Saying everything I want to say is going to be hard for me because I tend to hide behind my writing. When I write, I become a different person. A more confident person. I get to edit and delete things, no one ever knows where I started and what my writing process looked like throughout, they just see the end result. Writing makes me feel safe. And I used writing as a shield for so long that now my thoughts get jumbled up when I do attempt to speak up. I’m not as eloquent as I feel in my head and I end up hardcore screwing up my intonation (like sometimes I yell when I don’t intend to yell and other times I awkwardly mutter things). It’s just easier for me to listen and respond, rather than talk and engage. I’ve gotten so used to this and hiding behind my writing, that I simply don’t speak up as much as I should or want to. I want to change that because saying what I want to say will increase my happiness levels. There’s one caveat: I need to speak my mind more and complain less.
I’ll be the first to say, talking without complaining is hard. People unite over common dislikes. And complaining, or finding the bad in a situation, is in our genetic makeup. We need to be able to assess situations that will cause us harm in order to stay guarded from those situations. I’m not going to play with fire when I know the consequence is getting burned. Despite all the negative in the world, imagine the difference we could make in our own lives if we tried our hardest to find positive in everything.
Although it’s incredibly easy to complain, complaining brings the speaker and the listener down. It’s a killjoy. And I know it’s going to make me happier, albeit slightly uncomfortable, to speak up and be honest while being positive. Here are some tips and truths to follow when you, too, want to speak up more, bottle up less, stop complaining, and most importantly, be happy.
1. Understand and accept the universal truths of life
It’s incredibly crucial to understand and accept the universal truths of life. Someone close to you will one day let you down, life will always throw struggle after struggle at you, the only thing certain in life is uncertainty, etc. etc. You will never know when you’ll lose your money, lose your job, lose your parent, lose your life. The sooner you understand and accept universal truths, the less inclined you will be to complain about them.
2. Acknowledge that which gives you angst
Define what you complain about and what gives you angst. Observations about people and situations doesn’t equate to a complaint. Allowing those observations take control of your heart leads to a complaint. You complain when you are feeling anxious, upset, or angry about something. Figure out what these situations are and acknowledge them. This will bring you a step closer to handling your angst in a healthier way.
3. If you don’t say what you want, you won’t get what you want
Speak up and avoid bottling in your feelings and thoughts. A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. In turn, they often don’t get what they want. I find that the things I complain about were somewhat in my control. It was when I didn’t stand up for myself or when I let something slide. Speak up when you feel short-changed, but be positive about it. If your friend let you down, let them know how it made you feel. If something offends you, speak up for what you believe in. To see a change, sometimes you have to ask for it. And if asking doesn’t work, demand for it.
4. Take action when someone around you is bringing you down
When someone around you is complaining too much, chances are you’re spiraling down a tunnel of misery with them. Complaining is contagious. Take action or say something when someone around you is being too negative. Avoid joining in on rant sessions, but rather respond with something more helpful. It requires bravery and confidence not to join in on conversations with complainers. It may even mean not fitting in when you don’t join in on this act some view as building camaraderie. Do your best to take positive action, after all, you are the company you keep.
5. Fake it until you feel it
It’s hard to cut off complaining all together, in fact, you might even be bottling in some important feelings if you don’t air out your grievances. Just be cognizant of what you’re saying and trick yourself in finding the positive in every situation. If you find yourself upset about something, see if you can add a “but” mid-complaint and wrap up with something positive. For example: I hate having to get to work before 9 am, but I’m glad to be at a job I love. And I hate driving to Houston every other weekend, but I’m glad I have loved ones to visit when I feel lonely. Turn your sorrows into something to smile about.
6. Get comfortable with discomfort and remember all the beautiful risks you’ve taken
Those who are willing to take risks, step out of their comfort zone, and into the discomfort of uncertainty will be those who feel pure happiness. When I first left my parents’ home at twenty-one to move to a different state for an internship, make a career out of it, and eventually create a home for myself, I was terrified, excited, and completely outside my comfort zone. I made it work, but I fell a lot along the way. Happiness cannot be achieved from within my comfort zone. It makes me uncomfortable to feel rejected, but if it means I’m a step closer to finding happiness, discomfort is a small price to pay.