When we complain, we hope it will lighten our burdens, but it usually makes them feel heavier. We start exaggerating our troubles, and this whining is noticeable to those around us. Pretty soon, the smallest irritations loom larger, and we feel this sensation throughout our bodies.
In fact, a famous study by Stanford University found that complaining may be more dangerous than you think. Their research showed that complaining shrinks your hippocampus, thereby reducing your memory and problem-solving abilities.
It also increases stress hormones that can cause you to gain weight and raise your risk for serious conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
While it would be difficult to stop complaining completely, you can train yourself to complain less and do it more constructively. Use these tips to help you deal with dissatisfaction.
Tips for Complaining Less:
1. Check yourself. Studies show that chronic complaining rewires your brain so being irritable may become automatic. Count how many times a day you vent. Keeping a written journal may help. Note your personal triggers and how you feel after you vent.
2. Be thankful for what you have. You could also use your journal to increase your sense of appreciation, a powerful antidote to complaining. Remember the things you have to be grateful for and seize opportunities to thank others.
3. Reduce stress. Taking care of yourself makes you less vulnerable to complaining. Meditate daily or find other ways to relax. Lastly, learning to laugh at yourself allows you to be less tense.
4. Surround yourself with positive people. Griping is contagious. You may need to limit your time around those who complain about a lot. Surround yourself with positive influences and strong role models.
Tips for Expressing Dissatisfaction More Constructively:
1. Focus on solutions. Before you start venting, think through what you’re trying to achieve. Work on accomplishing your future goals and stop living in the past.
2. Don’t press send. If you find yourself complaining, think about your timing and understand that the internet might not be the proper outlet. For example, your boss will be more likely to address your concern with empathy if you approach them first and privately instead of airing them on Facebook.
3. Manage your emotions. Stick to the facts even when you’re upset or angry. Hostility and exaggerations could put others on the defensive and cost you credibility.
4. Assume responsibility. Hold yourself accountable for your role in any situation. You’ll make it easier for others to cooperate with you, and you’ll be able to see where you can make changes.
5. Be specific. Resist the urge to air your grievances in large batches. Address one point at a time so others can understand your position and you can see if you’re able to make progress.
6. Open up. Chronic complaining destroys hope. Listen to others’ perspectives instead of clinging to your own point of view and be open to the possibility for change.
7. Take action. Steer your discussions towards coming up with a concrete plan of action that you can implement and evaluate. Be prepared to do something about what’s bothering you even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
8. Consider counseling. Changing any pervasive habit can be challenging. If you’re having trouble breaking the cycle of chronic complaining, try talking with a therapist. They can help you form new and more rewarding habits.
Complaining reinforces negative thinking and compromises your well being. Train your brain to complain less and focus on solutions. Your mental health will thank you for it.