I read this article recently and thought it was SO INTERESTING!
Here’s the gist behind how excessive complaining rewires your brain:
“There’s something called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” which is the continuing creation and grouping of neuron connections in our brains that take place as a result of our life experiences.
Neuroscience teaches us that neurons that fire together, wire together. Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist, coined that phrase back in 1949. What this means is that whenever we think a thought or have a feeling or physical sensation, thousands of neurons are triggered and they all get together to form a neural network.
With repetitive thinking, the brain learns to trigger the same neurons each time.
So, if you keep your mind looping on self-criticism, worries, and how nothing is working out for you, your mind will more easily find that part of your brain and will quickly assist you in thinking those same thoughts again.”
Crazy, right? So if we’ve gotten into the habit of dwelling on negative experiences/feelings then the next time something doesn’t go our way (like someone cuts you off in traffic, let’s say) our brain’s kneejerk reaction is not to let the incident slide, but for us to be negative and complain about it.
So what can we do to stop this negative cycle?
- Catch Yourself: When you notice yourself complaining, STOP IT and change the subject.
- Be Grateful: How can you complain and be grateful at the same time? You can’t! No matter the situation, find something to be grateful for. Someone cuts you off in traffic, be grateful you were alert while driving. Be grateful your favorite song just came on the radio.
- Put your energy elsewhere: Complaining is emotionally draining (it is to the people who have to hear it too), change that negative energy into something positive! Give compliments, say thank you, serve others, and laugh more!
- Breathe and meditate: There’s no doubt things will happen that annoy us, but take deep breaths while you’re in the situation and practice tips #2 and 3.
Once my friend was in a long line at the store. She was getting impatient and her initial reaction was to be grouchy with the clerk when it was her turn. Instead, she took a deep breath and noticed that the clerk was all alone in the store trying to assist many customers. She smiled and told the clerk she was doing a great job instead. The clerk perked right up and my friend felt better too!
At home, meditate or do yoga to relieve stress. Writing in a gratitude journal is also helpful.
Just like your brain can get wired for negativity, we can rewire it to be more positive! I feel like in this world we live in, we definitely need more of that! I also want to be an example to my kids on being positive. Society tell us that it’s all about “ME” and if something doesn’t go my way, I have the right to complain and shout my frustrations. I want to make a different choice. I CHOOSE HAPPINESS and FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY EACH AND EVERY DAY!!