage over complaining, (listen to the full message at which has been viewed over 19 million times).

When you stop whining about what you want you can gain deep insights from others who have faced terrible circumstances. Maya Angelou has a story like that. As a single mom she knew what it was like to struggle to make just enough money to feed her only child. When a coworker complained about how ‘bad’ things were she confronted the whining with these words,

“Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.”

Stories are a powerful way to help the people in your life move from complaining to facing the issue with courage. Listen and learn from others to see how they managed the stress and pressure.

Biographies, videos and life lessons from an older family member are all ways to put into practice the words of St. Paul who wrote these challenging words over two thousand years ago, “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” (Philippians 2:14) That wisdom works just as well today and will turn your conversations into times of meaning, instead of times to dread.

Ready to challenge the whiners in your family? Then start by not whining yourself, listen to stories of people who overcame challenges and then start to count your blessings. By the time you finish being grateful you won’t even think about complaining. Ready for a challenge? Don’t complain for a week. No whining. Not even a whimper. In a few days you will feel better, have more energy and can bring joy to others. Ripple out gratitude and watch your relationships thrive.

About the Author:
Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor who guides conversations toward positive change. Follow his social media posts on positive change @DwightBain

To schedule an appointment with Dwight Bain,
Please call our office at 407-647-7005.

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