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The Kind of Complaint That Will Hurt You

Many personal development and leadership teachers include some variation on “stop complaining” as key to success and happiness. Recent discoveries have revealed that complaining will hurt you mentally and physically, as summarized in this popular article. Deciding to quit complaining (aka deciding to “Go NoCo”) can fundamentally change your perspective and positively affect all parts of your life.

It’s easier to quit if you can identify the problem, so let’s get speciNo Complaining Guyfic about what kind of complaining is damaging.

Unhealthy complaining is: Expressing a grievance or aggravation in a manner which does not contribute to resolving the problem or issue.


  • Complaining to someone who can do nothing about the problem (e.g., complaining to your spouse about your boss, to a co-worker about your family)
  • Complaining about something that isn’t under anyone’s individual control (e.g., complaining about the weather, traffic, technology, corporations)
  • Expressing a complaint in vague terms, or indirectly (e.g., “this sucks”)
  • Expressing a complaint without making a request for change
  • Complaining using a tone/language that sparks or reinforces conflict or resistance
  • Complaining internally without taking action
  • Complaining about something from the past
  • Complaining about the possibility of something happening in the future
  • Expressing a complaint non-verbally (e.g., glaring without speaking, sulking)


  • Judging
  • Blaming
  • Sarcasm
  • Worrying
  • Insults, Put-Downs
  • Superiority
  • Snark, Being Snide
  • Negative Cross-Talk, Peanut Gallery, Heckling
  • Talking Behind Someone’s Back, Gossip, Bad-Mouthing

Did you read these lists and think, “I know someone who does that”?
Did you read these lists and think, “I do that”?

What would life be like if we avoided destructive negative talk?
What if we addressed problems directly?
What if we were kind to ourselves and others?
What if we were willing to be vulnerable and say what we really want?

That’s the goal of the No Complaining Project. Go NoCo today.

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