Emotional Benefits of Complaining

· November 6, 2015

Many times we “complain” about grumpy people or those who can so easily dampen our day with a simple angry gesture. Many of these people who are “complainers by nature” are using their complaints as a strategy to release their frustration.

The act of complaining allows us to eliminate stress, release our frustration and allows us to recover the energy we need to overcome and address the problems we’re facing.

So how do can complaining be emotionally beneficial?

Different types of complaining

There are different types of complaints. No two complaints are the same. They depend on the source, the emotions experienced by the person who is making them, the emotional context, etc. It is important to understand that not all complaints follow the same “negative” pattern nor should they necessarily be avoided.


A clear example is the difference between complaining about an everyday situation such as our partner not arriving on time for a date or about our boss every day at work. Although the same words are used when expressing our negative emotions, the background is entirely different.

It is important to distinguish the emotional tone that we’re complaining in. If we are angry about something, complaining will allow us to release the discomfort and excess energy produced by the unhappiness. We could say it is good to bear in mind the pivotal moments of our negative emotions before we release our frustration in the wrong way.

Using complaints as an emotional resource

Complaining is an emotional action that can be a helpful tool to relieve tension and discomfort. But it’s importance to be a responsible complainer. If we aren’t careful, it can backfire. We can ruin relationships by excessively repeating our complaints.

If we are experiencing strong negative feelings, and a problem with another person arises, we’ll likely exaggerate our response. If we had expressed our negative feelings before the situation arose, we may not have exploded. For example, say you wake up to find that you have no milk for your coffee. If you don’t complain at that very moment, you’re not releasing the negative energy the situation has generated and the next person who crosses your path might pay for it.

Finally, complaining excessively or feeling perpetually uncomfortable or dissatisfied is a good indicator that we are not doing something right in terms of our emotional management. When we identify this excess negative energy, it may be a good time to start trying to end our workday a little earlier and go home to enjoy an activity we know will charge our batteries with positive energy.

It is very common after a hard day at work, to return home full of pent up negative energy and frustration after having been unable to release it during the work day. Making a complaint in silence to ourselves or out loud will allow us to release this stored tension, eliminating our possible bad mood and rest a lot better when we go to bed.

Complaining is useful, but we shouldn’t overdo it.

When we express a complaint we must consider what we want to achieve with it. Complaints are most effective when expressed on their own, separately from any requests for additional action.

A good complaint made in a timely manner can be very useful, both to free yourself from a negative emotional state as well as to get something to change in the real world, but remember that complaints, especially when they have to do with other people, can quickly spiral out of control. 

It’s good to be aware that complaining can serve as a stopgap, but the discomfort and negative emotions we feel on the inside return over time if we do not find a solution for them. So, it is important to develop other strategies to solve our problems.