Complaining is harmful to the brain

WASHINGTON – Whining isn’t just annoying, it’s bad for the brain.

Research shows that just a half hour of exposure to complaining hurts the part of the brain responsible for problem solving says Trevor Blake, author of “Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life.”

“So if you’re pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you’re more likely to behave that way as well,” Blake tells

Even passive listening can damage the brain and most complainers aren’t looking for a solution to the problem, they just want someone to share the pain, Blake says.

He offers some tips for defending oneself from the negativity:

  • Move away from the person who’s complaining. Blake likens this approach to moving away from someone who is smoking.
  • Ask the complainer to fix the problem. “I typically respond to a complaint with, ‘What are you going to do about it?'” he says.
  • Put up a mental block. Blake suggests techniques to free the mind, like imagining a favorite place. has more on whining and its effect on the brain.

WTOP’s David Burd contributed to this report. Follow David and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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