We’ve all been around that person, the one that has a complaint about anything and everything they encounter in life. This toxic habit may be a bigger problem than we once expected – even rewiring our brains for negativity in the future!
It’s a habit that many of us engage in and justify in our lives, venting out our frustrations in a given situation. Think back to the last time you and your co-workers were discussing life around the office, or your conversations with the girls about all the things your partners have done to drive you nuts. If anything, it’s seen as a normal bonding opportunity, finding common grounds to complain about. However, experts say that engaging in this type of negative thinking may actually do far more harm than good.
A study published in ‘Behavioural Brain Research’ set out to explore the potential impact of both positive and negative words on the function of the human brain. It’s a topic that few had truly explored, focusing instead on our emotional reaction to this type of outside stimuli. However, the researchers were able to determine that not only did negative words and favors trigger negative feelings and emotions, but they actually activated a different area of the brain altogether. In fact, the way that our brains process words may be far more complex than we have ever considered!
When we are exposed to words like ‘coffee’ or ‘perfume,’ experts say that our brains now only respond in the area of language-processing, determining the word itself on a basic level, but we also see activation in the areas associated with smell.
It was this concept that researchers took into the study, this time interested to see whether there was a physical impact on the brain associated with the processing of negativity. While we may think that we are releasing our anger and frustration by venting to the people around us, we are actually triggering negativity on an even deeper level.
Furthermore, we are not only introducing more negativity into our own minds but by commiserating with our friends or coworkers, we are upping the negativity for those that we associate with. It’s important to note that this won’t just impact them… When the people around us are engaged in a negative mindset, this will, in turn, come back to impact our own lives as we, in turn, are exposed to their negativity. This creates a vicious cycle that we may struggle to break free from.
Not convinced to remove this toxic energy from your life yet? Research from Stanford University revealed an incredible disturbing long-term impact. Their data showed that regular complaining actually causes the hippocampus to shrink – the area of the brain is associated with ‘problem-solving and intelligent thought.’ So, not only are you creating a toxic cycle of negativity, dominating your life and robbing you of your happiness and joy, but you are also physically damaging your brain and its ability to function at an optimal level! Pretty big stakes just to get something off your chest…
So, next time you’re considering a vent session with the friends over a cold drink, you may want to reconsider. Stick with a different conversation for a happier, healthier future!
Image via The Power of Silence