20 Signs you’re complaining too much

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Kevin Mangelschots

  1. You’re constantly complaining

    One of the most obvious signs of a chronic complainer is that you’re … being whiney all the time!

    However, it isn’t always obvious to us because we might get stuck into a pattern of complaining constantly without even being aware that we’re exhibiting that behavior.

    Still, we should always take some time to analyze things thoroughly and to reflect on our actions.

  2. People are pointing out that you complain a lot

    There might be some truth to the matter when people tell you that you’re kicking all the time.

    Nevertheless, we shouldn’t take everything we hear and see at face value. Thus, we should take some time to determine if the people saying those things truly want the best for us. In the past, I had some folks trying to gaslight me in an attempt to control me because it suited their personal goals.

    If they don’t think in your best interest, then they might simply be gaslighting you, or trying to bring you down along with them. Just because you might be kind and respectful doesn’t mean that everyone thinks and acts in the same manner.

  3. You’re venting without finding, or even trying to find solutions

    Image of a woman yelling angrily into a black phone while balling a fist.

    Venting has its time and place. But venting perpetually without even attempting to find solutions is simply counterproductive, and will aid no one.

    We should always try to think of solutions, not problems. Yet, it isn’t uncommon for people to moan just because they can, and since it garners them the attention they so desire.

  4. You ruminate a lot

    Ruminating a lot might cause overthinking behavior, and even seeing all the negative events in life more clearly. That’s not always a bad thing, and can even be an advantage because understanding the issue can lead to solutions.

    Still, constantly being faced with all the antagonistic experiences and despicable things people do might make you more depressed, bitter, and even cruel. Needless to say, bitter individuals are more likely to complain a lot because they’re stuck in a negative mindset compared to optimistic individuals.

  5. People avoid you

    People avoiding you can have multiple reasons. You might simply have different personalities and interests, but it’s also possible that they’re intentionally avoiding you because you’re always whining about the smallest things in the world.

    We typically dislike negativity in our existence because there’s already enough trouble and tragic events going on as is. We don’t need any additional hassles that we could avoid, which is exactly why we deflect nagging individuals.

  6. You always see the glass as half-empty

    Image of a half empty glass of milk standing on a table.

    While some always see the glass as half full, others see the glass as half empty all the time.

    But if you’re concentrated on all the bad things, or what can potentially go wrong, then you’re more liable to see those bad circumstances, not to mention that it’s probably going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m not saying that you should dismiss all the negative experiences happening in the world, nor that things can go wrong.

    But what I’m saying is that you should try your best to remain cheerful, and to look at the bright side of life. There are always a lot of things going according to plan as well, so it makes more sense to focus on those things since they bring us joy and purpose.

  7. You’re typically in a negative mood

    Our emotions are subject to change. But if you’re always in a negative mood, then that’s a clear giveaway that something is not right with your current mental state.

    While the world isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, it isn’t always bad or unfavorable either. Thus, you shouldn’t be stuck in a constant state of negativity. But if you are, then that might be a sign that you’re disgruntled, or suffering from a mental health condition such as depression.

  8. You have a negative outlook on life

    Image of a young woman holding her head while crossing her legs.

    You may have become so bitter and cynical that you’re stuck with an antagonistic outlook on life, even though positive events are happening as well.

    There are indeed terrible cases occurring all the time. And in the end, we will all perish. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy ourselves in the time in between. But we need to look at the bright side of life and stop concentrating on the bad parts so much if we wish to become content.

  9. You claim that you’re simply being realistic

    You may be simply being more realistic than those around you and see more of the things going wrong than others. But it’s also a possibility that you’re simply saying that to rationalize your negative state and constant moaning.

    Rationalizations with some truth to them are so powerful because that means that there’s always an excuse to be made in an attempt to validate our beliefs and actions. Yet, they can be incredibly detrimental because making excuses doesn’t lead to fixing the issues.

  10. You’re irritable after venting

    Image of a black woman looking away from her partner while putting her hands on her hips.

    Being irritable after venting isn’t desirable nor the norm since it’s usually done to release frustration and decrease tension as a result.

    If you notice that you do tend to get riled up after venting, then that might be a sign that you’re simply whining without using that time to improve your mental state. And that simply isn’t helpful at all.

