Everyone has that one friend or family member who is always complaining about something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. To the point that being around them is almost unbearable. Next time you hang out with this person, cite this article and say that there is solid evidence that they are killing themselves by complaining so much.
Steven Parton, author and student of human nature, tells us that complaining alters our brains and has a negative effect on our mental health.
Here are the three ways that he claims complaining is actually hurting you:
“Synapses that fire together wire together”
Parton explains how synapses that fire together often eventually grow closer together:
“Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about.”
“Here’s the kicker,” he continues. “Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross…. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.”
So, we can piece this together to basically mean that the more we think or act a certain way, the easier it becomes to act and think in those certain ways. Which is obviously not the best news for negative people. And it only gets worse. Repeated negative thoughts pave the way for you to have more random negative thoughts:
“Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.”
You become who you hang out with
Hanging out with people who are negative has a very similar effect on our brains. As Parton explains:
“When we see someone experiencing an emotion (be it anger, sadness, happiness, etc), our brain ‘tries out’ that same emotion to imagine what the other person is going through. And it does this by attempting to fire the same synapses in your own brain so that you can attempt to relate to the emotion you’re observing. This is basically empathy. It is how we get the mob mentality…. It is our shared bliss at music festivals,” Parton writes.
“But it is also your night at the bar with your friends who love love love to constantly bitch.”
So, if you’re hanging around people are always negative, you yourself will start to become negative. Avoiding these types of people and surrounding yourself with people who are loving and positive is a great way to avoid succumbing to gloom and doom.
Stress is terrible for the body
Not only does negativity and stress affect our mental mental and emotional health, it brings us down physically.
“When your brain is firing off these synapses of anger, you’re weakening your immune system; you’re raising your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and a plethora of other negative ailments.”
When your stress levels increase, the hormone cortisol increase as well, which “interferes with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increased weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, [and] heart disease,” says Parton.