How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity
We often describe complaining as our expression of resentment or discontent towards something. Most people call it “venting,” but they often overlook all the negative impacts that “complaining” has on their lives and brains. Humans complain about an average of 15 to 30 times a day when things do not go in their favor. You will probably be unable to come up with a number if we ask you how many times you have complained today. While most of the people who complain do not want to inflict something negative on someone else, they end up harming themselves and the ones around them.
We usually use complaining as a tool to justify our aggression, resentments, and emotions in general. However, people who believe this could make a huge mistake. Complaining does not make us feel better, as it can trigger negative impacts on the brain. While complaining ruins our mood and often the mood of others around us, it is not the only drawback. We need to understand the neurological process behind complaining to get a better picture of things.
Complaining and Our Brain
The human brain does not want to work harder than it has to and needs to branch out its neurons when we put stress on the brain through complaints. While the neurons branch into one another for efficient information transfer, they can increase the chances of negative thoughts later on.
Meaning, the more you complain, the more you are likely to have negative thoughts. Neuroscience explains this as synapses that fire together, wire together. This can also lead to several other mental and behavioral issues that we are going to discuss in this article.
Physical Damage to the Brain
Research by Stanford University assessed the impact of complaining on the physical health of a person. The results showed that complaining about as little as half-hour physically damages the brain. Complaining frequently shrinks the hippocampus region of the brain. It is the section of the brain that controls the problem-solving and critical functions of the brain. Your brain peels off neurons when you complain, which reduces your brain’s physical size.
The human brain can develop an addiction to complaining if you do it frequently enough. Mission.org explains this phenomenon best. Reports indicate that the more someone complains, the more neurons tend to stitch themselves together to facilitate the flow of this kind of information.
It becomes easier to complain once your brain does this enough times, and some people even become so addicted to it that they start doing it more often without even realizing it. While people think that complaining, swearing, and getting angry are just ways to vent your emotions, these things do not benefit your mental health.
The neurons rapidly reform when you frequently complain to process the information faster. This not only diverts your mental processes towards negative thoughts but also damages your memory. People who complain frequently tend to have trouble focusing and find it difficult to remember things. These people stay so focused on the bad things in life that they fail to concentrate on the good and more important things.
Even a few days of stressing out can damage certain regions of your brain and impact your memory directly. So, refraining from too much complaining is important for healthy brain function.
Cortisol is the stress hormone in the human body that serves an important purpose in the body but having an excess of this hormone can negatively impact the brain and the body. It can lead to several health issues and cause chronic problems. Digestive problems, weak immunity, higher depression rates, etc., are a few of the many problems associated with high cortisol levels.
Negative thoughts and complaints are contagious and can affect other people too. It not only presents you as a fussy/unhappy individual, but others around you can also develop these negative habits. Being around negativity can also make you negative. You are likely to release all your unhappy thoughts if you stay around people who complain a lot.
We understand that it feels good to share your feelings and get rid of your pain, but it is important to do it the right way.
According to the Archives of Clinical Psychology, optimists tend to live longer than people with negative thoughts. Happier people have a 55% lesser chance of dying from different causes and a 23% lower chance of dying because of heart attack or other stress-related diseases.
What can you do About It?
You probably understand how toxic and harmful constant complaining is for your health by now. It is okay if you have a habit of complaining as you can gradually control it. The fastest way to overcome this habit is to change your actions.
Statistics reveal that it takes around 18 to 256 days to give up a habit. We know that it is difficult to achieve this target in the first attempt. However, you can still break them down into shorter checkpoints. The best division would be a target of 28 days. You can adapt to the new habits after this period eventually.
Not Complaining In the Next 28 Days
Following are some of the things you should do to reduce complaining in the next 28 days:
Clarify Your Purpose
Try to look at the outcome you want to achieve by complaining; it is no use to complain if it does not achieve anything.
Initiate Something Positive
Try to think of positive things when you are about to complain, and you can control this negative habit slowly.
Do not think of past traumas or minor inconveniences from 20 years ago when you try to make your point. Always be specific and stay on track when you complain about something.
Complaining has physical and neurological damage to your brain and can affect you and the ones around you. You mustn’t overlook this problem and try to address it on priority. It will help you live a happier and healthier life while maintaining good relations with people. You can also reach out to professionals for help if you need behavioral management assistance.