Everyone likes to vent once-in-a-while when feeling angry or upset because it feels good and it’s a great way to reduce stress…or is it?
Although venting sounds good in theory, psychologists claim it doesn’t make you feel any better but might actually make you feel worse!
Although experts are uncertain why this happens, they do have some theories. First, venting keeps negative events and emotions in your mind for a longer period of time. It’s hard to forget about something when you’re constantly complaining about it.
Secondly, anger is contagious because venting can make the other person feel worse, especially if they’re also affected by the situation. As a result, they might be unable to offer the kind of support you’re looking for.
But Bottling Up Your Anger Isn’t the Answer
While psychologists say that anger dissipates faster when you don’t vent, humans have an innate need to be heard. In fact, research shows that suppressing anger and negative emotions is detrimental to your physical health, and contributes to hypertension and other stress related illnesses.
Internalizing your anger can cause you to become extremely self critical, turning you into your own worst enemy, which can lead to depression and self-harm.
Healthier Ways to Express Your Anger
Most of us tend to vent when our anger is at its peak, which makes it very difficult to think clearly and have a constructive conversation or positive outcome.
A more effective way to handle anger is to take time to process the situation before sharing it with anyone else. Thinking things through and cooling off usually reduces the urge to vent.
Should you decide to vent, try to be brief and solution focused. Keeping your “griping” session brief prevents you from reliving the painful moment all over again.
Also, be honest with yourself about the reasons why you want to vent. Is it because you’re looking for a sympathetic ally or because you’re enlisting their help to find a solution? If it’s for any other reason than the latter, take a little more time to process the situation and cool off.
The most important thing you can do to feel better is this: Focus on what you can do today to make the situation better.
Often times anger comes from feeling vulnerable and helpless, which causes us to over react by blaming, criticizing or complaining.
But taking action puts you in the driver’s seat. After all, you are in charge of your life and how you respond to situations. Taking action will empower you and make you feel better too.
Lastly, avoid rehashing the same issue with different people. If you’ve decided to take action and have identified ways to improve the situation, there’s really no need to keep droning on about it because all that does is keep you stuck in a negative place emotionally. Besides, the old adage, while harsh, is true, nobody likes a complainer.
Venting is disempowering and leaves you feeling much worse in the long run. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s easy to say something in the heat of the moment that you will regret later on.
So, the next time you’re really angry or frustrated and want to vent, do your best to redirect your energy into thinking things through and focusing on what you can do to make the situation better both now and in the future. In the long run, not only will you truly feel better but you will be much happier too.