During a normal conversation, most people will express a negative thought once in every minute. Complaining isn’t about torturing others with your negativity; it’s more about venting. We think it makes us feel better if we release our emotions. Research shows you do experience a good feeling while you complain. It has also been shown, that like all things that make you feel good such as eating too many sweets; it is not healthy for you to complain.
How Our Brains Make It Easy To Complain
Efficiency is one of the things our brains like most so it doesn’t have to work as hard. Complaining is a repeated behavior that causes the neurons in your brain to branch out to one another so your brain doesn’t have to work as hard the next time you get crabby. This branching out of neurons makes it easier for you to continue being negative without even realizing how cynical you’ve become.
This creation of neuron bridges continues to grow the more you repeat the behavior of complaining. This re-wiring of your brain will allow you to become more negative than positive no matter what events are occurring in your day. Complaining will become the ‘norm’ for you and others will begin to see you differently.
How Your Brain Rewires
The brain is a collection of synapses separated by space known as the synaptic cleft. When you have a thought, one of these synapses sends a chemical across to another synapse and builds a bridge where the electric signal can cross, and your thought is carried with it. Every time this electrical signal is created, the synapse grows closer together, so the distance it has to cross is less. Your brain is rewiring its circuitry to make it easier for the proper synapse to share the chemical link and spark together, resulting in it being easier for the complaint, in this instance, to trigger. To make it somewhat simpler; this process makes complaining once easier for you to complain again.
Complaining Is Unhealthy
One might think complaining makes them feel good as they are releasing held-back emotions. What happens when you complain is release a stress hormone, cortisol into your system. This hormone puts you in a fight-or-flight mode where oxygen is redirected, along with blood and energy, away from the rest of your system. This redirection means your blood pressure and blood sugar levels will rise as your body prepares to defend itself or escape.
Over time as your system releases all this cortisol by your constant complaining, your immune system will become impaired. An impaired immune system puts you at risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, or high cholesterol. Your brain will also be more vulnerable to strokes when your immune system is impaired.
Types Of Complainers
According to a professor at Clemson University, Dr. Robin Kowalski everyone complains at one point or another. Through Dr. Kowalski’s studies, he’s found there are different types of complainers.
- Chronic complainers are people who live in an almost constant state of complaint. They will continuously think about their claim and not experience that happy feeling of release after they’ve voiced their negativity. This form of complaining will make you feel worse and cause you more anxiety and worry.
- Venters are people unhappy with a situation and do not want to hear solutions to their complaints. It will not matter to this type of person if the answer is helpful, they just want to continue ‘venting.’
Sympathy seekers are the type who continuously fish for attention. They will always have situations worse than yours. This kind of person will always have a complaint about something occurring in their life.
How To End The Cycle
Just as you may have rewired your brain with all your complaining and negative thoughts, you can reverse the process. Instead of thinking about criticism, how you’re a victim of some action, worrying about things you can’t change, start thinking about positive effects.
We can retrain our brains to think with practice. Begin thinking how grateful you are for even the smallest things. Be aware of what you’re thinking and if it’s negative, change course and stop. You will find that the more you look for the good in things; the easier it will become to find them. Another good practice is to surround yourself with positive people. Being with those who are upbeat and happy will help you stay focused on happier thoughts.
You don’t always want to be that person that finds fault with yourself and others. You need to be someone who sees things as they are and make peace with what you can’t change. This new attitude with life will end your complaining and negativity and rewire your brain to help you become a better you.