We all know at least one person who often complains, even when they have no apparent reason to do so. Some like to focus on their body pain, others don’t like the direction their lives are going in, and some just have to complain, because otherwise, they feel that something is off about their day if they don't.
If you know such people or are one of them, the following article sheds light from a scientific perspective on how complaints affect our mental state or, more precisely, our brains.
"Thought changed reality, I saw how people rewired their minds with their thoughts, which permanently cured states of fixation and trauma," said Norman Doidge, a Canadian psychiatrist and author of “The Brain That Changes Itself”. In this short sentence, Doidge wonderfully sums up how thought creates reality with the organ that controls our being, namely the mind.
This unique organ, previously perceived as inflexible and unchangeable, has been thoroughly researched in recent decades, prompting researchers and neurologists to understand that former theories were completely wrong. The human brain is an incredibly flexible organ that can be rewired by various actions, and even chronic complainers can’t resist its positive change once they alter their worldview.
The flexibility of the human brain allows it to be shaped by good habits and implement positive changes on a regular basis. Unfortunately, every coin has two sides, and people who think negatively and behave accordingly change their minds negatively and create a cycle of evil thoughts that surrounds them.
These people don't tend to hide their feelings. They're actually more prone to vocalizing them quite prominently, leading them to be labeled as complainers and being avoided. Constant complainers fall into three categories, at least one of which you're bound to identify with in some way:
1. Attention seekers: These people seek positive attention through negative complaints and tend to complain that their lives are very poor when compared to others. Unfortunately, those that complain for attention often create the opposite effect to the one they desire, because people around them don’t have the energy for them and their thoughts. In many cases, people prefer to distance themselves from attention-seeking complainers.
2. Chronic complainers: People of this kind live in a constant cycle of complaints, feeling a lot of self-pity and seeking the pity of others. Psychologists argue that this behavior is compulsive, and chronic complainers reach a point in which it is difficult for them to resist the desire to complain and be perceived as victims who need help.
3. Complainers with low emotional intelligence: Unlike the other two types of complainers, people that fall into this group have no desire for the opinions or feelings of the people around them. If you come across people of this kind, the thing they are most interested in is simply complaining to someone who will listen to them, and their reaction is less important.
Although it may not seem so, people who complain frequently don’t actually want to feel the way that they feel. The cycle of negative thoughts leads them to make their complaints, which in turn end up taking over their thoughts completely. According to Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist and author of "Buddha’s Brain," negative thoughts lead to greater brain stimulation than a number of identical and positive thoughts, so the repetition of negative thoughts and complaints strengthens the brain connections that affect our behavior.
The well-known researcher and neurologist, Prof. Michael Merzenich, has also proven the positive changes that the brain can undergo in an extensive study which was published in 2014. In the study, he examined changes in participants' brains following the administration of psychological treatments that were designed to improve their lives.
Just as the brain can be shaped by negative thoughts, it can also become more positive if you focus on the right things. People who tend to complain should repeat positive thoughts so that their brains can rewire themselves in such a way that makes them less difficult to satisfy. We're all able to do this - we just have to choose which thoughts we focus on at all times wisely.
When we change habits, patterns of thinking, and how we express ourselves, we can create a more positive reality for ourselves, even if outwardly nothing has changed. To do this, you can perform relaxing meditation exercises every day which have countless benefits and can help transform your existence from one end to the other in a positive and surprising way.
To learn more about this fascinating subject, watch Professor Merzenich’s lecture on the brain’s incredible flexibility: