How many times a day do you complain? Weather, traffic, work, kids, spouse? Do you find yourself complaining more and more? It’s not unusual, especially with everything that has been going on in our world. It’s so easy to find something to dish about. People who are self-aware know the dangers that complaining can cause.
Research shows that most people complain once a minute during a typical conversation! Interestingly, we complain because it makes us feel better. The more we complain, the more likely we are to complain.
Frequent complaining or dwelling on the negative aspects of life can actually rewire your brain in a way that makes it easier and more natural to complain. When you repeat a behavior, like complaining, your neurons branch out to ease the flow of information. This makes it much easier to repeat the behavior in the future. As your neurons grow closer together, the connections become more permanent making it more natural to complain.
A study by Stanford University shows that complaining, or even being complained to, for 30 minutes or more can also physically damage the brain.
Researchers used high-resolution MRI scans and found that stress caused by complaining can result in the shrinking of the hippocampus. This is an area of the brain critical to problem-solving, memory, and intelligent thought, and has been recently linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
And it doesn’t just have to be you doing the complaining to cause brain damage. Much like secondhand smoke affects your lungs, listening to others complain can negatively impact the brain. So, be cautious about spending time with people who complain a lot! Be self-aware! Pay attention. Not only to what you are saying, be be aware of the people you are spending a lot of time with.