LIFESTYLE

Why We Bitch (And Why We Should Stop)

25/07/2014 16:59

One of the reasons that Lindsay Lohan's hit-film 'Mean Girls' resonated with such a large audience, was because we all saw glimmers of ourselves in the characters.

I'm not talking about squeezing boobs to tell the weather or wearing pink on Wednesdays, instead I mean their knee-jerk stab-in-the-back mentality.

Because, let's face it, we all bitch - even men.

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Whether having a moan about a useless friend or slagging off your boss with colleagues, there's nothing more soothing than letting off steam behind someone's back.

But sometimes that eagerness to tear someone down can leave a nasty taste in the mouth and you know in your heart of hearts that some things are better left unsaid.

So why do we do it?

Dr Sheri Jacobson, psychotherapist and clinical director at Harley Street Therapy, says that it is often due to unmanaged stress.

"We feel overwhelmed or threatened and instead of finding a healthy outlet to let off steam before dealing with it, our instinct is to vent," she says.

Bitching is often a group sport that can help us to feel closer to others through a mutual dislike of a situation or individual.

"When we bitch we are often looking for someone we trust to agree with us, to take our side and make us feel safer," says Dr Jacobson.

And for those unfortunate souls who bitch constantly, it could be result of insecurity or a defence mechanism.

"Constant bitching can make someone who secretly feels vulnerable appear 'tough'," says Sheri. "It is also is a way to deflect attention away from the bits of themselves they don't want people noticing."

But slagging someone off not only runs the risk of them finding out - God forbid! - it could also damage the health and wellbeing of the person doing the bitching.

"Bitching can be a form of jealousy and eat into our own confidence and ego," warns Nicci Roscoe, The Mind Makeover Artist. "It can become all consuming if you let it and the stress it brings will lead to lack of sleep and exhaustion, which can effect your work and personal life."

But within very safe environments, bitching does have its benefits, says Dr Sheri.

"If we are coming home from a bad day at work and need to offload with our partner - who knows us well enough to see we need to vent and who doesn't personally know the people we are talking about - then we can be left feeling relieved of our stress, cared about, and it can have no negative carry-on."

But bitch in the wrong environment - such as at work or with an unfamiliar group of people - and you might end up in a worse situation.

"If you are going through challenging times in different areas of your life then you may think bitching about others will get you noticed and into a better place quicker," says Nicci. "What you don’t realise is it is getting you noticed in the wrong way! Who wants to associate with a bitch who could end up talking behind their back?"

For many bitching is like an addiction, a terrible habit that is difficult to kick. So how can you stop bitching once and for all?

Nicci says the best way to stop bitching is to change out of a negative mindset.

"Bitching can become a vicious circle and the best way out of it is to think and talk positively - not just about yourself but also about others."

Also, consider who you are bitching with, says Dr Sheri. "It's often a group sport, and if we surround ourselves with people who like to be negative about others, it can be hard to get away from.

"So in some cases, the best way to stop bitching would be to change your social circle."

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