The human brain never ceases to amaze us. It truly possesses an ocean of possibilities. The more you explore it, the more undiscovered facets you find. It is really astonishing to know how a human brain works – neurons firing, cells rewiring, brain changing structure!
As science has progressed, so has the developments in the spheres of brain imaging and neuroscience. These advancements have also reinforced the notion that the brain is capable of re-engineering, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity.
It is quite wonderful, really. Consider this:
1. We can work on our intelligence.
2. We can learn new, life-changing skills.
3. Certain brain damages are reversible.
4. Just as our IQ, our emotional intelligence can also be improved.
5. Where we can learn, we can also “un-learn” certain negative attitudes and behaviors.
In short, it is really up to us how we train our brain, either for the worse or for better.
Your beliefs and the changes in the brain
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” – Donald Hebb, early pioneer of neuroplasticity and neuroscience.
In essence, it is how the restructuring works when we think. The thoughts fire the neurons and structural changes in the brain follow. Dr Michael Merzenich is identified as perhaps the world’s most notorious neuroscientist.
Here is what he had to say about beliefs changing our brain: Your experiences, behaviors, thinking, habits, thought patterns, and ways of reacting to the world are inseparable from how your brain wires itself. So, the more positive you think, better the changes and vice versa.
Neuroplasticity and illness
This relation is pretty much summed in this quote by Alex Korb, 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.”
Brain Changes in complainers
Complaining is quite a normal behavior. We all complain. Problems arise when these complains are deliberate.
You know how certain people are plain negative? How they aren’t gratified, ever? Their complaints are problematic because usually, negative people are almost always complainers. They don’t seem to keep their complaints to themselves either – you will witness them ranting out every now and then.
If we have to categorize them, they can be assorted in the following ways:
1. Attention-seeking complainers: quite a self-explanatory kind. They would always dwell on about how they have got things worse from others, only for the sake of seeking attention!
2. Chronic complainers: state of complaints is prevalent 24/7! They ruminate.
3. Low-EQ complainers: Since lower EQ indicated lower emotional understanding, they won’t be interested in your perspective, thoughts or feelings. Complaining without regard for others is what they know.
You will also like reading: How to Train Your Brain to Stop Worrying About the Things You Can’t Control
Is the brain responsible for all this complaining?
Of course, it is the brain! Nobody likes feeling down but, when these people are caught in the continuous loop of complaining, inevitable changes occur in thought processes and the brain is rewired as such leading to altered behavior eventually.
You know what’s even more interesting? Our brain has something called negativity bias, implying it has a natural tendency to focus more on negativity. Another neuroscientist, Dr Rick Hanson, explains it: “Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly.”
Summing it up, we fire and re-fire neurons responsible for negative bias when we are complaining. We focus on the negative repeatedly which, in turn, becomes a behavior. It’s how we learn, through repetition.
Obviously, we can’t be happy all the time. However, we should try focusing on the good and avoiding the negative thoughts. Meditation and mindfulness are two proven tools for fighting negativity and elevating the mood. Complaining, just as any other negative behavior, is due to the re-wired brain neurons. It isn’t something you can’t avoid. If we can train our brains to complain, we can surely train them not to.