Research Shows That Complaining Rewires Your Brain To Be Depressed And Anxious

We all have that one person in our lives. The one that is spews negativity, regardless of circumstance. The one that everyone tiptoes around in social settings so as to not be the cause of their momentary disdain. They’re the eternal pessimist. They’re impossible to please.

They’re the perpetual complainer.

For the sake of this article, we’ll call our friend negative Nunny. (*feels androgynous enough, right?).

Most of us are able to adjust to Nunny. We’ve become accustomed to our role as the sounding board, and often overextend ourselves to work with their schedule so as to not be the cause of new negativity / stress. After all, we love and understand Nunny.

Unfortunately, this relationship begins to wear on you over time, sucking your energy and leaving you feeling empty. There are a couple different types of draining energies but all of them stream from one core value: Negativity.

Drain Types

  • The Venter: This person is always displeased, but doesn’t welcome solutions to remedy the issue at hand.
  • The Chronic Complainer: These folks “ruminate Instead of feeling a release after complaining, this sort of complaining can actually make things worse. It can cause even more worry and anxiety.
  • The Sympathy Seeker: The “woe is me” drain type may be the worst of all. No one has it as bad as they do.

According to Clemson University Professor of Psychology, Dr. Robin Kowalski, everyone complains from time to time, but should try to minimize it as much as possible. Bouts of negativity are normal and encouraged to reset our systems. But what you want to be mindful of, is if you are being excessively negative. Remember this: negativity breeds negativity.

Most of us unintentionally reinforce the nasty habit of complaining, by virtue of… complaining.

Negativity Rewires Your Brain

Donald Hebb, a Neuropsychologist, hypothesized that neurons which fire together, wire together. Meaning groups of neurons connect in our brain as a result of particular life experiences.

Whenever we think a thought or have a feeling or physical sensation, thousands of neurons are triggered and form an internal neural network. The brain learns to trigger the same neurons with repetitive thinking.

That said, we become what we think and say. If you focus on feelings / thoughts of criticism, worry, and victimization, it is much easier for your brain to call those things to the surface. This can lead to serious depression and anxiety.

Four tricks to avoid negativity:

  1. Show thanks: Even for the little things.
  2. Be aware of yourself: Stop yourself in a middle of a complaint. Quit complaining. Awareness is something to be proud of!
  3. Start a new pattern: We can train ourselves to work towards positivity. The more often we consciously remember the good stuff, the easier positivity becomes.
  4. Practice effort: Remind yourself to let go of that which is not helpful and nurture skill and productivity.

Our thought patterns wire our brains to react positively or negatively to the situations we are presented. So, why not reclaim control of your thoughts by making a concerted effort to focus on being positive? Try it. Beginning today, pay attention to the words you speak. The thoughts that run through your head. You’ll be amazed at just how many of them are negative. It IS possible to rewire your brain – practice, practice, practice!

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