Complaining is a way of life for some people. It was certainly
a way of life for my mother. I donï¿½t remember a day going by without
her complaining, endlessly. I donï¿½t think I ever heard a word of
gratitude out of my motherï¿½s mouth. No matter how good things were,
she would manage to find something wrong. No matter how perfect
I was ï¿½ and God knows I tried to be perfect! ï¿½ she always found
something wrong with me, as well as with my father.
Over the years of counseling others, Iï¿½ve noticed that some people
start every session with a complaint. They canï¿½t seem to help it.
Like my mother, they are addicted to complaining.
Why do people complain? What is it they want or hope for when
People who complain are generally people who have not done the
emotional and spiritual work of developing a loving, compassionate
inner adult self. They are operating as a wounded child in need
of love, attention and compassion. Because they have not learned
to give themselves the attention and compassion they need, they
seek to get these needs met by others. Complaining is a way they
have learned to attempt to get this. They use complaining as a form
of control, hoping to guilt others into giving them the attention,
caring and compassion they seek.
Complaining is a ï¿½pullï¿½ on other people. Energetically, complainers
are pulling on others for caring and understanding because they
have emotionally abandoned themselves. They are like demanding little
children. The problem is that most people dislike being pulled on
and demanded of. Most people donï¿½t want emotional responsibility
for another person and will withdraw in the face of anotherï¿½s complaints.
This is what my father did. He withdrew, shut down, was emotionally
unavailable to my mother as a way to protect himself from being
controlled by her complaints. Of course, he didnï¿½t just do this
in response to my mother. He had learned to withdraw as a child
in response to his own motherï¿½s complaints and criticism. He entered
the marriage ready to withdraw in the face of my motherï¿½s pull,
while she entered the marriage ready to make my father emotionally
responsible for her. A perfect match!
My fatherï¿½s withdrawal, of course, only served to exacerbate
my motherï¿½s complaining, and she constantly complained about my
fatherï¿½s lack of caring about her. Likewise, my motherï¿½s complaining
served to exacerbate my fatherï¿½s already withdrawn way of being.
This vicious circle started early and continued unabated for the
60 years of their marriage, until my mother died.
While my parents loved each other, their ability to express their
love got buried beneath the dysfunctional system they created. Unfortunately,
this is all too common in relationships. One person pulling ï¿½ with
complaints, anger, judgment, and other forms of control - and the
other withdrawing, is the most common relationship system I work
A person addicted to complaining will not be able to stop complaining
until he or she does the inner work of developing an adult part
of themselves capable of giving themselves the love, caring, understanding
and compassion they need. As long as they believe that it is anotherï¿½s
responsibility to be the adult for them and fill them with love,
they will not take on this responsibility for themselves.
Our inner child ï¿½ the feeling part of us ï¿½ needs attention, approval,
caring. If we donï¿½t learn to give this to ourselves, then this wounded
child part of ourselves will either seek to get it from others,
or learn to numb out with substance and process addictions ï¿½ food,
alcohol, drugs, TV, work, gambling, and so on. If, as a child, a
person saw others get attention through complaining ï¿½ as my mother
did with my grandmother ï¿½ and if complaining worked for the child
to get what he or she wanted, then it can become an addiction. Like
all addictions, it may work for the moment, but it will never fill
the deep inner need for love. Only we can fill this need for ourselves,
by opening our hearts to the Source of love. Only we can do the
inner work of developing a loving adult capable of opening to the
love of Spirit and bringing that love to the child within. People
stop complaining when they learn to fill themselves with love.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author
of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be
Loved By You?" and ï¿½Healing Your Aloneness.ï¿½ She is the
co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process.