Everyone does it at one point or another, but how healthy is complaining? We call it venting sometimes and justify it as necessary means to keep sane.
The average person complains at least once a minute during a conversation. As we all experience negativity or unwanted elements in our life it is a safe common ground for us to relate to one another.
In the end, nothing's really changed through our complaints and any negative feelings or thoughts haven't dissipated or become weaker. Originally we focused on the negative as a means of survival, we would tune in to what we didn't want or appreciate to change it. The more we look at something that can hurt us, the more we are programmed to be on guard.
Complaining is a way to acknowledge a problem without attempting to fix it. This feeds the problem with more energy and creates more stress. Complaints are on par with smoking when it comes to our health. The stress caused by constantly complaining leads to damaging the neurons in the hippocampus and impairs its ability to create new neurons or neural paths. The hippocampus is the part of the brain used for problem solving and cognitive functioning.
Listening to someone else complain affects us in the same way as if we are complaining. Below are some ways to limit complaining effects.
Define Complaining and Track How Often And What You Complain About
A Complaint and an observation are different in that one is a statement and the other is a feeling or opinion attached to the statement. 'It's really hot outside' is an observation. It becomes a complaint when we add 'It's really hot outside, and I'm sick of it'.
Track what you complain about and how much. You can do this by drawing a notch on your arm or notebook. Understanding how bad the problem is, is the first step.
Stay Away From Chronic Whiners
We talked about how someone else's complaining can affect us the same as if we were doing it. If you can't seem to get away try to be proactive and productive about the problems, offering solutions.
Turn Complaints Into Something Else
End complaints with positive statements, 'I don't like driving to work, but I'm grateful I have a job.' Don't let what you say end on a negative note.
Another great way to do this is change 'I have to' statements with 'I get to'. 'I get to go to work today', instead of I have to go to work today'.
My personal favorite way to negate focused negativity in my life is remove statements that have 'I' or 'Me' in them. Do what you can to not call attention to yourself if you can't be positive.