If you're looking forward to renewing your commitment to more positive forms of self-expression, fear not. The following are some strategies I'm using to say only things worth saying:
This is a technique that many therapists recommend for a variety of issues, because it works well. When an undesirable thought enters your head, you literally interrupt it with the mental image of a stop sign or the word "stop!", and move on to a different thought.
Writing in a journal brings many health and wellness-related benefits. This activity can also provide a great opportunity for venting frustrations, and keeping it to yourself. When you find that your hand is cramping, that can be a signal to start writing about more positive things. (Read more about the benefits of journaling.) The trick to effective journaling is to write about the problem and your feelings about it, and then brainstorm solutions and see the positives in your situation.
- Seeking Support
The support of trusted friends and family can be a wonderfully effective stress reliever. Hopefully, most of us are lucky enough to have some supportive and wise people in our lives to talk to when we're down. Instead of complaining to them (for too long), we can laugh with them. And sometimes a little complaining can bring validation or potential solutions, which make it easier to let go and move onto happier topics.
- Remaining Grateful
Focusing on the positive things in life can be a wonderful distraction from the negatives. Building gratitude has been shown to be an effective tool for stress relief as well. And it's hard to complain when you're thinking about how lucky you are! (Read more about the benefits of gratitude and how to cultivate it.)
- Taking Action
The urge to complain comes from a dissatisfaction with something that's going on in one's life (often coupled with a feeling of inability to change it). Complaints can be a signal that action is needed, so the next time you feel the urge to complain, focus instead on possible plans to change your circumstances--even if you're not ready to act on them, having a short list right there can help you to move out of focusing on what has you feeling "stuck," and toward what will help you to feel better!
- Cultivating Optimism
It's much easier to drop negative habits by replacing them with positive ones. Replacing negative thoughts and words with optimistic ones brings so many benefits, it's worth trying even if you're not planning on giving up complaining anytime soon. (Read about the benefits of optimism, and find out how you can cultivate an optimistic outlook.)