How negativity rewires your brain

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Donald Hebb, a neuropsychologist, believed that neurons which fire together, wire together. What he meant by that is that groups of neurons connect in our brain as a result of particular life experiences.

For instance, whenever we think a thought or have a feeling or physical sensation, thousands of neurons are triggered and they all get together to form a neural network. The brain learns to trigger the same neurons with repetitive thinking.

Basically, if you keep your mind focused on criticism, worry, and victimization, your mind will find it easier to bring up those same thoughts for similar situations. Our thought patterns wire our brains to react positively or negatively to the situations we are presented. We get good at what we practice, so why don’t we try being a little more positive?

Dr. Robin Kowalski professor of psychology at Clemson University explains that everyone complains, at some point, at least a little.

There are a few varieties when it comes to complainers:

Those who vent:  This is a very displeased person who doesn’t want to hear solutions, no matter how helpful they may be.

Sympathy Seekers: You know the type. The ones always fishing for attention with their “I’ve got it worse than you do” attitude or their constant and everything sucks demeanor.

Chronic Complainers: those living in a state of complaint, do something researchers call “ruminating.” This basically means thinking and complaining about a problem again and again. Instead of feeling a release after complaining, this sort of complaining can actually make things worse. It can cause even more worry and anxiety.

Bouts of negativity are normal and encouraged to reset our systems. What you want to be mindful of however, is if you are being excessively negative. Why you ask? Because negativity breeds negativity.

Most of us may have been unintentionally reinforcing the nasty habit of complaining, by virtue of … complaining.

Everything around us can influence us and can sometimes even create a lasting impact on our brains. We can increase our IQ, learn new skills, recover from brain damage, gain emotional intelligence, and even unlearn certain harmful habits, behaviors, and beliefs.

While our brains can substantially benefit from positive influences, it can also be damaged by negative factors and can change for the worse.

According to some studies, constant complaining can negatively affect your brain and can initiate more severe problems like anxiety and depression.

Alex Corb, Ph.D., author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.

“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”

Negative people, more often than not, are serial complainers. They have a habit of projecting their negativity onto people, things around them, and are usually fairly vocal about their unfavorable thoughts.

While all of us have a tendency to complain when we get into a tough situation, there are some serial complainers who manage to find something negative in just about anything.

While some people are inherently spiteful, most don’t really like being in this constant state of complaint. Every time they do, they lose a positive part of themselves and soon they are so overcome by negativity that they almost know no other state of being.

The resulting long-term effects of this are usually grave mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Their behavior slowly declines and there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.

While remaining positive all the time is much easier said than done, we should try to curb our complaints for only the most severe situations. Perennially negative thoughts are often the foundation of more serious mental conditions and brain disorders and taking preventive measures is better than looking for cures later on.

So remember. Life is too short to turn to the dark (negative) side. When you feel yourself being overcome with adverse thoughts try reading something, watching a comedy, or talking to a close friend.

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