  11. You spend a lot of time with other complainers

    As they say, birds of the same feather flock together. If you notice that you’re surrounded by individuals who’re constantly making a fuss about the smallest of things, then you might just be complaining too much.

    If that’s the case, then I would suggest searching out better company while changing your actions. Others don’t enjoy being around those who are constantly whining and never in a good mood.

  12. You surround yourself with negative people

    Surrounding yourself with negative people means you’re more likely to be around snivellers as well.

    That’s because concentrating on negativity too much makes you more likely to seek out like-minded individuals since you’re probably going to see all the dreadful things that are happening, while possibly becoming bitter and cynical in the process.

  13. You’re too hard on yourself

    Being too hard on yourself can lead to frustration and anger. But it can also cause perfectionism that makes you disgruntled about every little thing that doesn’t go your way, or according to your plan.

    While trying your best, and taking accountability for your actions are great, being overly hard on yourself will create more issues than it solves. You should also practice self-love and being kind to yourself at times to balance out the seriousness and tension.

  14. Everything has to be perfect, it’s never good enough

    The quote, “strive for progress, not perfection” written on a track and field background.Perfectionism can make you great at something since obsessed people put in the required time and effort. Still, it’s a vicious cycle since we’re inherently imperfect, and can never attain true perfection of our craft and abilities.

    That’s why perfectionism typically leads to frustration and anger eventually because things are never impeccable or going according to our plans. Striving for greatness is perfectly fine and even admirable, but you should realize that it’s never going to be exactly the way you want it to be.

  15. You feel hopeless and helpless

    Feeling hopeless and helpless can be the result of many things such as learned helplessness, or a mental illness like depression. Yet, it can also be a clue that you’re stuck in a rut and don’t see a way out anymore.

    If that’s the case, then you should try focusing on the things that are under your voluntary control, and that you can change instead of trying to whine about everything that we can’t do anything about. Try utilizing your energy positively instead of wasting it aimlessly.

  16. You tend to dwell on what happened in the past

    The past acts as the stern teacher that confirms we might have made some mistakes, but ultimately grew as individuals because we learned of those errors and failures.

    However, some people get stuck in the past and keep reliving the failures and faults they once made. That’s only useful until we’ve learned the lesson that we needed to learn from those painful experiences. But afterward, we need to let bygones be bygones and look forward to the present and future since we’re now better equipped to deal with new, challenging situations.

  17. You think in problems instead of solutions

    Illustration of a magnifying glass glancing over the word “solution” in between the multiple “problem” words.

    A lot of folks think in problems, but not in solutions. But I think that’s simply counterproductive. What good is it to create more issues instead of solving them and improving our existence by making it easier and less stressful?

    You should make it a point to focus on what you can do to make things better instead of creating more concerns by enlarging the difficulties that already exist. Or by producing even more issues due to thinking overly negatively.

  18. You compare yourself to others too much

    There’s only one person you should compare yourself to, and that’s yourself. Everyone’s different, and thus, so are our skills, perks, and imperfections.

    Everyone has their gifts, but also weaknesses, which means we should play to our strengths. But unfortunately, most of us try to compare the things we’re not as competent or talented at with others who are superb at those things. This regularly creates low self-esteem, and a sense of inferiority compared to others.

  19. You don’t handle compliments well

    A woman holding a hand in front of her face trying to hide.

    Not handling compliments well can be a sign of low self-regard, but also that you’re thinking that everyone’s out to get you and that all compliments are a ruse by default.

    Both aren’t beneficial to our existence and should be fixed if we wish to live a meaningful and content life. Learning to appreciate praise is beneficial to your mood and overall well-being since we all like to be acknowledged from time to time.

  20. You think everyone’s out to get you

    I believe it’s true that some folks are terrible, and out to get us by attempting to misuse our trust and empathy. But it’s foolish to believe that everyone out there is that malevolent.

    You shouldn’t be naive, but you also shouldn’t think the worst of all those around you. You should learn to trust, but more importantly, who to trust. That’s something that we can only learn through observation, and through practical experience by living our life to the fullest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The red word, “FAQ” made with puzzle pieces.

Why do I complain so much?

The reason someone complains so much can vary. But it can be the symptom of an underlying problem or the cause of one.
 
