Stop Complaining

Stop Complaining…..for your own good and those around you.

We have all been around those people who love to complain… as a matter of fact you may even be someone who chooses to find the negative in any situation as oppose to the lighter side or many times even the truth.  People assume they know why they complain or perpetuate negativity, they will make a statement like, “I know I am a cynic” or “ Well, I’m just a realist”.  Whether or not this is just an opinion or a true and faithful statement is beside the point, continual negativity not only is habitual and counterproductive to any situation, it is in fact a detriment to one’s health.

Clinical research performed at Stanford University revealed complaining actually shrinks the area of the brain critical to problem solving and intelligent thought called the hippocampus.  Damage to the hippocampus is frightening, when one will consider it is one of the primary location of the brain destroyed by Alzheimer’s.

Complaining not only is damaging to our brain, but has further ramifications to our body as well.  As a person complains, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which is the hormone directly associated with the fight-or-flight response.  It is also responsible for directing oxygen, blood, and energy away from everything except the systems essential for immediate survival.  As cortisol releases the blood pressure and blood sugar are raised in preparation to either escape (flight) or defend (fight).  This may sound inconsequential, however the excessive cortisol release, due to habitual frequent complaining results in impairment of the immune system, which results in an increased susceptibility to heart disease such as myocardial infarction, hypertension, heart failure among others.  It has also been linked to diabetes, high cholesterol, and even obesity. Several studies revealed too much cortisol has been connected to raising venerability of cerebral vascular accidents (CVA aka “stroke”), which when described as its simplest level, is a brain attack.

You may be wondering why does this occur and why does complaining have such an effect on the body but especially the brain.  In all fairness, it is quite simple… neurologically speaking.  Neurological science has shown neurons are a close knit family.  The more they fire the closer they grow together allowing permanence to develop.  As this action is repeated, just like many negative behaviours, the brain literally is rewired to encourage such action to be easily repeated.  The brain is the greatest supercomputer ever created functioning with efficiency.  Thus, as a person complains, physiological and neurological responses occur in order to enable the crossing of information through the communicative network easier. 

Complaining is not an innate quality, but rather a learned action.  It happens to be the physical changes which makes complaining such an easy habit to develop.  But is it worth it?  There has been many articles and ‘studies’ claiming the benefits of complaining, in an article from 2 February 2018 in Forbes states, ““Constructive wallowing” is the term author Tina Gilbertson uses to describe the power of accepting and releasing negative feelings. It’s not that people aren’t capable of being positive, it’s that we are so backlogged with suppressed emotions, they are flaring up to get our attention. She argues that we need to clear our consciousness before we can allow new experiences in.”. Whereas, at face value, this may seem like a justification to complain, to “clear our consciousness” in a release of “backlogged” and “suppressed emotions”, the hard truth of the matter is greatly opposite.  Not only has neuroscience proven exorbitant complaining unhealthy for those committing the act, but it is always deteriorating to social communication.  On the sociological level, complaining is contagious and it presents an environment for others to absorb the negative without realising it, project the same in other circles (picture someone complaining about a complainer).  So not only is repeated complaining detrimental to your health, but it also has an debilitating effect on people’s ability to communicate with negative aspects.  Whereas, there are many types of ‘complaints’, the truth is, it is a conditioned response to areas of our life we are unhappy about and often the subject of the complaint is a separate subject altogether.  I can remember being around an individual who complained about everything.  This particular person constantly complained about everything, but when I asked for a solution, the answer was always “I don’t know.”  It became very evident the complaints were not only invalid, but actually were a reflection of their own unhappiness in life.  It was a sad situation, made even more so when there was nothing I could do to help.  In the end, the separation as acquaintances became the obvious, and might I say only option.  

By no means am I suggesting if and when a person is dealing with situations in their life causing them displeasure they should just suppress them into compartments within the mind.  If anyone is dealing with circumstances in their life, by all means speak to someone.  Let me reiterate, no one should suffer in silence, speak and speak loudly to those who can help and will listen.  Outside of personal struggles, we all know complaining is different and typically for reasons other than psychological help.  It is proven to be dangerous to one’s health and when we considering the ease of spreading at epidemic rates, it endangers those close by as well. 

What should be done?

It is easy to say, just stop, however by incorporating a little acronym into our cognitive response we may be assisted in deterring our addiction to complaining.  Before we speak, think…or in other words, before we speak T.H.I.N.K.  Ask yourself, is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Needed? Is it Kind?  Sure, this may sound simple and no this isn’t anything new.  Most of us, who are parents, have taught this to our children.  Yet, simplicity is often the best option and the most overlooked.  Consider the outcome of your outgo.  Try to find the positive in the surroundings in your life and if you cannot, change the environment in which you are complaining about.

So, before we decide to unload and let go, think… and stop complaining for your own good and for  those around you.

BJ Stagner


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