Impact of Complaining
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Complaining impacts key aspects of life, including relationships, career, health and even your brain! Comparatively, feeling contentment has the ability to impact multiple areas of your life, supporting relaxation, happiness, connections, and empowerment. We’ll be covering a great deal of information to help you kick complaining to the curb in order to reveal your more content, happier self. Although this may seem like a tall order and even a bit overwhelming, I’ll be breaking the material down into manageable pieces, so don’t worry. It just takes a little practice and effort to break old habits.
Breaking Old Habits
Complaining can become just that – a habit. When you learn to curb your complaints, you’ll notice a shift in your life. Learning to lessen the frequency of your complaints doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel negative emotions again or that things won’t ever upset you. However, making a concerted effort to stop complaining is about your overall mindset and the frequency with which you complain. Think about yourself, or those you spend time with. Do you, or they, stand out as complainers who may benefit from an improved mindset?
Changing your ways and adopting a new mindset won’t happen overnight, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Constant complaining can become a cycle that’s hard to stop. People will begin to form an impression of you based on your moaning and groaning. Unfortunately, that impression is usually a negative one. I have personally found listening to self-improvement audio books over the past 20 years to be very helpful to me. While I have many favorites, the and late Dr. Wayne Dyer will remain my most influential.
We are all different in how we learn and process. Therefore, it makes sense that we will have unique preferences for our self-growth strategies. Counseling on a one to one basis is effective for many, and can be a short term or long term situation. For others, meditation increases mindfulness and self-awareness. My go-to is books! I have found a wealth of information in books of all types, by authors of varied backgrounds and experiences. I find them to be motivational, actionable and excellent references when needed for review and application. A few of my recent gems from (affiliate disclosure) Audible include:
- Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza and Adam Boyce (Hugely helpful!)
- High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard (My VERY favorite!)
- The Five Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins (My OTHER VERY favorite!)
- Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg | Steve Magness
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (Focuses on impact Grit has on life success based on research.)
Hands On Resources…
A multitude of free resources are available online, including YouTube videos and informative articles. A quick search on You Tube revealed a list of videos on How to Stop Complaining. I have a 20 page guide that covers 5 essential areas for self improvement. I offer it as a gift to my subscribers, who sign up for my routine newsletters. You may find that a helpful resource as you take empowered action.
The Benefits it Brings to You
There are tons of benefits to adopting a cheerier disposition. In addition to leaving a better impression on others and improving your reputation, you’ll simply feel better as you develop a more positive mindset. People who complain often feel that they have no choices or that life is something that just happens to them. They don’t feel in control of their circumstances. When you shift that mindset, you’ll start to feel empowered and in charge. Taking a proactive approach to your life puts you in the driver’s seat.
Ditching the complaining and trying to look on the bright side isn’t just fluff. It truly will bring good things to your world. You’ll start to notice less anger and hostility, along with the host of negative emotions that go along with them. Everything won’t seem so overwhelming and difficult. When you take on a more positive view by making real efforts to limit your bemoaning, optimism is a natural result.
You’ll simply feel more content in every aspect of your life. No, it won’t be easy. However, if you commit to change, I am confident you’ll see that change is possible. Let’s dive in and begin to explore the ways you truly can turn complaints into contentment.
The High Price You Pay For Complaining
As we begin our journey toward turning complaints into contentment, I want to talk about the ways in which spreading constant negativity is harming your life. From your personal relationships to your career, complaining can take a toll and cause damage to all of the things you hold dear. This also includes your physical and emotional health. It’s important to understand just what a high price you pay for complaining if you truly want to overcome this destructive habit. Let’s look at just some of the ways your life suffers at the hands of complaining.
People don’t like to be around complainers. Hearing nothing but negativity from a friend or loved one is a huge turnoff for most folks. Constant complaining can be contagious. Have you ever noticed that it tends to be easy to slip into a habit of moaning and groaning when you’re around a Negative Nan? Unfortunately, it’s possible that you’re the bad influence. If this is the case, it’s likely your circle has taken notice. Most of us make an effort to avoid spending time with toxic people because we know it’s bad for our own mental health to surround ourselves with their bad attitudes day in and day out.
