I saw an article on brain changes in folks who listen to complaints, so thought I would explore it a bit here.

Own complaints

When I complain, I usually do it intentionally and to people who have The Work. I may ask them to make a note of beliefs they notice, or also write them down myself. I sometimes also complain to non-TW folks, usually briefly, and make a mental note of the beliefs that come up.

My own complaints are a gift. They show me what’s left. They show me which thoughts I still – innocently – take as true.

Other’s complaints

When I tell myself someone else complains, I again get to see what’s left for me.

I get to see my own beliefs about them, about me in relation to them, and about the stories they share with me.

If I believe these thoughts, I’ll experience stress. (And, as the article points out, this is inevitably reflected in my body, including my brain function and structure.)

As I find more clarity on these stories, I am more free to act with kindness and wisdom, and it’s stress free. I may chose to listen, perhaps with genuine gratitude and appreciation for this person sharing his or her life with me. I may use it as an opportunity for identifying own beliefs and inquire into them. I may chose to respond, perhaps asking what I can do that would feel good or help (and I am free to say yes or no to whatever they suggest). I may choose to leave. And to the extent I am clear on my own stories, it’s stress free and kind.

What the articles points out, and a slightly fuller picture

So the article does point out something important: Listening to complaints influences the brain, sometimes.

What it leaves out is equally important: When I tell myself someone is complaining, and I believe my own stories about it, it creates stress, and this is reflected in my body. I do it to myself through taking my own stories as true. And, I assume, the effects are the same whether I listen to my own complaints or someone else’s. Also, as I find clarity to my own thoughts, it’s stress free. (And that too is reflected in my life. In how I live my life, and in my view, emotions, and body – including brain function and structure.)

Beliefs for inquiry

Here are some possible beliefs for inquiry:

Stories about the person complaining: He is complaining. He should shut up. He should do something about it. 

Stories about myself in relation to him: He steals my time. He doesn’t allow me to leave. He makes me a victim of his complaints. If I leave, he will be upset (he won’t like me). If I tell him I would rather talk about something else he will be hurt/offended. I need him to like me. I need to be nice to him. It’s kind to stay and listen. 

Stories about what he says: I may believe the same stories as he does. (Make a note of these stories.)

And some other ways to identify these beliefs:

He complains and that means….. I need to listen to him. He makes me uncomfortable. He expects me to listen. 

He complains because…. He is confused, insecure, his life is not going well, he doesn’t know how to deal with [….].

What I complain about is….. My body is not functioning well. I need more money. I am not as clear as I would like. She misunderstands me. (etc.) 



– complain, get to see my own beliefs + what happens when I take those stories as true (#3 in TW)
– when others complain, I get to see my own beliefs about (a) them, (b) me in relation to them, (c) their stories (I may believe the same)
– clarity on those beliefs, more free in how I am with people I tell myself complain – more kind, clear
– (if caught up in my own beliefs, then stress, which impacts body, emotions, view, life – including reflected in brain function/structure)


– happens due to my own beliefs about the other person + what he/she says
– if clear on my own thoughts, then OK, only love, recognition (and I am free to stay or leave)
– my own thoughts about the article: they complain, they are small minded, they are caught up in fear/beliefs,

– when i complain, do it mostly with people who have inquiry, and ask them to write down beliefs (sometimes, make a mental note and take to inquiry later)


A friend posted a study on Facebook where they found brain changes in people who listen to complaints for longish periods of time.

It’s perhaps what we would expect to find, on average. And it’s not the whole picture.



I came across an article on brain changes found in people who listen to complaints for a moderate amount of time.

It’s not very surprising, and yet, it’s only a part of the story.

When I listen to someone complaining and I experience stress, this stress is created from my own beliefs.

I have stories about the person complaining: He is complaining, he should shut up, he should do something about it.

I have stories about myself in relation to him: If I leave, he will be upset/he won’t like me. If I tell him I would rather talk about something else he will be hurt/offended. He makes me a victim of his complaints. 

And I have stories about what he says. I may believe the same as he does, which also creates stress for me.

And the stress from all of these beliefs will be reflected in my body, including in brain function and structure.

When I am more clear on these thoughts – about him, me, his stories – I notice my love for him and me, and I am free to talk and act from more clarity and kindness. I take care of myself. And that’s not stressful. In this case, I am free to listen to his stories without stress. I may even find it very interesting, also because it gives me stories I can inquire into for myself.


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