How often do you catch yourself complaining about your boss’s attitude, your kids’ behavior, your friends’ neediness, your overcrowded schedule, your constant aches and pains? The list could go on and on. Most people love to complain, so much so that it gets turned into a competition. At one point or another, I bet you have said something like, “You think your day was bad; wait until you hear about mine” or “Your son sounds like an angel compared to mine lately.”
For some reason, we have bought into the idea that complaining about our difficulties will make us feel better, even if only by getting us a little sympathy. But complaining isn’t an end in itself; it’s actually the catalyst for a vicious cycle. When we get attention or comfort by complaining about one thing, we’re more likely to start complaining about something else. We start complaining a little more often. Before long, those complaints become self-fulfilling prophecies. What may have begun as a small irritation grows into a more substantial problem because we have continued to feed it with words, words, and more words.
Truth is, no one likes a complainer. After a while, other people will start tuning you out. The problem is that you can’t tune yourself out. Your inner ear is paying close attention to every word you say and your subconscious is working to reinforce each one’s truth. The more you talk about your struggles, the more strength you give them. As they gain strength, you’ll want to talk about them even more—and the vicious cycle ensues. That’s why, in his letter to the Philippian church, Paul wrote, “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (Phil. 2:14).
Paul understood that complaining never leads to anything positive but only to more trouble and more difficult situations. While we should never remain quiet about true mistreatment or injustices, complaining about every little thing that’s wrong in our lives will do nothing but perpetuate our problems.
The above was taken as an excerpt from Tongue Pierced: How the Words You Speak Transform the Life You Live by Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson. For more information on how you can use your words to build a better life, visit tonguepierced.com.
Nelson Searcy is the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church and the author of more than 80 church leadership resources, including 14 best-selling books. He currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida, with his family. Jennifer Dykes Henson is a writer based in New York City. Before finding success with Tongue Pierced, Jennifer worked with Dr. Charles Stanley for In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.