Being a daily complainer will probably be a fast track ticket to losing some of the important people in your life. Have you ever noticed that often times complainers are also the individuals who seem “stuck” or stagnant in moving their lives forward? I can think of those in my own life who lean in to gossip and complain about others or about their own situation – and tend to have an excuse tagged to the compliant. Their life seems to perpetuate the same drama or circumstance – just with a different person on a different date for a different reason. It gets tiring, doesn’t it?
Your professional reputation is one of the most valuable things you have. Not only must you be topnotch at your job in order to move ahead in your career, but you also need to possess soft skills like good communication and strong listening ability. Your people skills are definitely noticed when it comes to your work life. How you conduct yourself, get along with and lead others all play into your success.
If you’re known as a constant complainer, you can pretty much guarantee yourself career stagnation.
Those who never seem happy and are always griping aren’t known to be good leaders. No matter how skilled you are at your position, you probably won’t excel if you gain a reputation as a complainer. Truly, positive and content professionals are what managers look for when it comes to hiring and promotions. Certainly, positive leaders and colleagues encourage healthy and positive association with others, which increases productivity and job satisfaction.
Positive attitudes leads to positivism whereas negative attitudes breed negativity.
Yet, your physical and emotional health may face the biggest impact when it comes to constant complaining. In fact, it’s been shown that your brain actually rewires itself for negativity when faced with regular bouts of griping. That’s because neural pathways form to accommodate activities such as complaining. Soon, these habits become ingrained into your neural functioning, making it easier to come back to these patterns again and again.
Interestingly, chronic complaints have also proven to shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for problem solving, and to increase the hormone cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Cortisol affects a wide range of bodily functions, including the regulation of blood pressure, memory formulation, metabolism, inflammation, blood sugar and immune system.
These are just some of the main ways complaining can impact your life. I hope you understand that constant negativity can have some pretty serious effects. Entrepreneur has a related article about 5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain to be Positive.
What Exactly Is Going On In Your Brain When You Complain?
We have touched a bit upon the relationship between complaining and your health. You learned that constant negativity and stress related to chronic complaints can lead to changes in the brain and body. Yet, now I’d like to follow up on the ways in which this process affects your brain. Fascinatingly, complaining has actually been shown to rewire the circuitry in your brain! Additionally, it also influences other changes within this organ that controls so much of how your body functions. Let’s take a deeper look.
Your brain thrives on efficiency. Yes, it works to make things run as expediently and effortless as possible. Therefore, the neurons in your brain respond to repeated events of any kind by closing in on each other so that the firing of synapses is easier, making communication more efficient. Complaining is one such activity to which such a response occurs. What you are essentially doing is creating a loop or repeated pathway in your brain that makes future complaints more likely to occur because the connection has been well established.
In fact, there’s a saying for this – “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Donald Hebb
The more that I research this topic, I am becoming fascinated by the research and information we have available to impact our life for the better! I had heard and believed growing up that once we were at maturity, our brains did not change. Research now refutes this and shows the opposite! I have linked an article below. This article discusses the neuroscience behind changing our behavior.
Cortisol is a hormone whose production is increased during times of stress, including the stressful response caused by chronic complaining. It is this hormone that triggers a “flight or fight” response within your body. It shuts down all systems that aren’t deemed absolutely necessary. Both blood pressure and blood sugar are elevated during this process. A frequent surge of cortisol also lowers your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high cholesterol, along with strokes.
If you enjoy further reading, the following link is to a brief article from a Penn State publication, and it also includes a list of Works Cited. Their paper also addresses the impact of Cortisol, as well as discusses the shrinking Hippocampus mentioned below. I should note that my research did come across another article that debunked the validity of the shrinking Hippocampus claims. Here are the links: and this is the one that debunks this. However, I came across numerous articles that seem to corroborate that the Hippocampus does shrink with stress and other factors also. See below for more.
