When a situation feels intolerable to me, I have a few choices about what to do:

  • I can seethe in silence.
  • I can complain bitterly to anyone who will listen.
  • I can take an action that will change things, hopefully for the better.

When we complain about a situation, or “vent,” we are actually releasing some of the pressure we feel when we are in the situation, so it feels slightly less intolerable.

This is not necessarily a good thing.

Have you noticed when you “vent” to someone about some horrible situation (you had 4 double-booked appointments today, the nurse manager told you you weren’t seeing enough patients to justify your salary, you found out you were on call the weekend of your birthday) you usually feel just a little bit better?

Not great, just a little bit better.

That’s because as the situation becomes more intolerable to you, there is increased pressure to “do something” about it. When you vent or complain, you decrease the pressure just enough so you can continue to tolerate it.

You can spend your whole life “tolerating” an intolerable situation by complaining and venting about it.

And that’s definitely not a good thing.

I recommend trying an experiment. Instead of complaining, write your complaint down on a piece of paper. At the end of the day, take a look at your list and see if you have done anything to make any of your complaints better.

Don’t allow yourself to start complaining again.

No more talk. You don’t have to act but you can’t complain or vent.

My guess is that eventually (or immediately!) you will start doing something positive about the things you used to complain about.

  • You might gently remind the front desk they need to ask you before they double-book your schedule.
  • You might do a Google search and find out the average family medicine doctor brings about a million dollars in revenue to the hospital they attend.
  • You might email the person making the schedule to remind them you asked for your birthday off (or ask a colleague to switch if you didn’t take it off.)

Try this experiment and see what happens when you no longer complain.

When I stopped complaining about a job I held many years ago, I found myself going to the powers-that-be to ask for some changes—which got me nowhere.

This was good information, which I would never have known had I just continued to complain.

As a result of that information, I made some changes. The result? New job—less work, same pay.

What are you complaining about these days? What will happen if you stop complaining—and act?

Subscribe To My Newsletter

I send out a monthly newsletter and an occasional quick email with news, events, or resources. Plus, you will receive instant access to an article containing tools that will help you start living your best life today!

(I will never share your email with anyone else—I won't sell it, either!)