Origin: "to beat the breast"
To claim or express pain, displeasure, a grievance, etc.
To find fault; declare annoyance
To make an accusaton; bring a formal charge

                                              (Webster's New World College Dictionary)

Complaining is a form of a racket, most often, in that it has an illusion of getting a payoff while incurring a cost that is greater.  It is different than noting that something isn't working and then proceeding to a solution.  It is a degree of whining, which as a child seemed to serve one to get attention and hope for someone else solving the problem.  It is typically a "right/wrong" or "good/bad" conversation, akin to "ain't it awful" and "I am a victim", combined.

It also comes in the form of a conclusion based on a story that is held as fact but is only made-up.  An example would be Life Is Hard And Difficult. which is stated as if it were a truth, where (selected) evidence is attached to prove it, and it is not recognized that it comes strictly from a "made-up" point of view.  (See Story.) 

Recognize that "life is hard and difficult" is a complaint, and as such it will have similar payoffs and costs as other complaints. 


It could be true that different people have different payoffs and/or place different importance on them.   Nevertheless, they all seem to be some form of these:

I think I will get another to do something.  (And rackets do work sometimes, but there may be a better way to get things to work, such as requests made clearly in the sense of cooperativeness, which would cause no damage and would cause a net benefit.)
I am affirming that I am powerless and having to get another to do something for me proves it.
I will get attention from another person (after all it worked with my parents when I was a baby or a child...).
I will get to be "right about it."  (See, it is bad and I am a victim and/or someone mistreated me, etc.)
I am seeking agreement, so that I am justified and so that I have the support and loyalty of the other person as a co-complainant (it worked as a child, so I got out of being responsible.


It adds another nail to the coffin wherein my aliveness and power are buried.  It is more proof of my story of being a victim, powerless, etc.

It justifies why I can't make my life better, why I am powerless - reaffirming and embedding it into my automatic thinking.

It damages my relationships with either the target of it and/or the person listening thinks less of me.

It puts me in a victim mode such that I am not responsible for my life. 

               if you have more ideas to contribute to this, please.  Or comments or elucidations....


First of all, look at the payoffs that you believe exist and decide if they are absolutely true, provably so.  If they are true, how valuable are they?  A little value or alot?  We need to know the payoffs and their total value in order to weigh them against the costs so that we can make a good decision.

How big and important are the costs?  Are they greater than the payoffs? 

(The general form for decisions such as these: The Ben Franklin T, under the Problem Solving And Decision Making section - which capability you should develop fully if you truly want a happy life.)

Since complaining is a racket, the Worksheet For Rackets would be appropriate to use, either the simple or the more complete format.

email me

A complaint is not just "identifying a problem".  It is an emotional device to get attention or to be right about something, plus claim victimhood of it.

Problem solving objectively identifies the problem but immediately goes into an exploration of what can be done to solve it.  The "problem" is never brought up without the idea of progressing to something better. 

The complaint, then, is from a largely negative view, whereas the problem solving is from a positive view toward making progress - to attain a true payoff of real value.

When a person repeats a "story" identifying, once again, that the fault is "out there", the person is not in a problem solving mode, though the person might claim he/she is.  A non-story teller only identifies the cause of a problem solely for the purpose of making progress - and they don't drive the complaint home again and again and again.

And, yes, it is a complaint when one simply, innocently (?) traces back any of his/her problems to his/her parents causing them - and repeats it in any other than a true problem solving approach.