Complaining is a natural tendency of human nature. Sometimes it feels good to just vent, process thoughts from your head and spit them out of your mouth. Life will never be perfect, so there will always be plenty to complain about. But what are the effects of complaining on our brains? Why is it so easy to complain? Is it really worth it?
Effects of Complaining on the Brain
Dr. Rick Hanson, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and New York Times best-selling author, found that negativity, which includes complaining, produces more neural activity than do equally intense positive ones. Basically, the brain finds it easier to process negative thoughts or words. For example, in studies, people can identify angry faces faster than happy ones because the fight-or-flight part of the brain gets activated quickly by the angry faces. 😡 Ooh, now you’re ready to complain!
Therefore, we have to work harder to not fall back on our natural human tendency to complain when we are under stress.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Know that it is the natural tendency for humans to complain. Find your triggers. When you know a trigger is coming (e.g., a stressful situation, a person, a place, etc. that makes you want to complain), prepare yourself. Get your mind ready to deal with the positive aspects of a situation rather than the negative ones. You can also avoid a situation that may trigger negativity/complaining.
- Gratitude. Have you ever been told in school that when all else fails in a multiple choice test, pick answer C? It wasn’t the best advice, but I’ve heard it many times as the “go to” answer. I feel like gratitude is the “go to” answer for so many problems. When you feel like complaining, think about all of the good in your life. The other day I was complaining 😡 about something stupid, and I saw a mother helping her bald, pale-skinned daughter carry a few things. Her daughter was fighting cancer. I’ll tell you how quickly I was grateful for my health and my children’s health! (Like in 5 seconds!) Think about what you are grateful for at least once you wake up and before bed.
- Don’t take on more than you can handle. Don’t say yes to this or that if you are going to just complain about it. If you are going to agree to take something on, just do it. Remember why you said yes. How is the project benefiting you or others? Is it worth your time?
The next time you have to wait in heavy traffic or you feel stressed out, try and stop yourself from complaining. Remember, that you are feeding your brain negative thoughts, which attracts more negative thoughts. Work hard to rewire your brain with positive neural pathways. It takes effort, but it will get easier the more you work at it. I’m working on it with you! ☀️ The sun rises every day.
What has your experience been like with complaining? Do you have any “go to” tips that have helped you to stay positive?
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