  1. Emotional (dys)regulation

    The most common reason for complaining too much is suffering from emotional dysregulation, and complaining in an attempt to manage their feelings.

    We typically complain much more when we’re in a negative state of mind compared to when we are content and gleeful.

  2. To get attention

    Image of a young woman telling a story and having the attention of the public.

    Grumbling can be used to garner attention since you’re affecting people’s emotions, and empathic folks will want to help out those in need.

    Nevertheless, it’s not a healthy way to attract the spotlight. Even more, having an excessive need for external validation isn’t good for your psychological well-being at all. The only people who should have some sort of influence on your actions and mental state should be those who love you and want the best for you.

    You should behave in the manner that you would want to be treated as that’s the appropriate way to act most of the time. At the very least, you’ll have the peace of mind that you tried acting in the way you thought was best, even if you happen to find out that it wasn’t.

  3. To excuse themselves for performing poorly

    Making a fuss can be an attempt to search for an excuse for why they performed poorly in an activity.

    We often end up rationalizing our behavior and what we did poorly/wrong to reduce the associated anxiety that regularly comes along with these errors. And while intelligent individuals are very adept at rationalizing most of the time, that doesn’t mean that it’s right. We have to accept what we did poorly before we can get better at that given thing.

  4. To remove responsibility

    Illustration of a prohibition sign reading “responsible”.

    Complaining why things went astray is much easier on our mental state than admitting to ourselves and others that we failed or made a mistake.

    And while that might feel better, it’s only a Pyrrhic victory. Without taking responsibility, there’s simply no chance to experience growth. Why would we bother to develop ourselves when nothing is our fault, and anything that goes wrong is the blame of an external source?

  5. To make themselves feel stronger

    Protesting can be the result of an attempt to feel stronger. They might make it seem like they’re the victim, while you, and/or everyone else around them is to blame.

    Of course, that’s rarely the case, and that’s behavior that you shouldn’t tolerate from anyone. That’s also why you need to call these acts of victimizing themselves, and making you the oppressor out if you wish to prevent it from happening again in the future.

  6. To stimulate resentment in others

    Finally, some malevolent individuals may misuse complaining as a tool to stimulate envy and other negative emotions in others in an attempt to make their existence as miserable as possible.

    Still, that’s not even beneficial to the person exhibiting that harmful behavior since they’re only going to make themselves more wretched as well. If you feel like you need to hurt those around you, then you have some work on yourself to do to heal from past wounds and trauma, so you can be happy once more.

Is it normal to complain all the time?

Image of the sentence, 'am I normal' written on a white piece of paper on a blue background.
 
While it is normal to complain, it’s abnormal to whine all the time.
 
The average individual moans between 15–30 times a day. But if you find yourself complaining a considerable amount above this number, then you’re probably moaning too much. If you notice that it impacts your mood for the worse, then that’s also a clear sign that you should dial back the grumbling.
 

Try to figure out why you’re in that negative state to change your behavior for the better.

What is the root cause of complaining?

The root cause of complaining is bitterness that makes you so disgruntled and distressed that you feel the need to complain to feel better and in an attempt to regulate your emotions.

It’s quite obvious that you feel unfavorable about a given thing to the point where you feel the need to complain about it.

Even better than simply kicking is making a plan, and taking action to change things for the better.

How does complaining affect others?

Complaining does tend to affect others by having negative physiological effects. Those around us will typically respond by getting agitated or joining in by becoming whiney themselves.

Unbeknownst to a lot of us, we tend to feel and adjust our emotional state to that of those surrounding us. If others in our vicinity are disgruntled, then we’re more inclined to become dissatisfied as well. Especially when we’re empathic and/or emotional individuals.

Attempting to one-up each other is another possible result of complaining too much. “What you experienced was bad, but what I went through was even worse!” Or, “Yes, I didn’t cook, but you didn’t do the dishes yesterday either” when trying to exceed someone’s upset.

How do I tell someone to stop complaining?

  1. Listen to their complaints

    Illustration how revealing and listening can lead to understanding.

    Someone may be complaining because they don’t feel understood, or like others are listening.

    Hearing them out and being empathic about their struggles can already aid in resolving a lot of their disgruntled mood. Chances are they’re simply searching for validation regarding their ideas or mental state.

