Ten Reasons Not To Complain:
“She is so annoying. I can’t stand it!”

"Tuskegee Airmen, American Royalty" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Tuskegee Airmen, American Royalty”
by Mimi Stuart ©

If you want to improve your life it’s important to be able to be assertive and speak your mind. However, if speaking up turns into a habit of complaining, your life and the lives of those close to you will suffer.

Here are ten reasons not to let complaining become a habit:

1. It is unattractive. When people complain, they tend to use a whiney tone of voice, which in itself is a turn off.

2. You will push interesting people away. Who wants to hang out with someone who complains all the time? It is boring and tiresome.

3. You will attract insipid friends. The friends you end up with will be uninteresting and tend to be victim types because they have nothing better to do than to participate in vent sessions.

4. Your negative emotions become ingrained. Just think about all the things you might complain about—bad service, annoying people, or faulty technology. Simply thinking and talking about these things makes you feel irritated. Complaining triggers your negative emotions and ingrains them deeper into your neural pathways as your normal way of being.

5. It is ineffective in improving things. If you want to improve life, you need to be discerning, and you may have to speak up to change something. Complaining, however, tends to focus on the negative aspects of a situation rather than on how to change it. So instead, focus on how to fix the problem, or, if that’s impossible, change your expectations.

6. It makes the problem worse. What you focus on tends to gain energy and get exacerbated. For instance, if you complain to your partner that he or she is too shy with new people, focusing on it will make him or her uncomfortable and constricted rather than relaxed and outgoing, resulting in increased reticence. If you were to focus on his or her positive traits, e.g. being thoughtful or well read, for example, then he or she is likely to feel more confident. Focus on the positive – it will be rewarded.

7. It is a waste of time. Complaining takes up time that you could use to enjoy life or to improve it. For example, instead of talking about an annoying friend, you could be calling a friend who is not annoying, going for a walk, reading a book, or having an inspiring conversation.

8. It will wreck your relationships. John Gottman found that relationships will be fulfilling over the long-term if 80% of your communication is neutral or positive, that is, appreciative or respectful. If, however, more than 20% of your communication is disrespectful or hostile, then your relationship is likely to deteriorate.

9. Complaining furthers your lack of self-control. When people complain, they are embedding the bad habit of saying everything they think. It is helpful to be observant and discerning. But having the self-discipline to not say everything you think is a crucial skill for enhancing relationships and life.

10. You will cheat yourself of pleasure. Research shows pleasure is derived from anticipating something positive. There’s more joy in improving a bad situation than in complaining about it.


If you have a valid complaint to make against someone, it may be important to speak up. Speaking up with a request for change is different from complaining. If you are complaining you are venting, making negative judgments, reinforcing victim status, and preventing closure.

Simply explain to the appropriate person why something bothers you, and request that a change be made. Pay attention to your choice of words, your tone of voice, and your body language. If that person can’t or won’t accommodate a reasonable request, then take other steps or change your expectations or your relationship to that person.


In essence, to avoid the detrimental effects of complaining, grumbling, and bellyaching on your relationships and wellbeing, focus on transforming negative circumstances into positive ones. Have the courage to take action rather than to complain. Focus on improving your life and appreciate what is already good about it. Your positive vitality will attract people who are self-empowered and your focus on what’s possible will bring amazing possibilities into your view and your reach.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Triangulation: ‘My ex can’t stop complaining about me to my child. I feel like doing the same right back.’”

Read “Getting over your Victim Story:’My brother got all the attention.’”

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Inquisitive Parent: “My dad asks too many questions. Why is he so nosy?”

"Take Off"—Blue Angels by Mimi Stuart© Live the Life you Desire

“Take Off”—Blue Angels by Mimi Stuart ©

It’s normal for parents to want to connect with their kids. Asking questions or wanting to give advice may be the way they attempt to connect with them.

It’s almost always best not to become reactive, angry or recalcitrant, particularly when your parent is well-intentioned. Instead, try to preempt your dad by finding a way to make that connection without having to answer questions that you don’t feel like answering.

You could find a way to approach him first. Have a few questions ready for him. For example, ask him about his youth, early jobs, school, friends, difficulties, challenges, movies, books, where he got his political leanings etc. before he gets a chance to ask you too much.

When he asks you something, give a brief answer without getting defensive, and then say, “What about you, Dad, when did you go on your first date?” You might not be very curious, but it will take the focus off of you, and the answer could be interesting.

You could also disclose some information about yourself that you don’t mind disclosing before he starts asking questions. Talk about an event at school, at work or in the news. If you make the effort to connect and converse on your terms, he may not be as interested in inquiring about the private details of your life.

If you persist in keeping everything completely private, that will only provoke his interest. For instance, if you never mention anything about whom you’re dating, he will be more interested than if you give him just the basic information in a nonchalant tone of voice.

The best defense is a good offense, although in this case we’re not talking about a fight, but about an attempt to make a human connection.

One day if you have kids, you too may stumble a bit in trying to make a connection.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Too Much Attachment: ‘Honey, you’re so smart and talented!’”

Read “Dreading intrusive questions at family gatherings: ‘It’s none of your business!’”

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“Didn’t you hear what I just said!”

"Moderato" by Mimi Stuart ©  Live the Life you Desire

“Moderato” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

So… what I really meant is…

“I don’t think our views are that far apart. We’re just coming at it from different angles. Tell me what you think I’m saying so I can clarify my ideas better.”

Attacking a person hinders communication and damages relationships. If you want to open someone’s mind or heart, don’t imply that they don’t listen and can’t understand simple logic.

