Venting Doesn’t Help

Venting isn’t an explosion

Venting isn’t a volcano; it’s racquetball. You and the wall batting back your emotion.

Our brains have something called a neuropathway. This is how the brain communicates. The stronger the pathway, the more likely it will be used. Pathways get stronger with repeated use.

Add that idea with every time you speak, you listen.

Venting isn’t letting your bad feelings out. It is keeping them in.

 

Venting Isn’t Great Advice

Venting isn’t good

Don’t vent.

Venting is bad advice because it starts with a premise of our emotions being outside of ourselves. As if your emotions should “be seen but not heard.”

When someone tells you to go away and stops listening to you, do you stop acknowledging them?

No, usually, you plot your revenge.

Our emotions are the same way. They are a part of us. They aren’t invaders.

As such, I pose a different strategy here: acknowledge.

Take a moment and breathe. Your anger isn’t going anywhere, although once accepted, it will give you room to think.

Remember, venting is a treadmill. 

We Work Better With Transparency

Be open and transparent

When things fail, we snap. Getting angry, sad, or depressed is natural. However, it isn’t worth it to vent. When we vent, we just rehash those feelings into a feel good “game” we can use to hide. We flood.

However, it’s just as bad to keep things bottled inside. Suppressing your feelings, so we can avoid dealing with them, is the same as hiding. There are countless families broken apart by faux-stoicism.

Venting and suppressing are both awful. Venting triggers the repeated, intense expression of our upset feelings; suppression makes us harsh, and we tend to unleash without warning.

The better option is to acknowledge and support.

If something bad happens, lead an open discussion. Make sure you give people context. Then, give them space to move forward.

It is ugly at first. Know that transparency helps to build the foundation for great teams.

Venting Leaves A Bad Memory

Venting doesn’t move us forward; it keeps us in place.

People tell you it’s ok to vent after a terrible event.
Someone says “Let it out, it’s ok,” while you wax poetically about some wrong.
It felt good. You got to say all the things they did (all while avoiding your hand in the situation) and your friend (with limited information) let you know how right you are.
Your brain marks this memory, and off you go, using your vent story as the memory of what happened.  This imprint is problematic.
  • It is difficult to understand the lessons learned with a self-told favorable story.
  • A friend supporting you backs up this version of events, making it that much harder to go back to things as they were.
 So here is a quick exercise on venting.

 Exercise

When you want to “vent” do the following:
  1. Go to a quiet place. Sit with yourself for a while; the next step is difficult.
  2. Write a timeline of events, stripping out all emotion.
  3. By each event, write what you did to cause that point to happen and write the other person.
  4. Leave it for an hour or so.
  5. Go back and write what you did. This second pass is critical because there is a high chance that the first pass sounds like venting.
  6. Find the lessons on your end.
This exercise is difficult and venting is not. Venting, however, doesn’t help you understand or make you better. Taking the time to do this exercise improves your decision-making, which means fewer opportunities to vent overall.

Hate-Sharing, Venting, and Keeping the Bad Feeling Alive

Don’t  do it

Yesterday I shared something on Facebook that I didn’t agree with. In my post, I stated that the article below wasn’t good. It was standard, trivial, click bait nonsense. I thought that I was sharing a lesson.

People shared it and I thought I was doing the world some good. I started looking at the shares.

Uh oh. 

People were taking the article as helpful. They didn’t see my warning, they just started sharing.

In my “hate share,” I propagated the article to the world around me. It was a mistake.

Then I realized, we do the same thing when we “vent.” We intend to warn, but when others tell the story, they usually get it wrong. You end up putting people on to something that doesn’t help them grow. They share the click bait and not the warning.

When we “let out steam,” we do so in an emotional state.

This has some after effects:

  • We put the emotion on a treadmill, letting it run around our lives.  Anger doesn’t solve much in such an uncontrolled state, it goes back to “fight or flight.”
  • Introducing something to your social group that doesn’t help them. They might share something from it that wasn’t your intent.

“Venting” doesn’t vent the bad feelings out, it pushes them into other parts of your life.