When the stress from a bad situation starts to build up inside, it is only natural to want to vent, so all of the uncomfortable feelings are released. However, if someone never sees the good in anything in their life, they tend to vent all the time to anyone who is willing to listen.
All of the complaining is counterproductive though. It makes the person who has to listen to it shrink away in dread whenever the complainer approaches, and it also makes the complainer have a higher risk for anxiety and depression. Because of this, it is important to understand why people complain, the physical and mental effects of complaining, and how the negative thinking behind complaining can be reversed.
3 Types of Complainers…
The following are the three basic types of complainers:
- People who complain to get sympathy
- People who ruminate over all of their problems
- People who vent but don’t want any real solutions to their problems
Why People Become Debbie Downers
Unfortunately, chronic complaining is often something that is taught to a person from the time that they are a small child. They usually have a parent or close relative that they spend a significant amount of time with that is very insulting and critical of everyone around them. Perhaps, they always send food back when they go to a diner, since it is never cooked to their standards. Or they lay the blame of all their financial troubles on a spouse who never seems to make enough money to pay the bills.
These messages play over and over in a child’s mind so much that they will think that this is how an adult is supposed to act. However, there are adults who grow up with parents with positive energy, but they change because of a desire to fit in with others in their environment who complain a lot.
What Complaining Does to Your Brain
According to neuropsychologist Donald Hebb, neurons are special cells that send information to other cells in the brain and to other parts of the body. They remember thought patterns and respond in kind to them. So if a person always has negative thoughts, they will send the appropriate response to the central nervous system. Each time that someone complains, the neurons repeat the response, so it becomes memorized.
This triggers anxiety and depression, even when things aren’t really that bad.
And if the person tries to quickly change their thoughts to more positive ones, it will be hard for them, since the neurons prefer to act in ways that they are more familiar with. Over time, the anxiety and depression will get worse if nothing is done to change the thought patterns.
The Effects of Anxiety & Depression on the Body
If complaining still seems like no big deal, you should think again. The long-term side effects of the depression and anxiety that it causes are damaging to the body. They increase the risk for stress related diseases, such as high blood pressure and strokes. And they lead to high levels of inflammation in the body because stress increases a person’s cortisol levels. So a person will also become more prone to inflammation related diseases. Those who are around someone who constantly complains will have their health affected by it too.
Help for Negative Thinkers
Luckily, the brain can be retrained to start reacting to situations in a more positive way. All it takes is changing the constant barrage of negative, critical thoughts that lead to complaining to more positive ones through mindfulness. For example, if someone is always finding fault with those who are around them, they might begin to start pointing out the things that they like about them instead.
It will take a considerable amount of effort at first, but it will get easier with practice. Then, the neurons will adapt to the new thought patterns, so they begin to respond more easily to the changes. However, if someone can’t seem to stop complaining on their own, it might be time to get some help through counseling or even reading your Bible. There are many kinds of therapies available that can help find the source of the negative thinking and complaining. However, I would try developing a closer relationship with Christ by praying or simply talking to Him, reading His word every morning, and surrendering completely to Him through faith.
You can start off by focusing on these 5 tips:
- Be Aware of Your Attitude – Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
- Let Go of All the Bad Stuff – Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
- Focus on the Positive – Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
- Show Gratitude – Psalm 107:8 “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
- Be Humble – Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
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