We all have some bad days, don’t we? Of course, some are just the worst, when you feel that things are just not under your control. It could be because of a fight with a close friend, an awful argument with your boss, or something on the home front. Whatever the case may be, sharing what you feel with your close friends or family just helps to release those pent-up emotions. You instantly feel better, isn’t it? Well, that’s the power of venting, because you let it all out.
But yes, it does matter who you share this information with. Some are patient listeners and will empathise with your situation. There might be some people who may look ‘bored’ or pay no heed to your state of mind. If that happens, venting to them is likely to make you feel worse.
Before we get to the other details, let’s first understand why we vent.
“As humans, we experience a range of emotions. There are many people who regard emotions to be a sign of weakness, but on the other hand, they serve as signals to tell us what really needs our attention. More often than not, people feel that these feelings and emotions are private, so they refrain from sharing them. But the fact is when we connect with people and share our experiences, we also gain perspective, and venting fulfills a lot of our needs,” says Akanksha Pugalia, a Pune-based psychologist, to HealthShots.
Plus, when you really put your feelings into words, you also realize what’s really bothering you. That makes you better equipped to handle similar instances in the future.
No doubt, venting is a healthy practice, but not when you do it all the time.
“When you vent all the time, it feels great at that point, because you have someone to hear you out. It makes you feel wanted when you are dealing with a difficult situation. But if you do it all the time, you will be unable to make sense of what you are going through. You will always need someone to hear you out, and in case your friend or family member is unavailable, you will feel helpless,” adds Pugalia.
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Moreover, when we vent all the time, we repeat several instances, and those stay fresh in our minds. So, it’s even more difficult to move past the situation.
“Releasing emotions is great, but if we just let it all out without finding a solution to soothe ourselves or find meaning, it’s a sure shot way to really extend our suffering,” says Pugalia.
It’s the same with social media as well. As per a study, researchers surveyed students attending Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University after mass shootings occurred at each campus. The exercise was to see if venting on social media helped them feel better. Although students did ‘seem’ to feel better, their post-traumatic and depression scores skyrocketed, post venting.
“Venting without learning from your experiences is quite pointless. Also, if someone continually whines or vents on social media, their audience also catches on to those feelings. If not done in a healthy way, venting can really form cracks in relationships. Just like everything else, there needs to be a healthy balance that must be maintained,” says Pugalia in a candid chat with HealthShots.
1. Do not vent all the time: Yes, venting is therapeutic, but when you do it selectively. You can also gain perspective by writing down your thoughts. Only when you really feel the need to, that’s when you must vent.
2. When you vent, ask the listener to share their perspective: It’s quite common to get stuck in a cycle of co-rumination, where you and your friend are only rehashing a particular incident. That will definitely put you in a loop, and it’s hard to detach yourself from the situation. Instead, ask the listener to share their perspective, so that you can think differently.
3. Venting to everyone is tricky: Before you decide to vent to someone, ask yourself if you really benefited from the last time you did. Or did it make you feel worse? Sometimes, certain people stir us emotionally, and that might just worsen your situation, instead of making it better.