  2. Reformulate their situation

    Reformulating their situation to be more accurate and realistic is a great way to reduce the negativity. People who are annoyed with something lean toward exaggerating their issues, and that’s why reframing their circumstances can be so effective in reducing pessimism.

    People are inherently biased. We’re not machines who are rational all the time. I notice in myself that I tend to magnify my concerns when I’m in a bad mood or dealing with difficult events. And that’s when I need my friends and loved ones to rephrase my situation more realistically to keep the tension from becoming overbearing.

  3. Alter how you deal with it

    There are times when you simply can’t change the situation, or how other people think, no matter how competent and well-meaning you are.

    But what you can do is change your response, and how you decide to deal with these folks. You shouldn’t take it personally when they’re complaining or trying to put you down to elevate their self-esteem. Altering your communication style to suit your conversational partner can also help to reduce strain since they’re more likely to feel heard and understood.

  4. Search and ask for resolutions

    The words “problems” and “solutions” written on a blackboard with white chalk with the word “problems” being crossed out.

    Simply asking whether the complainer has any potential solutions or not can already improve the situation since they feel like their opinion matters, and that they can employ their potential resolutions.

    In my personal experience, asking questions such as, “How would you solve that situation?” or, “What can be done to improve these circumstances?” are excellent ways to find possible solutions.

  5. Call out their behavior

    If all the previous steps failed, then one of the few things left to do is simply call out their toxic behavior in an attempt to make them stop.

    It might work since it’s direct, honest, and assertive. But I think that it will cause even more frustration and anger most of the time since the complainer will most likely feel misunderstood and like their views don’t matter.

    Still, it’s necessary to do so if everything else fails and there’s simply no other way to get them to stop whining. Yet, it’s a big and hard step to take for most since it’s fairly confrontational. That’s especially true for those who are empathic, submissive, and who value peace over disagreement.

  6. Redirect the conversation

    Redirecting the conversation to another topic can be another quick fix if you notice there’s simply no end to their constant whining.

    While it doesn’t resolve the issue, it can help to reduce stress because they’re distracted, and you don’t give them the chance to let loose by changing to another subject.

    Sometimes we can’t just cut people out of our lives such as at work, or our recreational circle. That’s where this technique will shine the most since it allows for cooperating respectfully and peacefully instead of having to call them out on their annoying actions.

  7. Tell them to stop

    Image of a man holding out his hand, indicating he's telling to stop.

    Telling them to stop can go two ways. It can make them quit their fretting immediately because it is so direct, confrontational, and assertive, or it can make them even more annoyed and disgruntled. If that’s the case, then they’re probably going to start kicking around even harder than before.

    That’s why this technique is best applied when you have a stick behind the door. The stick in this case is having the ability to cut them out of your life altogether if it doesn’t end up panning out.

  8. Cut them out of your life completely

    Unfortunately, the only person we can control and alter in this universe is ourselves. And even that requires a great amount of willpower, work, and time.

    If every other measure fails, then you’ve got no choice but to cut them out of your life completely. Just know that you did everything you could to help them, and don’t take it personally when they end up insulting you because you don’t give them the validation they typically so desire.

    In the end, it’s their issue, and not yours. If you tried your best to assist them to the best of your abilities, then you did much more than the average person is willing to do. It can even be the best thing to do for the other party as well since we’re incapable of helping them, and enabling them or having to lie to appease them will get them nowhere either.

What is a constant complaining personality disorder?

Someone who has a constant complaining personality disorder is also commonly called a chronic complainer.

Those suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder are constantly whining about every little thing and disappointment that happens in all facets of their existence.

They’re typically unhappy and stuck in a constant state of negativity. Even when fortune befalls them, it’s still never good enough, and they will search and twist the situation in such a manner that they can keep moaning. They tend to focus on the negatives much more heavily than on the optimistic features.

Final note

The quote, “Complaining is pointless. Either act or forget it!” written on a background.

Complaining without searching for an answer and acting it out is pointless since it’ll lead to even more frustration rather than resolving a concern.

And while it is natural to vent from time to time to release pent-up anger and frustration, fretting constantly isn’t normal or healthy. Not for you, or the people around you.

That’s why you should make it a point to think of solutions rather than problems. Because working out issues will lead to fewer frustrations to kick over.