Why Complaining Is Slowly Killing You

As strange as it sounds, some people tend to seek out anger as motivation. They're always taking offense at something or someone. It’s as if the day would be incomplete if there’s a lack of things to complain about. Sure we all indulge in an occasional episode of moaning now and then. But the idea here is to blow off steam by venting pent-up frustrations. I am certain you never meant to torment yourself intentionally with repetitive negative thinking. We reckon that a session of expressing, externalizing, and venting would alleviate bottled up tension and stress. A good idea, no?

People usually don’t realize how often they complain and that tendency quickly turns into a habit. Like all habits, it gets so familiar that it becomes very nearly invisible. It feels good because it gives us emotional validation and it’s easier than trying to fix a problem. We’re human and we’ll likely say that we are just being honest. Don’t kid yourself — if you have to express outright dissatisfaction or annoyance, that is complaining.

The bummer is, once you start going down this road, it affects your perspective and how you respond to life. It can sabotage your entire day, and possibly your entire week. Whether you’re an occasional griper or have valid reasons to complain, in the long run, your mental and physical wellbeing may be compromised.

To be fair, if people don’t ever complain, they are likely living a life of denial. But what is acceptable? With all the talk about the benefits of emotional regulation, can complaining ever be good for you?

Yes, it can.


It turns out there’s some science behind the art of complaining. For complaining to be beneficial, it has to be solution-oriented. Pause and step back. Adopt a broader perspective. Look around, beneath, and beyond. Master the skill to detect opportunities for solutions. Without that, it’s just going to be an unfiltered rumination on negative experiences.

While it’s definitely helpful to find an outlet to let off steam than stuff away your emotions, venting is not always a healthy approach to express frustration. It's hurting our productivity. Complaining without the intention of arriving at positive outcome fuels further negativity. It takes its toll on our mental health affecting how we handle stress, relates to others, and influences decision making.

When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it. All else is madness.

– Eckhart Tolle

You may be unintentionally reinforcing this nasty practice. Constant complaining begets even more complaining. Like the popular tagline that goes; once you start, you can’t stop. Eventually, this turns into a habit that becomes addictive. And all addictions are the reinforcement of a destructive, never-ending cycle. You may feel good in the act, but more likely the frustration, over time, will increase. You hamper your body's physical functions and further diminish your ability to process information.

Complaining also keeps people from taking action. It opens the door for procrastination that prevents us from reaching our goals. Granted, it’s much easier to pass the buck. Ditch that thought and stop excusing bad behavior. Don't let another’s actions cause you to respond with more of the same.


But beyond all obvious reasons, this seemingly innocent habit is not so innocent considering that it can literally kill you.

Complaining is a negative based thought pattern that draws your body to feel the way you are thinking. It’s a creative act. When you complain, you are dwelling on negative thoughts through continued reinforcement. You continue to attract more of the vibration of what you don't like in your life. We know that how we perceive the world creates our reality. Complaining reinforces that. Your brain retrieves a memory when you sense something familiar. Not only repeat negative thoughts make it easier to think yet more negative thoughts, but it is also likely to strike out-of-the-blue just as you’re randomly going through your day. It can pull you off track.

For a long time, emotions and stress have shown to adversely affect and lower the immune response. Emotions such as anger trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response. It raises your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, plus a plethora of other negative ailments. The list goes on. Just one five-minute episode of anger has the potential to impair your immune system for more than six hours.


Negativity has been shown to rewire your brain, making it easier to see the bad in the world and harder to see the good. The good news, however, is this re-wiring process works not just with complaints, but with any kind of thoughts. On the flip side, the more you invite positive thoughts into your brain, the more inclined you’ll be toward positive thinking more of the time.

The more you complain about your problems, the more problems you will have to complain about.

– Zig Ziglar

A brighter outlook on life enables you to bounce back quickly from undesirable situations by way of quick problem-solving. Complaining, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Being stuck in a negative attitude undermines your brain’s ability to see the big picture because you become obsessed with details. Creative problem‐solving efforts in this state typically fail.

If this isn’t terrifying enough, consider this: just like any negative emotions, complaining is contagious. The alarming part is negative consequences aren’t just tied to the complainer. Someone who spends a lot of time listening to another person griping is likely exposed to the same effects.


We have a type of cell in our brain that mimics the mirror. It creates a direct link between the sender of a message and its receiver. When we see someone experiencing an emotion, our brain 'acts out' that same emotion. By doing this, we attempt to relate to what someone else is going through. Not only that, but this process also triggers the same emotional behavior causing our bodies to react in that similar expression.

This is how you get the feel of stepping into another person’s shoes to understand their feelings and perspectives. Unconsciously, you began to copy facial expressions, posture, and even tone of voice of those you hang out with. You adopt their mental state because you feel for them. So if they are constantly in a bad mood, so will you.

Spending time with positive people makes your life more cheerful. With friends like these, good times are easier to have. Your complaining friends, on the other hand, reinforces and rewires your brain to focus on the dark and gloomy side of life. The little mirrors embedded in your brain reflect their movement and sounds and simulates the same in you. Pretty soon, complaining will becomes your default behavior.

Old habits die hard, but now would be a good time to flip that switch. Surround yourself with those who practice positivity and who certainly don’t have the time or energy for drama.


Just like in nature, our brain trend towards disorder. Left unchecked disorder increases over time dissolve into chaos. However, like any type of exercise, if you work on your brain enough, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish, and in no time, you will turn into a ray of sunshine.

Look, I guarantee there'll be tough times. At some point, you’re going to complain, and that’s ok. But instead of complaining just to complain, look for ways to solve a problem. More importantly, train your brain to become more positive. This can be accomplished through techniques of self-awareness, reflection, and gratitude. Watch out for those in your inner circle. Do they have the potential to contribute or diminish your chances of success?

Next time you feel the urge rising and you’re tempted to flare up, stop, step back, and breathe deeply. Refocus your mind and your energy. Look for ways to turn the situation into something optimistic. Set yourself up on purpose to promote a better mindset that will influence your health, improve your well-being, and enhance your problem-solving skills.

Regardless of how your day turns out, your choice is simple: love or fear. It's easy to get sidetracked and find yourself living by default. But that doesn’t have to be you. The more you do this, the more you will understand, appreciate, and harness the power you hold. It's time to stop complaining and start living.

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