Did You Know that Listening to People Complain All the Time Takes up Your Energy?

30 September, 2020
The problem with being surrounded by people who complain all the time is that it can wind up influencing your mood and bringing you down with problems that aren’t even your own.

Our modern lifestyle has become so demanding that everyone, at some point, inevitably complains about the things they have going on. But did you know that listening to other people complain all the time can actually take up your energy?

The truth is, complaining is a natural response that helps you release tension during complex or painful situations. But a lot of the time – without you even realizing – it steals your energy.

It’s not wrong to feel empathetic when your friends are going through a tough time. But listening to people complain about just about everything can take up much more energy and be much more harmful than you might think.

The most troubling part is that it can become so toxic and manipulative that you start to think you’re insensitive or selfish just because you don’t want to listen anymore.

This is why it’s important to learn how to identify a chronic complainer and understand the effects of that negativity on your life.

The profile of the complainer

This person lives in denial of the life they lead. They’re always trying to be the victim by complaining about what they do or don’t have. Most importantly, they never do anything to change the things that torment them the most.

This might seem normal at first. But over time you realize that instead of being the result of a difficult situation, complaining actually just a part of their lifestyle.

It’s a form of manipulation, whether it’s conscious or not. By having you listen to them complain, they want you to feel pity, compassion, or solidarity, almost like they need your energy to overcome their problems.

Suddenly, you feel like it’s your duty to help them solve their problems, or be ready wipe away their tears at all times.

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The loss of energy and other consequences from listening to people complain all the time

People who complain all the time are so negative that you might start to feel like you’re carrying much more weight than you should be.

Even if you’re able to advise or help this type of person, the simple act of listening to them complain is enough to sap a significant part of your energy.

Although it might be hard for you to see, this causes your brain to undergo changes as a result of the emotions being generated from someone else’s situation.

Feelings like frustration, guilt, and sadness can alter hormone-releasing brain processes. This increases your risk of:

  • Emotional imbalances
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Decreased concentration
  • Negative thoughts

What can you do to confront a complainer?

Not everything in life can go the way you planned it. After all, you often have to face challenges that you didn’t want or even anticipate.

But it’s pointless to lock yourself away out of frustration and bitterness. After all, these are the attitudes that keep you from coping and moving on.

The energy you expend complaining is actually what you need to overcome situations that seem like obstacles.

So, on top of trying not to become a chronic complainer yourself, you also need to understand that you’re not required to sit there and listen to people who are.

You can’t pretend to be able to solve other people’s problems when you need that energy to deal with your own life. Listening to people complain can rob you of the energy you need to manage your own emotions and problems.

So, what can you do if you have one of these people in your life?

1. Get some distance

Whenever possible, try to avoid these people because they will only end up manipulating you.

The less you pay attention to them, the faster you’ll understand that you don’t need to invest your energy in listening to their negative thoughts.

2. Make them understand that their problems are their own

Even if you take the time to listen to their complaints, let them know that even if the problems are real, their way of thinking can end up making things worse.

Most importantly, make sure that the situation doesn’t start to affect you. Advise them to take steps to resolve it by their own means.

3. Don’t show weakness

These people have shown an ability to manipulate others with their negative attitudes. That’s why it’s essential to have a shield up to show that you’re not willing to help them with every single problem that arises.

Although empathy is sometimes unavoidable, try to control the situation so that you don’t feel the absolute need to help when the problem doesn’t even concern you.

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4. Set boundaries

Lastly, remember that you’re entitled to demand that a person doesn’t share their all tragedies and complaints with you. If you’re tired of hearing their negative thoughts every day, tell them that it makes you uncomfortable and you’d prefer not to be their shoulder to cry on.

Do you have a friend or relative who complains all the time? It’s time to act! Don’t let them take the lead anymore. Otherwise, at some point or another you’ll start to feel like all their negativity is interfering with your own life.

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  • Kamenetzky, G.V., Cuenya, L., Elgier, A.M., López Seal, F., Fosacheca, S., Martin, L., and Mustaca, A.E. (2009). Respuestas de frustración en humanos. Terapia Psicologica 27, 191–201.
  • Reguera Nieto, E.A. (2015). Apego, Cortisol y estrés en adultos, una revisión narrativa. Revista de La Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría 35, 53–77.