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

The problem with being surrounded by people who complain all the time is that it can wind up influencing your mood.
Did You Know that Listening to People Complain All the Time Takes up Your Energy?
Bernardo Peña

Written and verified by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

Our modern lifestyle has become so demanding that everyone, at some point, inevitably complains about the things they have going on. Complaining is a natural reaction that allows you to release tension in complex or painful situations. However, sometimes, it can take up your energy.

It’s not wrong to feel empathetic when your friends are going through a tough time. But listening to people complain about everything is much more harmful than you might think.

The most troubling part is that their attitude 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, understand the effects of that negativity on your life, and know what to do about it.

The profile of the complainer

A 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 is just part of who they are.
Complaining is a form of manipulation, whether it’s conscious or not. By listening to them complain, they want you to feel pity, compassion, or solidarity, almost like they don’t want to deal with their responsibilities.

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

You might like: How to Distance Yourself from Toxic People

The consequences of 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, such as cortisol. 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.

The energy you expend complaining is actually what you need to overcome situations that seem like obstacles. You can’t pretend to be able to solve other people’s problems when you need that energy to deal with your own life.

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

1. Get some distance

A woman distancing herself from complainers.

Whenever possible, try to avoid complainers and ruminants because they’ll 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 their problems may be due to their attitude.

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 aren’t willing to help them with every single problem that arises.

Although empathy is sometimes unavoidable, try to control the situation. It’s important to block it in some cases so that you don’t feel the absolute need to help when the problem doesn’t even concern you.

Read more: Online Therapy is Within Everyone’s Reach

4. Set boundaries

A woman setting boundaries.

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.

Don’t allow these complaints to be a constant in your life.

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.

If you think that you or someone else you know needs help to improve their communication and express complaints, remember that you can always consult a psychologist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Moya-Albiol, L., Herrero, N., and Bernal, M.C. (2010). Bases neuronales de la empatía. Revista de Neurologia 50, 89–100.
  • 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.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.