By: Kerdisha St.Louis
It is important to recognize that everyone has this deeply rooted need to vent. As human beings we can compare our emotional state to a jar.
Everyday things happen that annoy us, upset us, frustrate us etc., and those feelings get in the jar and start pushing the positive emotions down. Through my experiences I’ve learnt that in order to experience positive feelings again and be able to connect with our loved ones we need to get rid of the negative emotions that are filling up the jar so they don’t become toxic as often times these emotions are a normal part of life.
But does this mean we can just go around pouring out our negative emotions so we can feel better?
The answer is no.
If you have ever been on the other end of someone venting, many aspects of the message are lost in translation as more attention is sometimes paid to that person’s behavior instead of the message, thereby negating the intent.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with venting. It is actually a healthy habit but it all comes to the HOW and WHEN we do it.
When you need to vent the first thing to do is to accept and express your anger comfortably and non-destructively. It is important to recognize that we all get angry. If you think you don’t, you must be repressing it and it will leak in other ways that will also damage your relationships. Another key point to remember is to express your needs without destroying others. Most of us like to share with our love ones our frustrations and bad moments. Be sure you don’t hurt the listener by aggressive physical movements, high tone of voice, or bad language. Remember to respect boundaries. You have the need to vent but the other person still has the need to be respected. It is not all about you.
On the other end of the spectrum when you are the recipient of somebody else’s venting effective/non-violent communication skills can be of service. If someone says, “I need to vent”, that’s the cue that person most likely isn’t looking for our feedback or a solution to an issue simply a listening ear.
In the cases when we aren’t prepared for a venting episode, we can still ask ourselves (and possibly the other person) “What do you need me to do?” If some feedback is implied in the course of the vent, we can respond to that. If not, we can simply let the vent run its course.
In any case, keep in mind that the person is in an emotional state so do not take things personally or literally.
In regards to the WHEN, to those who need to vent consider the other person’s needs and ask if this is a good time. Being sensitive to the place and time will guarantee that the exchange goes well and that both parts are comfortable.
On a final note, if nobody is available for a venting session, remember that you can do it alone. Screaming on a pillow, journaling, talking to a mirror or even posting online are other options that can help in the meantime. Actually many people report feeling better just by using any of these methods. So there is no excuse for you to feel like a victim ok?
After all, in achieving wholeness and balance, having the ability to moderate between emotional control and “venting” is a necessary component of life.