Complaining is literally contagious —and really bad for your health
It turns out that while venting may feel so right, it’s so wrong for our health.
According to human nature researcher Steven Parton on Psych Pedia, complaining can not only annoy those around you, it can also harm your mental health. Firstly, he explains that negative thoughts actually change how our brains work.
Since our craniums contain synapses that help to transmit electrical charges, information is able to make its way around our minds. However, Parton explains, “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.”
In other words, if you keep thinking negative thoughts, your brain will actually make it easier for you to have those thoughts in the future. (Thanks, brain.) Plus, this makes negative thoughts win out over positive ones in your mind.
“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,” states Parton.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, complaining can also affect your physical health. (Should we cry now or later?) When our brains produce negativity, this can consequently raise our blood pressure, cause weight gain, interfere with our memory, weaken our immune system, and increase our chances of procuring heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other ailments. (Yeah… we’re gonna cry now.)
Oh gosh, it somehow continues to go downhill from here because complaining can hurt those we love most.
Parton reveals, “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.” To put it simply: when we complain, we’re spreading negativity and, thus, making those around us more negative.
With all of this new information floating around our synapses, we can’t help but want to be better. Yes, venting sessions are wonderful and relieving, but so is a dose of positivity, right? After all, no one wants a brain that’s literally wired to be pessimistic.