When we complain, we often mean no harm to other people, it’s really a simple matter of spilling forth a lot pent up negative energy that is most often a direct result of external negative factors. The chief aim of the complaining exercise is therefore to make us feel better, science has however suggested a flaw in this particular reasoning. According to this particular findings, not only does it not end up making us feel better, but it likewise makes our listeners feel worse.
Psychologist Jeffrey Lohr who has studied venting actually compares the phenomenon to farting in an enclosed area; “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is…similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong”. The major point here however does not focus solely on your mood or the mood of your listeners but actually purports that negativity is bad for our brain and health.
Steven Parton who is an author and student of human nature, wrote an article on PsychPedia which explains how complaining not only alters our brain for the worse but also has negative effects for mental health. The title of the article; The Science of Happiness: Why complaining is literally killing you; spells out how seriously the author views the subject. Below we’ll look at the three claims he makes to the regard;
Synapses That Fire Together Wire Together – According to Parton, “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,”.
He continues, explaining why this basic neuroscience lesson is necessary; “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 in essence, allowing a thought makes it easier for that thought to come around again, which means it becomes easier for you to think negative thoughts or for them to just randomly crop up; being constantly negative will push your personality towards the negative.
You Are Whom You Hang Out With – On this Parton writes, “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,”.
As your brain tries on their emotions for size, the capacity for that emotion also strengthens and you have almost the same results as when you hang out with your own negative thoughts.
Stress Is Terrible For Your Body Too – After priorly making two cases for the way negativity alters ones mental health, Parton writes on the effect on one’s physical health, “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…The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.”
So there you have it, your complaining is neither helping you nor anyone connected to you! A better approach would be to accept anything that comes to you, take the lessons from it and move on positively with your life.
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