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What Exactly Is Going On In Your Brain When You Complain?

In yesterday's post, we touched a bit upon the relationship between complaining and your health.

We talked about how constant negativity and stress related to chronic complaints can lead to changes in the brain and body. I would like to follow up on the ways in which this process affects your brain. Complaining has been shown to rewire the circuitry in your brain, along with influences other changes within this organ that controls so much of how your body functions. Let's take a deeper look.

Rewired Neurons

Your brain thrives on efficiency. It works to make things run as expediently and effortless as possible. Therefore, the neurons in your brain respond to repeated events of any kind by closing in on each other so that the firing of synapses is easier, making communication more efficient. Complaining is one such activity to which such a response occurs. What you are essentially doing is creating a loop or repeated pathway in your brain that makes future complaints more likely to occur because the connection has been well established. In fact, there's a saying for this - "Neurons that fire together, wire together."

Early Neurographical Art by Cindy Rae Fancher

Cindy Rae Fancher Neurographica Art

Increased Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone whose production is increased during times of stress, including the stressful response caused by chronic complaining. It is this hormone that triggers a "flight or fight" response within your body. It shuts down all systems that aren't deemed absolutely necessary. Both blood pressure and blood sugar are elevated during this process. A frequent surge of cortisol also lowers your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high cholesterol, along with strokes.

Shrinking Hippocampus

The hippocampus is the part of your brain that is responsible for cognitive functioning and problem solving. The activity in this region is important to long-term memory, spatial navigation, and emotion regulation. Therefore, you can imagine damage to it would be quite detrimental to your well-being. Complaining on a regular basis has been proven to impair the production of new neurons within the hippocampus, eventually leading to its shrinking in size over time.

As you can see, complaining really does do a number on your brain. It goes as far as to change the structure and functioning within your mind. These patterns are then cemented into place, becoming entrenched and making it harder to move from a habit of negativity to a more realistic and hopeful path. The good news is that the pattern can also be reversed. Changing your thoughts to more positive ones can help create new neural connections that make it easier to continue along that vein. Do not despair. We will continue discovering ways to increase positivity, curb complaining and gain contentment.



Cindy Rae Fancher Neurographica Art


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  • Kebba Buckley Button I am so glad this is meaningful and useful to you! Thank you so much.

    Cindy Rae Fancher
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  • The brain is easily the most receptive to positive stimuli.Thanks for sharing interesting information about the effect of negativity. People need to focus on the positive

  • I hardly ever complain, I like to keep positive on everything. If something isn’t going the way I like I will change it instead of complaining

  • I do my best to NOT complain – which I am happy to know I don’t seeing what it does to the brain! Thank you for the details!

    Julie JordanScott

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