People who constantly complain but never make changes often display these 8 behaviors without realizing it

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Do you ever feel like you or someone you know is stuck in a never-ending loop of complaints without taking any real steps to change things? 

I’ve been there myself, and let me tell you, it’s not a fun place to be.

But why do we do this? Why do we get caught up in the cycle of constant grumbling without actually doing anything to improve our situation? And how can we change?

Well, I’ve noticed a few key behaviors that seem to go hand-in-hand with this frustrating pattern.

Based on personal experiences and observations of others, I’ve put together a list of behaviors that reveal the complainer who never changes. 

Let’s dig deeper into these signs – we can all learn to be a bit happier if we know about them.

1) A gloomy outlook 

First off, there’s the perpetual pessimism. It’s like every silver lining also has a lining of ‘blah’.. 

I once had a roommate who embodied this to perfection. 

No matter what good news came her way, she could always find a way to spin it into a negative. Got a promotion at work? Great, now there’s more responsibility and stress. Finally went on a date with her crush? Awesome, but he probably won’t call back.

Being around that energy was emotionally draining, to say the least. It’s hard to remain cheerful when you’re constantly being overshadowed by other people’s gloomy storm clouds.

This isn’t about seeing only rainbows and sunshine in the world despite the reality, rather, in the words of William Arthur Ward:

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

2) A lack of laughter

Which brings me to my next point: the laughter deficit. 

Have you ever noticed how chronic complainers rarely crack a genuine smile? Let alone a belly laugh.

I remember going through a rough patch where I was fixated on everything that was going wrong in my life and in the world.

I was so consumed by my own misery that I couldn’t even enjoy a funny movie or a night out with friends. My sense of humor had gone AWOL, leaving me on full alert to wallow in the sadnesses of life.

Looking back, I realize how much I was missing out on by not allowing myself to experience those little moments of lightness and joy.

3) Feeling less lucky

Then there’s the “woe is me” mentality. 

People who complain a lot tend to see themselves as perpetual victims of circumstance. The interesting thing is that how you perceive your life and luck affects how lucky you are.

It reminds me of an experiment by hypnotist and mentalist Derren Brown where he had a group of self-proclaimed “unlucky” people join his lucky group

As a test to see how they saw themselves, he would throw ‘lucky’ opportunities around, like a $50 note on the floor or chances to enter a free lottery.

The most self-proclaimed unlucky people missed almost all the opportunities.

But here’s where things get weird. Some people started to believe that they were in fact more lucky. Derren Brown took them to the fairground to play games of 100% chance. And, unbelievably, those who now believed they were lucky, won more often.

This should give us all pause for thought, and a reason to make sure our positive thoughts are not weighed down by negativity.

And really, isn’t this all a metaphor for the chronic complainer? They get so weighed down by life and perceived slights that they fail to recognize the opportunities and blessings right in front of them. And by virtue of believing in that, they become less lucky.

4) A stooped posture

Even the way chronic complainers hold themselves can be telling. The weight of their negativity is literally dragging them down. 

I had a coworker once who was well-known for his constant complaining. And every time I saw him, his shoulders were slumped and his face was covered with a permanent scowl. A kind of ‘resting defeat’ face. His body language seemed to be shouting out his insecurities.

But here’s the thing: our posture does actually influence our mood. Studies have shown that simply standing up straight and putting a smile on your face can trick your brain into feeling happier and more confident. 

So if you find yourself slouching under the burden of your own complaints, try adjusting your stance. It might just give you the boost you need to start tackling your problems.

Many people work with a dedicated bodywork therapist, and find that by working on their posture, it changes their being and fixes issues in their lives.

5) Stuck in a loop

Of course, one of the most frustrating things about chronic complainers is their tendency to get stuck on the same issues over and over again. Broken record anyone?

I’ve been guilty of this myself. There have been times when I’ve gotten so fixated on a particular problem or grievance that I couldn’t see past it.

I would vent about the same thing to anyone who would listen, but I wasn’t actually doing anything to change my circumstances. People stopped wanting to offer advice because they knew it was pointless.

It’s easy to get comfortable in our own misery. But if we want things to get better, we have to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone, try new things and take action.

6) Speaking as if the worst is inevitable

Another common trait among chronic complainers is a fatalistic outlook. 

I dated a guy like this once. Whenever I would get excited about an upcoming trip or opportunity, he would immediately start listing all the ways it could go wrong. 

“Don’t get your hopes up,” he’d warn. “Something always goes wrong.”

With that kind of attitude, it’s no wonder he was stuck in a rut. If you’re constantly anticipating the worst, you’ll miss out on all the joy and excitement that life has to offer.

Similarly, my Dad has tended to be very fatalistic, suspecting he has had a life-threatening disease since his 40s (he is 80 now and still fine). And assuming the worst about other people’s behaviors and intentions.

We must be compassionate with ourselves and others who do this, since it is a way to protect oneself from harm; always suspect the worst and you might be surprised if it is better

Although that sounds helpful, in reality, as we have seen, it can actually get in the way of positive experiences and happiness.

If people don’t have a sense of agency then they don’t believe that they or anyone else can change for the better.

7) They are often restless

Those who complain a lot often struggle to find contentment in their current circumstances. They’re always seeking out the next thing they think will finally make them happy. Or keeping busy to stop themselves from needing to look inward.

I’ve fallen into this trap myself. I would set these arbitrary benchmarks for my own satisfaction – “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion,” “I’ll be fulfilled when I move to a new country,” etc. 

But the goalpost was always moving. No matter what I achieved or acquired, there was always something else I thought I needed to feel complete. 

Don’t get me wrong, certain life changes have been great for me. I love living in warm climates near the water for example.

But beyond a certain point, we have to know that happiness is an inside job. We can’t rely on external circumstances to give us lasting joy and peace. We don’t know what the weather will bring tomorrow. Instead, we have to learn to cultivate peaceful feelings from within.

8) Always looking for the next thing to fix themselves

Which brings me to my final point: the elusive quick fix.

Chronic complainers who want to change, but don’t, are often drawn to anything that promises to magically solve all their problems.

They might bounce from one self-help trend to the next, believing that the next book, seminar or Instagram ‘guru’ will be the one that finally transforms their life. In their minds, it’s always the next plan, the next change, that holds the key to their happiness. 

And it’s always the case of ‘if only’ – If only, I lived somewhere else, if only, I had a different job, if only…

However, deep down, they either feel incapable of changing, are overwhelmed by the idea of the enormous effort it requires, or simply are not ready to take a step forward yet. 

Whether it’s their defense mechanism for better connection or a result of enduring stress, understanding the root of their constant complaints can help you or them find more effective ways to manage their frustrations.

But here’s the hard truth: Personal growth and positive change are important to aim for, but require time, effort, and consistency.

It’s about showing up every day (or as much as you can) and doing the work, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.

Final thoughts for those who want to break free from complaining and experience more joy

Trust me, I’ve gone down my fair share of fruitless personal development rabbit holes. But it wasn’t until I started focusing on small, sustainable habits and mindset shifts that I started seeing real results. Like morning journaling or going outside my house soon after I wake.

So if you find yourself stuck in a cycle of constant complaints, know that you have the power to break free. It won’t happen overnight, but with self-awareness, determination, and a commitment to taking action, you can start creating positive change in your life.

Identify the thoughts and behaviors that are keeping you stuck, and replace them with ones that serve your goals and values. 

Surround yourself with people and influences that lift you up and inspire you to be your best self.

If necessary reach out to a coach or therapist. Or take a look at microdosing and psilocybin mushroom therapy, which has been scientifically shown to help reset negative thought patterns and give our minds a fresh slate.

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

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