Science Shows What Happens To Your Brain When You Complain Too Much
The more we complain, the more we wire our brain to focus on the negative aspects of our lives.
The first step is becoming aware of the issue. What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning? Are you already dreading the day ahead? Is it cloudy, and thus right out of bed, you find yourself in a grumpy mood? Well, if this is you, know that it is not too late to make a change. Complaining can become a habit, and the more we do it, the more we continue to do it. With some effort, we can break this habit and start to see the world in a more positive light, if we choose to take action. Within the past couple of decades, thanks to the development of brain imaging and neuroscience, we can now clearly see that the brain is indeed capable of rewiring itself. It is up to us, however, to make these necessary adjustments in order to allow for this to happen. Neuroplasticity means the brains ability to change and form new neural pathways and synapses, this is what allows us to break old habits, form new ones, learn new skills, grow, change and essentially, evolve. Because of neuroplasticity, we have the capability to: ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together.” It is important to know, that there are two sides of the coin and we can indeed rewire our brains for the worse, if we pick up habits and behaviors that are detrimental to our well being, such as complaining. According to Alex Korb, Ph.D., and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change At A Time, “In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision-making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.” When we get caught up in the habit of continually complaining, in the form of thoughts in our heads or out loud to anyone and everyone we come into contact with, it will directly alter our thought processes. Altered thoughts lead to altered beliefs, which will inevitably lead to a change in behavior. In fact, our brain possesses something that is called the negativity bias, meaning that the brain has a tendency to focus more on what’s wrong, not what’s going right or the positive events in our life.
These negative thoughts can actually drown out the positive experiences over time so that you aren’t able to even see the positive events that are taking place in your life. Neuroscientist, Dr. Rick Hanson sums up the negativity bias quite nicely, “Negative Stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones.
They are also perceived more easily and quickly.” So, by continually allowing ourselves to complain we are strengthening this behavior, as mentioned above, the first step towards changing this is to become aware of the problem. That alone, will make see the issue and likely ponder on your negative thoughts. This isn’t to say that we always need to “think positive” a common new-age misconception, but we should take the necessary action steps to counteract the effects of thinking negatively all the time. A simple and effective technique is to wear a complaining bracelet, this is a tactic that I learned from watching an episode of Oprah years ago. You simply wear a bracelet, any kind that can easily come off, and every time you catch yourself complaining about something, in your head or out loud to someone else, you switch wrists. To hold yourself accountable, let your family, friends, and co-workers know of your challenge so in case you don’t realize that you’re complaining, they can call you out too.
The goal is to see how long you can go without having to switch the bracelet, but this technique is also powerful for showing you how much you are actually complaining in the first place. Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher and her colleagues from the University of North Carolina showed how people who meditate daily have more positive emotions that those who don’t. After a three-month experiment, Fredrickson’s team found that “people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support and decreased illness symptoms.” If you are new to meditation, there are a ton of resources available to help get you started. Just 15 to 20 minutes a day could be enough to change your brain and your entire life, for the better! Scientists have discovered that feelings of gratitude can actually change your brain. Feeling gratitude can also be a great tool for overcoming depression and anxiety. Furthermore, scientists have discovered that the heart sends signals to the brain. You can read more about that, in detail, here. 5 Meditation Apps That Are Available Right Now For Download An Introduction To Mindfulness Meditation Meditation For Beginners: 20 Tips To Help Quiet The Mind Meditation For People Who Don’t Meditate: A Simple Guide Discover how Conscious Breathing can improve your life in just 10 days through our upcoming guided challenge starting January 13th, 2020! Get access to daily videos, guided meditations, and community support to master conscious breathing basics. Release stress, activate heart coherence, improve digestion, sleep better and more! Sign Up For The Chall.
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