Complaining, judging and making excuses. At first glance, there is one unrelated one. Apart from the fact that we all do it sometimes, is there anything else they have in common?
Yes, their incredibly destructive potential.
In this article, I want to show you these three behaviors. The goal is to analyse, explain and review solutions on how to break up with them forever.
Excuses – what they are and why we create them
Are some of these words familiar to you?
- Comfort zone;
If at least three of these conditions are useful to you, you are permanently struggling with constantly making excuses.
- “Not reported because the teacher hated me.”
- “I’m too old to dance.”
- “Start on Monday. Starting in the middle of the week at a bad time…”
We all make excuses from time to time. It is widely believed that excuses are a facade of laziness, while science shows that they can be seen as a factor of self. The basic mechanism revealed by excuses is an unpleasant state of cognitive dissonance. Feeling uncomfortable when our thoughts, behavior and/or attitude are inconsistent.
e.g If it’s good that you are a good student, failing the test puts you in a state of cognitive dissonance.
As humans, we pursue a goal: we want our thoughts, actions, actions and the outside world to be achieved. When we experience inconsistency, we look for ways to solve it. Try to justify our behavior by adding new aspects to the story or trying to get conflicting information that causes inconsistency.
I present to you some of those that occur:
- Sour grape rationalization: “I failed the exam because the teacher hates me.”
- Trivialization: changing beliefs to reduce the severity of the situation and the level of dissonance. The exam wasn’t that important anyway.
- Sweet Lemon Rationalization: “This person is boring, I didn’t want to date them anyway. They’re much better off with X.” “I didn’t want to get into university, I wanted to take a year off and travel.”
- Distractions: instead of doing what we should, we procrastinate, convincing ourselves that we are doing something good, such as resting, studying, reading, cleaning, talking to friends, etc.
Cognitive dissonance may be the primary mechanism for making excuses, but why? Fear.
Fear of failure, against liability, from uncertainty, from shame, from change, even fear of success (procrastination – because success itself comes with certain responsibilities);
If making excuses becomes a lifelong strategy, things can easily go off track. Refusing to take responsibility, losing the trust of others, procrastinating, and not reaching your full potential are just some of the consequences.
Fortunately, you can prevent this. And it’s not a matter of talent, environment or even intelligence: it’s just a matter of will and choice.
How to stop making excuses
1. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
While comparing ourselves to other people is part and parcel of human nature, it also makes us vulnerable to the fear of failure and failure.
The only comparison worth our attention is the comparison with ourselves. How do you imagine the best version of yourself? How close are you to this image? What do you need to achieve this?
Practice self-love and focus on yourself and your personal improvement instead of looking at other people’s backyards. We are all different and there is no point in comparing ourselves to others.
2. CULTIVATE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE: PRACTICE GRATITUDE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Excuses are created through fear and dissatisfaction. Negative emotions and attitudes generate negative behaviors. The best way to end this is to focus on the positives. There are two excellent practices for boosting morale and instilling positivity: practicing gratitude and practicing affirmations.
Instilling a positive attitude is a process, not a one-time trick. Take the time and be consistent in the daily practice of a positive attitude.
3. Redefine the meaning of “failure” and “errors”
It happens that fear causes us to avoid risk at all costs and become victims of the belief that our talents or personal limitations are predetermined.
When this becomes our only reality, we are left with no choice but to make excuses – usually we end up procrastinating or blaming external factors for our lack of success. Fortunately, that’s not the case. So work and redefining the meaning of success, mistakes and failures is the way to achieve a growth mindset and a more productive life.
Failures and mistakes are an inevitable part of any success. Success comes from surviving the countless failures and mistakes you make along the way.
Start seeing lessons in your failures/mistakes.
4. Realize that imperfections are OK
Imperfections are not a reason to cry, but they are what make us unique human beings. Thinking about your imperfections can only slow you down and push you deeper into the well.
Take the time to accept your mistakes, analyze them, analyze the lessons you can learn from this experience, and move on.
Complaining: what it is and why we do it
Complaining is nothing more than an expression of dissatisfaction, opposition, concern, or irritation. And while there’s nothing wrong with occasionally complaining (it may even feel liberating), turning it into a habit can have some negative effects.
In addition to being irritating to those around us, such a pessimistic attitude can also be harmful to our health.
Complaining has a lot to do with our mental health. Combined with factors such as lower activity levels, sadness, emptiness, loss of interest, or trouble sleeping, constant complaining can also be a symptom of depression.
TOP 5 REASONS WHY PEOPLE COMPLAIN
- Frustration: The inability to achieve a specific goal or need can result in frustration and complaining.
- Pessimism and depression: when something is wrong inside, we tend to bring it out. The end result is often negative attitude and complaining.
- Family Culture: If you grow up in an environment where people complain about everything all the time, that becomes your modus operandi.
