Braining, Paining, and Complaining
Like to complain a lot?
You probably don’t even realize it’s become a habit!
Research shows that most people complain about something once a minute during a typical conversation. It may feel good, but it’s not healthy.
And why is that?
When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol shifts you into a flight-or-fight mode, directing oxygen, blood and energy away from everything but the systems that are essential to immediate survival.
Cortisol raises your blood pressure and blood sugar so that you’ll be more prepared to either escape, defend yourself, or freeze.
All the extra cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Ultimately, a prolonged or exaggerated stress response may perpetuate cortisol dysfunction, widespread inflammation, and pain.
It even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.
Speaking of the brain; did you know that complaining can actually change the brain?
How is that, you ask?
According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founder of TalentSmart, your brain loves efficiency and doesn’t like to work any harder than it has to. When you are “constant complainer” your neurons branch out to each other to ease the flow of information. Complaining then becomes so much easier—so easy, in fact, you might not even realize you’re doing it.
So, your neurons grow closer together, and the connections between them become more permanent. Scientists like to describe this process as, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find it’s easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Complaining becomes your default behavior, which changes how people perceive you.
And here’s another thing to wrap your brain around; complaining damages other areas of your brain as well. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus — an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. Damage to the hippocampus is scary, especially when you consider that it’s one of the primary brain areas destroyed by Alzheimer’s.
You’ve probably heard that you’re a product of the people that you hang around with—well, guess what?
Our brains naturally and unconsciously mimic the moods of those around us, particularly people we spend a great deal of time with. This process is called neuronal mirroring, and it’s the basis as to why we feel empathy. However, it also makes complaining a lot like smoking—you don’t have to do it yourself to suffer the ill effects.
You might want to think about spending time with people who complain about everything. And if you suddenly see some of your friends staying clear of you, they just might have read this article!
Complainers want people to join their pity party so they can feel better about themselves. Look at it this way: If you were sitting next to a person smoking, would you sit there all evening inhaling the second-hand smoke?
Nope—you would distance yourself and you should do the same thing with complainers.
Unless, you’re a smoker…or a complainer…or both.
What is the solution to complaining?