C is for How Complaining Can Harm Our Well-Being

C is for How Complaining Can Harm Our Well-Being

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” ― Maya Angelou

You’ve done it, I’ve done it. We have all complained at one time or another when things don’t go our way at work or in life. We may find ourselves venting to release stress. Or so we tell ourselves. Complaining may help our frustration at the moment, but it never solves the problem at hand.

When we complain, we are expressing displeasure. We vent our frustrations to simply get it off our chest, and rarely do we consider the effect on the person listening to our complaints.  Nor do we consider how constant complaining can affect our overall well being. Just think about this for a moment. Each time we vent we send negative thoughts to our brain which sends signals to our body to flood the bloodstream with cortisol, the stress hormone. And each time we try to get something off our chest, so to speak, we get upset all over again.

Why is it so easy to complain?

Studies show that when we repeat a behavior, such as constant complaining, the neurons in our brain will branch out to each other and strengthen their signals. This helps to ease the flow of information, efficiency is its goal. So the next time you find yourself annoyed at something or someone, your efficient brain will take you directly to your default reaction of venting and complaining.

If you find yourself surrounded by complainers, there is a good chance you’ve become affected by this harmful energy too. Even if you’re not the one doing the complaining, engaging with this type of negativity can have the same impact on your mental health as if you were the one complaining.

Now, no one gets through life without a complaint or two, and there are times when we need to stand up for ourselves. However, complaining unproductively and continually can negatively impact our happiness and our brain.

How do we stop?

So how do we stop a repeated harmful behavior?  First, we must realize we are engaged in this negative action. After all, if we don’t acknowledge our problem, we can’t fix it. Then we must choose to address life’s aggravating moments with problem solving skills and find productive solutions that will help avoid negative thoughts and consequences.

It is important to become mindful of a solution rather than a whining complaint. Doing so will help strengthen our problem-solving skills and train our brains to seek positive options and productive solutions vs. complaining. This will begin to boost our overall well being and increase our self-esteem.

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