- Note: For some people, complaining is a way to get the attention of others. There is no shame in noticing this as a personal pattern and trying to improve it.
- Negativity Tendency: Humans are programmed to notice and experience bad things with more intensity than good things. This can cultivate a complaining mentality.
How to stop complaining – some simple tips
1. TALK ABOUT EMOTIONS INSTEAD OF FRUSTRATIONS
Try to talk about your true feelings instead of complaining. Complaining is a signal that something is wrong. Feelings, on the other hand, help us understand the reason for such feelings. Feelings bring you closer to other people, and expressing your emotions allows you to overcome adversity.
2. VENTILATE ELSE
Physical activity, art classes, hobbies or keeping a diary are the perfect way to relieve a bad mood. Instead of continuing to spoil your mood by complaining, focus on the activity that brings you joy. Whatever you choose for your ventilation, make sure that:
You like it.
Find the activity satisfying.
You feel relieved after that.
3. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
Complaining about something that directly or indirectly bothers you is a form of passive, reactive behavior that gets you nowhere. If you want to see change, take full responsibility for what is happening in your life. Take a more proactive, responsible role and either resolve the situation or accept it, let it go, and move on.
4. CAUGHT IN THIS ACTION
The hardest part about changing a behavior is recognizing it in the moment.
Look for clues in other people’s reactions, observe your own behavior, or ask someone close to you to tell you when they notice you complain too much.
Assessment: what it is and why we do it
Judging a person doesn’t define them. It defines you.– Anonymous
Studies show that it only takes 0.1 seconds to form an opinion about another person. And while the accuracy of this impression can vary wildly, one thing is certain – they are very consistent.
As humans, we value the first impression very much and it is extremely difficult for us to part with it.
There are so many proverbs about the first impression, emphasizing its important role in our socialization: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” or “The first impression is the last impression.” While valuable, the first impression is not necessarily very accurate. That’s why we say “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
Consequently, based on our judgments about first impressions, we create a distorted first impression called the HALO EFFECT or HALO ERROR. So figuratively speaking, a beautiful, well-dressed person is perceived as a good person, while someone who is untidy is perceived as dangerous.
In fact, it is impossible to be completely free from judgment. This is how our brains work: we combine information based on cultural norms, experiences and parental messages, mix them and draw conclusions.
However, we can catch it and consciously let go.
Another common cognitive bias that follows the halo bias is the fundamental attribution error, which is the tendency to overestimate the importance of a person’s character (before external factors) in certain situations.
We also judge other people because we want to feel better in our own skin.
- “This idea is so stupid” suggests that my idea is better.
- “This presentation is boring” suggests I could do a better one.
- “This is the worst movie ever made,” suggests I would have made a better choice.
- “What’s that outfit?” — suggests I have a more refined style of dressing.
The way we judge other people often reflects our fear of what others think of us. We try to align our judgments with our assumptions about other people’s opinions.
How to stop judging?
Here are some simple tips that should help you become less judgmental.
1. ACCEPT YOURSELF
Making judgments can be a social survival strategy. We organize our world into categories and combine elements that don’t necessarily go together: every fluffy dog wants a hug, and every muscular dog wants a bite. This strategy helps us to survive in difficult conditions, but as a side effect it causes harmful prejudices.
Look inside yourself and try to understand your needs. What is the source of your negative judgment? The sooner you understand and accept yourself, the sooner you will be able to recognize and let go of toxic behaviors.
2. PRACTICE LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING
Love is non-judgment.– Dalai Lama
Although judgment is a natural instinct, you can control it by changing the way you think. Replace the mindset of scarcity and do everything out of love. Treat others with empathy, love, and respect, and that’s what you’ll get in return. Judge them and they’ll probably reciprocate.
3. AVOID COLLECTING EVERYTHING IN PERSON
If someone is behaving badly around you for no apparent reason, it’s probably not about you. Still, don’t judge. Judging will make you bitter and unpleasant, while letting things go can help you rise above the situation and understand it better.
Do you ever wake up thinking, Oh what a day! I’m gonna ruin someone’s day today!
NO? Well, we assure you that no one does. Try not to get addicted. It’s not about you. Judging will do you no good.
4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD
One of the best antidotes to judgment is observation.
The more you observe the world around you, the less you take it personally.
This is how psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists avoid judging in unpleasant situations: they observe. No one is born free from judgment, it all depends on practice. You can develop observational skills through the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude. They make you more self-aware, aware of other people’s emotions, and open you up to many perspectives.
Let’s briefly summarize some of the main points:
Complaining, judging and making excuses is normal – we all do it sometimes. This can be harmful if we do it excessively due to the increased overall negativity that follows these behaviors.Fortunately, there are things you can do to change your mindset, improve your habits, and change your attitude and mindset, which will further help you overcome these toxic behaviors.
Remember that change is not easy to achieve. It takes time and practice because change is a process, not a step.