The hippocampus is the part of your brain that’s responsible for cognitive functioning and problem solving. The activity in this region is important to long-term memory, spatial navigation and emotion regulation. Therefore, you can imagine damage to it would be quite detrimental to your well-being. Complaining on a regular basis has been proven to impair the production of new neurons within the hippocampus, eventually leading to its shrinking in size over time.
As you can see, complaining really does do a number on your brain. It goes as far as to actually change the structure and functioning within your mind. These patterns are then cemented into place, becoming entrenched and making it harder to move from a habit of negativity to a more realistic and hopeful path. The good news is that the pattern can also be reversed!
Changing your thoughts to more positive ones can help create new neural connections that make it easier to continue along that vein. Don’t despair. We’ll continue discovering ways to increase positivism, curb complaining and gain contentment. This article is one example of this.
Choose Contentment Over Complaints Any Day
Now you understand the ways in which the brain changes in response to regular complaining. Cetainly you’re also aware that these patterns can be changed, making positive thinking come more naturally with practice. Further, while it won’t be easy to break the complaining habit, it might help to understand the benefits of choosing contentment over complaints. Absolutely, when you make a proactive decision to kick complaints to the curb, you’ll start to see a number of good things happen.
One of the first things you may note is that you feel more relaxed. Letting go of gripes about things you probably can’t change anyway will lead you to feel less stressed. Complaining on a regular basis can cause you to feel frenzied and on edge. Deciding to try to change your perspective when things don’t go your way can increase your relaxation and lower your stress.
An additional strategy that we have found useful within my family is the use of essential oils for relaxation. Using single oils like lavender, Bergamot and Jasmine are examples. Alternatively, blends like Stress Away and Peace and Calming (from Young Living), and Serenity (from DoTerra) may support you feeling relaxed and calm. Both companies, and I am sure others as well, have roll on applications of some oils, so that you can immediately apply the oil from your purse or pocket.
Ending the complaint cycle is likely to lead to greater happiness. When you consciously decide to make a change, you usually engage in some self-assessment. You take a hard look at what’s bringing you down, what’s at the root of your dissatisfaction. Not to mention the ways in which your brain begins to restructure itself. Your neurons will begin to form efficient connections toward more positive thinking, and your levels of the stress hormone cortisol will begin to decrease. Happier feelings are just around the corner when you start to complain less.
This book, and a whole array of alternative choices, may support your efforts with rewiring your brain from complaining to happiness.
Speaking of connection, your relationships with other people will surely improve when you drop the Daniel Downer routine. Undoubtedly, people will be more enthusiastic about connecting with you. No one likes to be around people who are negative all the time. In addition, once you begin to make a conscious effort to lessen your moaning and groaning about others, you’ll naturally feel more empathy and compassion toward them. This type of understanding goes a long way toward strengthening bonds between people. The Secret of Happiness, discussed in Forbes, addresses our need for connections and relationships with others for happiness.
As you begin to achieve some success with re framing your complaints, you’ll start to feel more confident and secure in yourself. It’s empowering to know that you’re in charge of your feelings and actions. This boost in self-esteem is likely to build on itself, allowing you to feel stronger in other decisions across your life. It’s amazing how making one small change can be the catalyst for making even bigger alterations to your life.
These are merely a few of the ways your life will improve when you choose contentment over complaints. I’m excited for you to discover all the great things that are yet to come! Watch for the next post, as we continue our discussion of this topic, and how to create increased happiness in your life as you stop complaining and focus on contentment.
Additional Resources for Continued Learning and Practice
Self Development is an ongoing process of learning, practicing and refining. One resource that you may find useful is a 20 page e-book, Your Self Development Plan. This covers 5 essential aspects of your life and provides tips on how to incorporate action to make changes. The e-book is available as a gift to my subscribers, as a thank you for trusting me with their email address to receive notice of future blog posts and other educational and promotional content that I feel may be of value and interest. Now it is available to you also, as a gift for subscribing below.
Other recent blog posts may be of interest to you. I have linked them below for your convenience.
Great and helpful information.
Thank you so much, LoAnn, for your comment! I appreciate your feedback!