Meaning to Moaning

Nobody likes a nag. In fact it infuriates us so much that when confronted with an incessant nagger, we are quick to confront, find fault in their ways or even decide to reduce our interaction with them since their constant lamenting or complaining can be heavy to handle.



The amount and the way people moan, like many other psychological behaviours, differ from person to person. Similarly, our level of tolerance to such niggling nags also varies. Some might be immediately allergic to it, while others can stand more of a moaner for longer periods of time. Research shows that women tend to moan more while men tend to be more quickly aggravated by it – what a lethal combination.

There are times in life when we find ourselves in frustrating and challenging situations. We may not be able to immediately deal with it or change things so what do we do? We moan. A good grumble out load or in front of someone who shows sympathy to what we’re going through is actually good for us. Verbally expressing your resentment and anger releases toxins from our system, which if kept inside are likely to cause long-term psychological and physical damage.

Some of these consequences include:

  • An inability to release anger results in accumulated frustration and anxiety
  • A feeling of uncontrollability over emotions
  • Loss of controllability over circumstances in life
  • Lack of understanding about ourselves and others
  • Stress
  • Inability to cope
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feeling like a victim
  • Feeling fragile and sensitive
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Putting our emotional discontent into words has a number of positive outcomes. To begin with, as we’re complaining out loud, we may be able to unravel the situation better. This in turn might lead to understanding the predicament more logically, while removing the emotional components, so that we can arrive at some kind of solution rather than let it fester in our hearts and minds.

Another advantage to managed moaning is that it brings people close together. When we disclose certain information about ourselves, especially topics which might be perceived as personal, we make the other person feel like they are worthy and trusted listeners. So what happens is that people rise to this responsibility, feel honoured about being trusted and begin to activate their mirror neurons of empathy so that they can help in finding a solution or at least creating a safe space for you to let off some steam. Remember, moaning is not always about constructive action – in fact it is more about emotionally releasing certain pent up feelings which are futile.

Expressing our dissatisfaction allows us to externalize a problem, report a fault and bring an issue to surface, which may involve others who need to know what’s going on. However what happens if moaning becomes habituated into someone’s character and no longer related to just a particular situation, but more an add on to almost everything and anything? So from dusk till dawn this person will complain about the weather, the food they eat, service at different establishments, their choices and decisions, how people talk to them, the ringer on their phone, the office environment and the list goes on and on. Sound familiar? I hope not.

These people, sadly, are not after solutions – they want to nag, blame everyone else or want others to ‘fix’ the world for them. These ‘moan monsters’ are likely to have been raised quite protectively, in an unrealistic bubble where everything was done for them. Worse yet, they may have been spoiled by primary care providers that didn’t teach them to do things for themselves and ran to their every whimper, teaching them its not only ok to moan, but that you get lots of love and attention if you do. Gradually these people grow up realizing that life doesn’t work this way. Not only do people feel quite agitated by a constant moaner, but also as we get older, we try and stay away from such people because it is draining and destructive.

If you or a loved one seem to be mangled in moaning, ask yourself two very simple questions.

1. How realistic does my discontent sound?

2. Am I just moaning or truly after a solution?

When these two questions have been objectively answered, you can reach a more emotionally balanced state of being, without feeling like the problem has consumed you. It is here that we begin to clear our minds and feel immediately more in control of the issue, without allowing the moaning to manage us.

Remember, learning more results in living more…over to you…

Samineh I Shaheem is an author, an assistant professor of psychology, currently lecturing in Dubai, as well as a cross-cultural consultant at HRI. She has studied and worked in different parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, and the UAE. She co hosts a radio programme (Psyched Sundays 10-12pm) every Sunday morning on Dubai Eye discussing the most relevant psychological issues in our community.

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