I’ve heard that people complain at least once in any conversation. The average person complains between 15-30 times a day. So if it’s not you, someone around you is complaining, and that complaint is affecting your brain and your health.
Let’s put it another way. We don’t complain. We vent. We share. We point out. We’re being frank. We’re hurt. We’re not understood. We need a sounding board. We just want to say… Whatever it is, it is a complaint.
Now stop and think about this question: How many times today did I complain or think negatively about someone or something?
Disclaimer: I’m no scientist, so I’m reporting what I have read!
Dr. Travis Bradberry is an award-winning author and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. He writes:
“Repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find it’s easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what’s happening around you… Complaining damages other areas of your brain as well. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus — an area of the brain that’s critical to problem-solving and intelligent thought. When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol… All the extra cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.”
I encourage you to read the entire article here: How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity
Even if you’re not the one complaining, sitting around in a group and listening to complaints is like a prolonged evening breathing in second-hand smoke. It is harmful to your health.
As Christians, our words should encourage and build up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are to be kind and caring, so how do we maneuver through the landmines of complaints and come out positive on the other side, whole and joyful?
First, trust God, take your grievance to him (Psalm 142), he can do something about it), and be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).
Next, there are several ways to address legitimate complaints (whether you’re the complainer or the complainee!). The Bible’s advice is simple. Following Matthew 18:15-35, take your complaint to the person who offended you or a mediator who can help you through this difficult time. Before you meet, consider the following:
-What is my purpose—why do I need to complain?
-Start with something positive.
-Pinpoint the reason for your complaint.
-End with an uplifting, kind word.
We are to speak the truth in love and to address the complaint with intelligent and caring creativity. (Sometimes, words fly from our mouths and are immediately regretted. In those times, apologize immediately.)
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always guarantee easy resolutions or fairness. But God promises he can bring good out of any and every evil directed at us. That’s his sovereign work and our only guarantee in this life. Our call is to practice gratitude and be the person whose words impart light and grace.
Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
– Ephesians 4:29
-Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash