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Taylor Thoman / Her Campus

Why You Should Cut Complaining Out of Your Vocabulary

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

One of the absolute easiest things to do in college is complain. Everyone does it at one point or another and if you haven’t already, you’ll likely get sucked into it when everyone around you does it constantly. The other day, while procrastinating homework, I was having a conversation with my roommates about our habits. I brought up the realization that I say “I’m tired” way too often, even as a way to start conversation with others who will likely respond the same way. Both my roommates could relate to this; one even talked about how she catches herself complaining about having to go to her lab, which she actually really likes going to. I told my roommates I was going to stop saying “I’m tired” for a few days– the next day, I caved without even realizing. The moment someone told me they were tired, I sighed and said “me too,” when I actually had gotten a lot of sleep and wasn’t tired at all! 


There are so many ways to complain during the day: “I’m bored,” “I don’t want to go to class,” “I have so much to do,” etc. Yet, none of these really help the problem at hand, do they? There is almost always something you can do to solve your minor inconveniences of the day besides complain, like taking a nap or getting ahead on homework. 

So why is it so instinctive for us to complain 24/7 even when we don’t mean to? Well, research shows that making a habit of complaining can rewire your brain to repeat that habit much easier and quicker next time. While this makes your brain processes more efficient, there is a greater downside. Complaining may damage other parts of your brain, like the hippocampus, and your body, through compromising your immune system. 


Even more so, complaining affects our mindset on life. Because our brain is rewired, we see negativity as being a lot more prominent in our lives than it really is. Our negative attitudes then affect the people around us or are strengthened by the people around us, making the whole environment more negative. It also weakens our perspectives on discomfort and blame; when we complain so often, we begin to think that anything that inconveniences us is bad and not our fault. In reality, many events we complain about are there to teach us lessons. And, more often than not, we are at fault for creating or emphasizing our own problems (or what we make to be problems). 

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Kristen Bryant / Her Campus

None of this is to say that you’re not allowed to vent. Everyone needs to vent at some point, but the most important thing is to be aware of what and why you’re venting to stray from merely complaining. Venting can be productive (in moderation) by helping you talk through issues and getting more perspectives on a problem so that you can eventually work toward a solution, as long as you’re not focusing solely on the negative. Remember, “your energy flows where your attention goes.” Complaining is usually just a way of throwing yourself a pity party. Competing to see who has it worse is a surefire way to increase negative energy and suck all the positivity out of the room. 


If you want to quit complaints, start with your perspective. Focus on what you can do or change to stop complaining; for example, prioritize sleeping more if you’re always “tired.” Or focus on the bigger problems behind complaints like possible depression or anxiety, then see what you can do to get help. If you find yourself complaining, try and end it with a positive side, a solution, or something your grateful for about it. 


And if this is all too hard at first, try this more concrete approach of the “No-Complaint Experiment.” This experiment calls for you to get a rubber bracelet or hair tie and put it on your wrist, then switch to the other side whenever you complain or get annoyed, even when you don’t express it out loud. The important effect here is to “stop getting worked up over nothing, not to just hide it from other people.” Having this physical marker every time you complain can show you how much of a nasty habit it truly is and remind you more consistently to cut it out. 

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Taylor Thoman / Her Campus

Make an effort to be a more positive person and more positive energy will come back to you! Though it is easy to call out negative aspects and events in your life, this will only make you unnecessarily have to relive them over and over. And if you can’t find a change that will fix them, let it go. While you work to kick the complaining habit, try and stay away from other negative people or see if they want to join you in trying. There are only so many hours in the day and I don’t think any of us want to waste time complaining!

Shanelle Huynh

UC Riverside '22

I am a UCR graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Business Administration learning to define my own way of living as a "writer" and sharing what I find out on my journey along the way.