Hippocampus – God Bless You!

According to recent research, complaining actually makes you dumb. So if you know a serial complainer – or if you are one – run away fast!

by Pete Ferguson

Recently Inc. Magazine online ran a story by Minda Zetlin entitled “Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain.” It’s a great read I can highly recommend.

Complaining has its own gravity, it attracts more negativity.

I’ve found in my own life, complaining is the excuse for inaction. It gives me an armchair quarterback seat to fixing the world’s problems by saying how things “should be.”

But things won’t improve when I’m sitting on a pile of “if only …’s.”

Even worse, being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity – including such material on TV – actually peels away neurons in the brain’s HIPPOCAMPUS. “That’s the part of your brain you need for problem solving … Basically [complaining] turns your brain to mush.” ~ Zetlin with a quote from author Trevor Blake.

It is important here to distinguish between complaining and legitimate problem solving, and the distinction is simple. Just ask yourself what action is taken after an issue is raised?

There is a reason we call constructive criticism “constructive” – it should result in improved future results.

But complaining is like smoking, according to Blake. Wether you are the smoker or the second hand smoker, the long-term results can be the same. So create distance between yourself and a complainer.

Another strategy I’ve had in place for some time – I’m a recovering serial complainer – is to think before I speak. If I can’t find a solution to something, then it is gossip or destructive. So when I find myself in a rut, I just say, “I guess there isn’t anything I can do about it right now,” and then change the subject.

How do you deal with complaining? Or how have you overcome serial complaining disorder (SCD – I just made that up, Google doesn’t back it up … yet)?

Learn: Pay attention to your language today, and what you are doing with drive time and down time. What kind of language, radio shows, and television/movies are you drawn to?

Act: What one thing can you do differently? I have replaced radio with podcasts for a long time – but recently slipped back to radio on my drive time. I’ll be loading up with good podcasts again to propel my thoughts forward.

Share: How can you handle a serial complainer? Blake recommends “try to get the person who’s complaining to take responsibility for a solution – I typically respond to a complaint with, ‘What are you going to do about it?'”

Inc.com – Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain, Melinda Zetlin. Exposure to nonstop negativity actually impairs brain function. Here’s how to defend yourself.



One thought on “Hippocampus – God Bless You!

  1. Thanks for the great post. I am also a recovering Serial Complainer. I am now realizing what an exhaustive amount of physical & mental energy it took.

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