Chronic Complaints Instigate Emotions & Health
Written by: Seada
It’s tempting to complain. It’s instantly gratifying, but it has no long-term benefit. Repeated complaining rewires the brain to make future complaints easily accessible. It begins a cycle of trouble and begins to control your mind.
How complaining impacts our health:
During the process of a complaint, our body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol gears us into the fight-or-flight mode, which assures survival. With repeated bouts of complaining, the mind interprets things as more and more negative, despite what is happening around you. Yikes! Complaining also impacts our health, weakening our immune systems and making us more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
It’s all of us…
Since we are social beings, we tend to mimic the moods of those around us. You are those who you associate with. Complaining feels like we are connecting to someone, when in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Complaining does not mirror communication. Instead, it reflects a perpetual negative cycle. In the very moment that one of us is complaining, it can feel validating. But is it?
Some possible solutions to complaining:
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude: We hear this statement all the time. Expressing gratitude counteracts negativity and the need to complain. It is known to improve overall mood. It has an impact on mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Tip: for every 1 negative thought, 5 positive thoughts are needed to balance cortisol. This practice reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%!
Think of complaining as a means to a purpose: metacognition, the art of thinking about thinking. Here’s how:
Step 1: Actively think about the complaint. Try engaging with a conversation about something positive; i.e., offer a compliment; inquire about their well-being.
Step 2: Be as specific as possible when describing an issue. For example, if someone said something that sounded upsetting, specifically identify the trigger. Rather than saying, “I cannot believe that my friend spoke so rudely to me!” (this will drive up cortisol), say, “I feel upset because I was spoken to rudely. Can we talk about it?” Identify the trigger and communicate openly.
Step 3: Show appreciation to the person who listened. Perhaps, it was yourself who came to a rational conclusion. Share self-compassion.
It takes a conscious effort to become aware of our thoughts and behaviors. As you gain insight into negative thoughts shift gears to think about something positive, or grounding. I like to use the analogy of an anchor. It’s heavy. It keeps me in check. It allows me to feel my emotions as opposed to acting upon my feelings. I invite you to consider what may be an anchor for you.
How complaining rewires your brain for negativity. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/the-mission/how-complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity-96c67406a2a