How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity & How to Stop

How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity & How to Stop

Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.
— Voltaire

It is good and even healthy to not bury your feelings deep inside and rather talk about your problems with someone you trust. However, being a perpetual cry baby will also get you nowhere.  Constant complaining rewires your brain to be negative which has some adverse effects on your health and overall personality. You might feel that complaining is helping you; it surely does but when done in the right amount. But spending all your energies in just complaining instead of trying to look for solutions is not right.

How repeated complaining damages you

In response to repeated stimuli and experiences, the brain undergoes a change. This is called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity“. Your neurons are always working to ease the flow of information in your brain. It basically means that your brain, seeking the easiest way to function, makes your repeated behaviour your default one. Neurons get wired in a fashion that repetition of that ‘default’ behaviour seems effortless and more comfortable to you than acting otherwise. Without even realizing, you start finding it easier to be negative than to be optimistic irrespective of what circumstances you are in — whether sunny or dark. Thus travelling a well-trodden path, such as complaining, seems much easier to your brain.

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But that is not all. Regular complaining tends to damage other areas of your brain too. According to a Stanford University research, complaining shrinks the brain’s hippocampus — a critically important area that helps in problem-solving. It is important to note that it is the damaged hippocampus that is one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s.

Know your type

Now that you know what the adverse effects of repeated complaining are, it is time to identify yourself. What kind of complainer are you?


A venter is a “dissatisfied person who does not want to hear solutions, however brilliant. Venting as said above can be good sometimes; but only sometimes.

Sympathy Seekers:

These are the kind of people who will find their own problems in whatever the other person says or does. Even at times when the other person is facing some problem, they will find their own much worse. They at times go on social media in order to seek sympathy instead of doing something about it in real life.

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Chronic Complainers:

These are the people who live “in a state of complaint”, and engage in what researchers call “ruminating. Rumination is “the focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions.” Instead of making you feel better this type of complaining can increase stress and can also lead to depression.

How to tackle this problem

Be positive:

Yes. It might seem difficult at first but it is not impossible. Try to see good things around you and be grateful for them. If you think you have got the worst of the lot then it is also true that you have certain things in your life which are way better than others’.

Let go:

Instead of dwelling on a certain issue, try resolving it. Talk to people, listen to them and look for viable solutions and then work upon those. That will give you less time to over think and will make you feel empowered if you end up resolving the problem. If that does not work, then you should always be prepared to let go.

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Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook towards life. Pessimistic people impart nothing but negatively to others. On the other hand, an optimist will be able to see clearly through your problem and might help you in finding solutions rather than letting you end up feeling more anxious. Complaining is like smoking. Whether you smoke or not, you may still contract cancer as a result of being in a company of smokers. Also, if you are such a smoker, be considerate to others.

Be aware:

Before jumping on to any remedies, you first need to be aware of your situation. Many people do not realize that they have a complaining attitude towards everything. Knowing is half the battle. So the next time when you complain about something, stop and ask yourself whether the issue is worth complaining or you are doing it just out of habit.

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