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Venting: Is it Healthy or Harmful?

Post by Drew Lawson on May 06, 2015

If there was a gold medal for venting, I would be in the running. Most of us have learned that venting is healthy and productive. I came across some very interesting information that suggests that venting is counterproductive, even harmful for us and those around us.

A common saboteur that we "listen" to is known as The Victim. Who is The Victim saboteur and what does he/she whisper in your ear?  The Victim takes everything personally, spends too much time venting and seeing everything that happens to them as a wrong done to them. The Victim loves the blame game, always finding someone to blame all the while puffing up and feeling justified in their blaming, venting, and complaining. The Victim convinces you that the only way to gain attention and affection is through feeling sorry for yourself, venting, complaining, and emoting. The Victim wants you to focus on painful feelings. The Victim wants you to remain in the victim loop by trying to convince you to be inactive and continually find the source of all your problems with someone other than yourself.

The venting and complaining that ensues spills out like a garbage truck backing up to dump - a heap of trash on top of your friends and family which makes those around you feel frustrated and helpless that they can never get you to a happy place. This is the less explored detriment to venting and playing the victim. In addition to exploring The Victim saboteur in your life as it relates to venting, recent research points out that venting increases our anger. In this clever study, it was found that those allowed to vent became more angry. This was counterintuitive to me. I have always thought that venting is "healthy", but it has become clear to me that venting can be unhealthy.

So what to do with our venting: 

  1. Clearing

    I have always encouraged my kids to share their feelings, worries, and concerns with me. Sometimes the only way to "move on" from the trauma and drama of a painful event is with a little venting. I say little because it is clear that venting is in general counterproductive and detrimental. In coaching, we call it clearing, and the skill of clearing is setting a timer for 3 minutes to let the client spew out all the venom - aka rant. When the 3 minutes are done, it is time to move on.
  2. Recognize the Saboteur

    The antidote for this victim pattern/Victim saboteur? Recognize when self-pity, blame, resentfulness show up or when you get the urge to vent and complain and say to yourself, "I see you Victim, and I am not going to play along. Venting and complaining hurts me and those around me."

  3.  

    Responsibility

    Take full responsibility for your actions, for the part that you play in your current situation. It is NOT someone else's fault that you are here.
  4. Change

    What part of the venting can I take responsibility for and change? What part of the complaining is a request waiting to be birthed?  It is far healthier to voice your request rather than continuing to complain.

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Drew Lawson

Drew Lawson

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