All of us know a Debby-downer who is perpetually negative and tends to bring everybody down with them.
For these people, life is always against them and they can never seem to catch a break. They eventually find themselves alone since their negativity can be physically exhausting to be around.
Everybody complains every now and then, especially in our overly negative society. And for the most part, Dr. Robin Kowalski, professor of psychology at Clemson University, firmly insists that complaining is perfectly normal.
Archetypes Of Negativity
Not everyone with a negative state of mind experiences and expresses their worldview in the same way. Similar to every other personality type, pessimism has its variations.
Here are the 3 most common types of bellyachers:
Venters: Venters are people who just wish to be listened to. They usually look for someone to listen to their problems however are quick to shut down solutions, even when it’s good suggestions.
Sympathy Seekers: Everyone’s come across one of these before. These kinds of complainers always one-up your misery. They always, always have it worse than you and are quick to see the fault in situations and others.
Chronic Complainers: These types of complainers do something researchers call “ruminating”, which means to obsessively think and complain about a problem. Instead of feeling relaxed after complaining, they actually become worried and anxious from the act.
Negativity Rewires Your Brain
Negativity is a downward spiral, meaning that the more you focus on problems instead of solutions, you eventually start to see the negative side of everything in your life.
While bouts of negative thinking happen on and off, it is very important to let yourself vent, but quickly move on to solutions.
And it’s truly worth doing: for one, negativity physically destroys your brain.” … people who regularly experience chronic stress– especially acute, even traumatic stress– release the hormone cortisol, which actually eats away, almost like an acid bath, at the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that’s very engaged in visual-spatial memory as well as with memory for context and setting,” explains Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a psychologist and Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
Plus, negative thinking strengthens neuropathways associated with that emotion, ultimately making it an automatic reaction. The same can be stated of any repetitive thought or action.
Nevertheless, this also allows you change your brain!
How To Stay Positive
You can train your brain to do anything, even when it comes to your outlook. The more you strive to find the positivity in every situation, the more in becomes automated. Eventually, you’ll work hard to see the negative!
Here are a few steps to re-train your brain:
Be grateful: Find something to be grateful for everyday. If you keep a journal, write down 3 things you are grateful for every morning and every night. If you start to feel anxious or pessimistic, stop for a minute and write them down again. If it’s too hard, write down 5 or even 10 new things you’re grateful for. By the end of the exercise, you’ll feel better and fulfilled.
Catch yourself: Do not wait for your friends or family to tell you you’re complaining, pay attention to your thoughts and words. If you’re complaining, quickly shift your energy to find solutions and lessons to be learned. Afterwards, treat yourself will a nice cup of tea for the effort!
Change your mood: If you feel overloaded and negative, remove yourself from whatever you’re doing and shift your state of mind. If you’re home, sit down with your favorite book and cook up a tasty treat. If you’re at work, go to the restroom or break room for a few minutes and listen your favorite song. Breathe deeply and close your eyes, paying attention to every word. Hold onto that relaxing feeling and carry it with you during the day.
Practice wise effort: Wise effort is the practice of letting go of anything that doesn’t serve you. If your worry won’t improve your situation or teach you a lesson, just let it go and move on. This is a lot easier said than done, of course, however if you write it out, ask friends for advice, and take some time to think it through constructively, it really can be done.
If you still feel stuck, here are 5 other practices worth trying: