How to overcome negativity.

Are you a complainer?

Do you find yourself grumbling when you are stuck in traffic, waiting on line, or facing a weekend with your mother in law?

Some people are taking a 21 day challenge: three weeks without complaining. They wear a purple rubber bracelet on their wrist and each time a complaint is voiced they switch from one wrist to the other. The point is trying to go without changing wrists for three weeks and create a ‘complaint free world’; as the words on the bracelet spell out.

If you have the habit of complaining or live with a complainer, you know how draining this behavior can be. Nothing is ever good enough. Every experience has a negative aura. Going to a restaurant – the service was terrible. Holiday family dinner – it’s a headache with too much noise. Moving to a new home – wow, what a shlep! The whining eats away at our happiness, bringing negative thinking and pessimism. It’s no wonder this behavior can impact our marriages, relationships, parenting and careers. Complainers are never satisfied, content or happy.

When a person is embittered, everything is seen in a negative light. Here are some basic tools on how to overcome the negativity and stop the complaining.

1. Nurture your desire to change.

The urge to change is called ‘ratzon’ in Hebrew. It’s the foundation for growth. Recognize that you are harming yourself and your relationships. Feel the consequences and envision a life void of complaining. Tap into your desire. It’s not enough to wish; yearn to rid yourself of all this negative energy.

2. Pause the negativity and shift gears.

Stop seeing what’s awful in every situation. We naturally gravitate to the negative. It’s our default mode. Now’s the time to work some new muscles. You have to train your mind to leave the pessimistic thoughts and start thinking positively. Each time you begin to wander into negative territory, catch yourself and hit the pause button. Then find something good to say instead. It is a mental exercise that could change your life.

Even how you greet people can make a difference: When someone asks, “How are you?”

Don’t reply, “I can’t complain.” Instead get into the habit of responding, “Thank God,” and mention one thing for which you’re presently grateful.

3. Own your life.

If something is bothering you, nothing is accomplished by your complaining. You just feel as if you are powerless. Either try to fix it or drop it. Be proactive and taste the power of your free will.

Try asking yourself these questions:

What do I want?

Can I do something differently now to make this better?

If not, how can I avoid this situation in the future?

4. Recognize when a situation is out of your control.

There are times that we have to live with annoyances, put up with frustrations, and deal with people who get on our nerves. Life contains moments of disappointment; there are potholes on every road. When faced with situations that are out of our control, realize that our complaining builds a wall of negativity around us. We keep those who love us at a distance because we have become bitter and miserable. Sometimes we don’t have the power to change the situation, but how we react is up to us.

5. Eradicate negativity in your marriage.

Every spouse has flaws that are annoying. You have a choice: Either complain to your friends and coworkers or try to focus on the positive and find a solution to whatever it is that is troubling you.

A woman called me to tell me that her marriage has fallen into a funk.

"Our life together is boring. My husband comes home, eats supper, sits on his laptop and then watches Seinfeld repeats. I can't take it anymore. My mother tells me that she always knew he didn't have a great personality. I look at my friend's husbands and they seem so much more exciting. I don't know where I am going with this."

I told this woman that she is making a big mistake. She admitted that her husband is thoughtful and kind, a wonderful father and a good provider. Instead of complaining to her mother and comparing him to her friend's husbands, why not set up a date night? Why not be the one to establish a goal – more romance and together time – and then make it happen: buy tickets to a concert, go bike riding together, or call for reservations and eat out. Find an activity you would enjoy doing together and be the one who reignites the spark.

Instead of complaining, become solution oriented. Make a mental list of all you have to be grateful for. Believe me, there is so much we take for granted and sometimes we only wake up when it is too late. Don’t let this happen to you. Be cognizant of your blessings.

When we stop complaining we transform ourselves and uplift our relationships. As we become more positive, we also become solution seekers. Rid yourself of the negativity and start living better.

Slovie Jungreis-Wolff is a freelance writer, and a relationships and parenting instructor. She is the daughter of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, founder of Hineni International. Slovie has taught Hineni Young Couples and Parenting classes for more than 15 years. Her book, Raising A Child With Soul, is published by St. Martin's Press.

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