Whether it’s the sly comment about a colleague, or the outright session discussing the endless negative attributes of your neighbour, at one time or another we’re probably all guilty of having a damn good bitch.
We could argue it’s healthy to vent, we could explain it makes us feel better, but what we discovered in Year 9 still holds true today, slagging someone off always comes back to bite.
Akin to a group sport, bitching is all about feeling close. It lets us into a secret club where we share our negative impression of a person or situation and take comfort that we’re not alone. But for the fleeting moment of satisfaction, there is always a price to pay.
A little vent may seem like a good idea at the time, but it tends to be contagious. Not only does it fail to make you feel better, chances are it rubs off on those around you as well.
And we’ve all been there…working in that environment that’s toxic with negativity or approaching that social situation where things just don’t feel right.
The Huffington Post notes extensive bitching can even be a form of insecurity that ultimately eats into our confidence and ego. It can indicate jealousy and become all-consuming, impacting other areas of our lives. And yes, it can become a habit that’s terribly hard to kick.
Importantly all this negativity creates a pattern in your brain. Neuroscientists note that every time you have a thought, it builds a chemical bridge from one synapse to another. The more often you have this type of thought the closer the synapses become.
In the meantime, negativity releases the stress hormone cortisol, which in the long run can be downright bad for your health. Elevated levels of cortisol interfere with learning and memory, lower your immune function, decrease bone density, raise your blood pressure and more.
When talking about people behind their back extends to your inner personal circle, the repercussions are far worse. Those tiny comments you make about a good friend or your partner start to build up into full-blown resentment.
As it builds, it’s eroding trust and honesty, and these are the first tiny steps on the path to secrecy and betrayal.
If bitching is a bond you share with your friends, realistically that’s not a safe space to be. It’s a friendship founded on negativity, designed to exclude others, and when backstabbing is a group habit, it’s a matter of time before it turns on you.
Of course, everyone needs to let off a little steam every now and then, and that can actually have a positive effect. But the difference is in the spite involved and the intended outcome.
Straight out backstabbing isn’t designed to achieve an end result, whereas venting about a situation can help work something through.
The difference comes down to whether this about solving a problem or about making you look better by bringing another down.
Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her