To have an effective discussion, you need an underlying attitude of respect, which conveys a desire to appreciate the other person’s perspective and to come to a mutually-accepted understanding.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Conversation and Active Listening: ‘It seems like I do all the talking.’”

Read “Giving Advice: ‘She never listens to me.’”

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7 keys to a great relationship

Watch “7 keys to a great relationship” by clicking on the title or picture below:

This video shows what the essential requirements are for having a fantastic relationship. My friends Sarah and Miles enact the good, the bad and the ugly.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Ten Keys to a Great Relationship: ‘The magic is gone.’”

Read “What happened to our relationship? It used to be so great.”

Posted in Happiness, Relationship Skills | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“My boyfriend broke up with me last week.”

"Prism" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Prism” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“Hi Alison,

My boyfriend broke up with me last week. He was always a little suspicious because I started seeing him before I broke up with my previous boyfriend. He said he loves me but he’s unhappy and doesn’t desire me anymore. He also said that there might be an opportunity for us in the future. I don’t know what to think.



It sounds to me as though he has mixed feelings about you, as most people do when they are honest and are able to handle ambivalence in a new relationship. At least he’s not like many people who, in order to justify breaking up, vilify the other person and forget all the good experiences they shared.

My guess is that the reason he says he doesn’t rule out getting back together in the future is that he either wants to soften the blow of breaking up with you or he wants to keep his options open.

Possible Reasons For the Breakup

1. The fact that he doesn’t desire you any more may be because he thinks you are untrustworthy given that you started seeing him before you broke up with your previous boyfriend. He may love you and be attracted to you, but he doesn’t want to risk experiencing the pain of potential betrayal.

2. Or perhaps he’s just responding to the normal waning of fascination that inevitably occurs in any romantic relationship. He may be the type who is always seeking that initial excitement when two people initially fall in love. You can probably look at his past history to see if he has had a continuous stream of short-term relationships. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t want to try to have a long-term relationship with him anyway.

3. Another possibility is that he has met someone else and doesn’t want to admit it.

4. Or there may be something bothering him that he is not telling you in order to spare your feelings. If you are curious for the purpose of understanding and your personal growth, you might ask him to tell you what he thinks is missing in your relationship.

5. Finally, there may be something else going on in his life that he hasn’t talked to you about. He says he’s unhappy. You never know if he is facing some other challenges in his life.

Whatever the reason is, if I were you, I would view him as a friend if that is possible, and move on with your life. There is nothing more gratifying than being with someone who really wants to be with you. Also, try keeping your next own relationships clean in terms of trustworthiness. Break up before you date a new person, and everyone involved will respect you more.

Good luck,


Read “I think I am a pursuer. My girlfriend initiated a breakup. I want to salvage this relationship. What can I do?”

Read “He left me after six months of being together. I keep hoping he’ll come back. Should I call him?”

Posted in Conflict | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest Author Sam Vaknin: Inner Voices, False Narratives, Narcissism, and Codependence

"Snobberville" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Snobberville” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Guest Author Sam Vaknin writes:

The narcissist constructs a narrative of his life that is partly confabulated and whose purpose is to buttress, demonstrate, and prove the veracity of the fantastically grandiose and often impossible claims made by the False Self. This narrative allocates roles to significant others in the narcissist’s personal history. Inevitably, such a narrative is hard to credibly sustain for long: reality intrudes and a yawning abyss opens between the narcissist’s self-imputed divinity and his drab, pedestrian existence and attributes. I call it the Grandiosity Gap. Additionally, meaningful figures around the narcissist often refuse to play the parts allotted to them, rebel, and abandon the narcissist.

The narcissist copes with this painful and ineluctable realization of the divorce between his self-perception and this less than stellar state of affairs by first denying reality, delusionally ignoring and filtering out all inconvenient truths. Then, if this coping strategy fails, the narcissist invents a new narrative, which accommodates and incorporates the very intrusive data that served to undermine the previous, now discarded narrative. He even goes to the extent of denying that he ever had another narrative, except the current, modified one.

The narcissist’s (and the codependent’s) introjects and inner voices (assimilated representations of parents, role models, and significant peers) are mostly negative and sadistic. Rather than provide succour, motivation, and direction, they enhance his underlying ego-dystony (discontent with who he is) and the lability of his sense of self-worth.

Introjects possess a crucial role in the formation of an exegetic (interpretative) framework which allows one to decipher the world, construct a model of reality, of one’s place in it, and, consequently of who one is (self-identity). Overwhelmingly negative introjects – or introjects which are manifestly fake, fallacious, and manipulative – hamper the narcissist’s and codependent’s ability to construct a true and efficacious exegetic (interpretative) framework.

Gradually, the disharmony between one’s perception of the universe and of oneself and reality becomes unbearable and engenders pathological, maladaptive, and dysfunctional attempts to either deny the hurtful discrepancy away (delusions and fantasies); grandiosely compensate for it by eliciting positive external voices to counter the negative, inner ones (narcissism via the False Self and its narcissistic supply); attack it (antisocial/psychopathy); withdraw from the world altogether (schizoid solution); or disappear by merging and fusing with another person (codependence.)

by Sam Vaknin, Author of the comprehensive book on narcissism “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited.”

Read Sam Vaknin’s “Please Don’t Leave me!” When Your Abuser Becomes Codependent

Read “Symptoms of Narcissism.”

Posted in Personality Traits, Vaknin, Sam PhD, Visiting Authors | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment