Hello guys, been a while, trust you all doing well and staying safe. This too will pass very soon.Venting can be a healthy way to express frustration, but when it becomes toxic, it creates a cycle of negativity that’s hard to repair. Though it feels good to vent in the moment, toxic venting creates significant anger and resentment that is unhealthy for you and your relationships.
On the other hand, healthy venting helps you to heal and move forward. By reasoning things out with someone else, you gain clarity on what’s happening. Confiding in someone often lessens the pain because you feel supported. You avoid getting stuck in all that negativity.
What is Toxic Venting?
Toxic venting feels like an attack on someone’s character. Whether you are the one venting, or you’re listening to someone else do it, this communication makes the other person out to be “the bad guy.” This type of bad-mouthing becomes an intense form of gossip.
With toxic venting, the person gets fixated on the other person’s faults. There is no rationale, only targeted rage. Instead of feeling momentarily upset, the venting mimics contempt, which according to The Gottman Institute for Couples Therapy is the single best predictor of divorce.
Examples of contempt include:
Name-calling, put downs or criticisms that hit below the belt
Acting like the other person “is beneath you”, lazy or stupid
Making comparisons to another person or implying they don’t deserve you
A lack of accountability for your part in the situation
But toxic venting isn’t just about complaining. It’s telling the same story repeatedly from a victim’s point of view. This behavior fuels gossip and resentment which can make them difficult to give up. Unfortunately, some people feed off of a juicy story!
Those who learn this type of behavior as children, may rely on it a way to get attention. Listening to family tell negative stories makes an impact on how we view conflict. These negative stories become almost entertaining, but unfortunately, at someone else’s expense.
Primary Examples of Toxic Venting
Repeatedly criticizing someone’s character but rarely acknowledging their good qualities
Complaining about what others do but never admitting your own behavior
Implying that someone is less than, stupid or worthless in any way
Each time the person re-tells the negative story, the emotional intensity makes it harder to forgive and move forward. Over time, this can impact physical health and create stress-related illnesses.
Living in the negative story feels draining even though temporarily it gives us energy. Over time, people who are emotionally healthy become repelled by the behavior. Some may distance themselves as a way to avoid having to listen to it.
What is Healthy Venting?
When venting is healthy, the boundaries are clear; you are expressing frustration to get support and seek solutions. It’s not a free-for-all to say whatever you are thinking out loud. There are firm limits that don’t get crossed.
Healthy venting acknowledges frustration while not getting stuck in the feelings. When the person vents in a healthy way, their focus is to get relief, not to be right. The person can communicate what’s upsetting without blame or condemning the other person. While this may include some complaining, it’s not the primary focus. Healthy venting addresses what’s not working while brain storming solutions.
Tips for Healthy Venting
Reaching out to trusted friends to reason things out
Expressing yourself through “I” statements which keeps the focus on feelings
Acknowledging anger and other emotions without getting into character attacks
Writing in a journal to express yourself without being censored
When done constructively, healthy venting helps you recognize what needs to change in order to seek solutions. Making an effort to see things from the other person’s point of view tranforms the story. For instance, instead of getting increasingly upset, you start to empathize with the other person. You can hold two different points of view rather than being right.
Healthy venting provides a sense of emotional release and connection because you feel heard. Acknowledging your upset in a healthy way makes it possible to resolve issues without damaging the relationship. That way, everyone wins!
I learnt a valuable lesson yesterday reading a book titled “if not for the Grace of God ” by Joyce Meyer.
I learnt that we can’t do anything in our power to achieve what we want. I also learnt that when you focus your energy and effort into something that is doomed to failure, the only possible result is frustration. And what do we do when we frustrated, we keep up trying harder which only produces more frustration.
We don’t attempt anything without asking for God’s help. We lean on Him the whole way through each project. We maintain an attitude that says, “Apart from Him, I can do nothing”
If you are frustrated about timing, lean to pray with the psalmist, my times are in your hands… (Psalm 31:15).
Sometimes when I feel my time is wasted in a particular circumstance, either waiting to see the doctor, waiting to get an alert from the bank, bad electricity, no water and so on… Yea am not perfect and just human, I get frustrated and disgusted but after reading this inspiring book from Joyce, it changed my perspective to the way I handle my mood when frustrated.
Frustration. It winds you up and can take so much out of you.
Because it not only sucks energy but also distracts you and can steal quite a bit of time.
So what can you do?
Well, sometimes that frustration can actually be positive and can give you a new idea or angle on things. Or it can give you the power to keep going just a little bit more until you reach your goal.
But when you start going in circles, when the frustration just makes you mad or your mind foggy and the day is starting to slip through your fingers then there are steps you can take.
There are ways to turn such a state of mind or day around.
Into something better. Into something more helpful. And into something that will make you feel better again.
Step 1: Be here now.
When you are frustrated then you are often somewhere in the future in your mind. Somewhere you wish you would be. Or you are reliving a stumble or failure from your past.
Snap out of those headspaces and calm down by focusing your mind and attention on what is now, right here at this moment.
You can do so by for example:
Focusing on your breathing. Sit down, close your eyes and just focus on the air going and out of your nose for 1-2 minutes. Take calm and slightly deeper breaths than usual and breathe with your belly and not your chest.
Focus on what is around you at this time. The sun shining in through your window. The kids playing out in the street and the cars and people going by.
The smells and feeling of the clothes and warmth of the sun on your skin. Do this for 1-2 minutes to get your attention back to the present moment.
Step 2: Appreciate what you do have.
After you have pulled your attention back to where it can be most helpful focus it on what is still positive in your life.
The quickest and easiest way to do so is to focus it on appreciating what you do have.
A favorite of mine during this step is the important things we may sometimes take for granted. Like for instance:
A warm home and a roof over your head.
Plenty of drinkable water.
Not having to go hungry.
Access to the internet (and perhaps
your own place to express yourself ).
Your friends and family.
Spend a few minutes on this and you’ll find much to be grateful for.
Step 3: Focus on what you can do right now.
With your attention in the present moment and your mood a more grateful and positive one it is now time to get constructive about what frustrates you.
You can do that by asking yourself:
What is one small step I can take right now to improve this situation?
It may be to see what you can learn from what frustrates you and to try another path towards your goal.
Or it could be to try one more time and to keep going (because not all things in life will come to you the first, second or third time you try).
Or it could be you simply realizing that you may have taken on a bit much lately or things have been tough and that you need to take this evening or a few days to just relax, take care of yourself and perhaps simplify a bit.
So that you can recharge and then get back into moving towards what you want out of your life in a more focused way.
Make note of your triggers and see what you can do about them.
What triggers your frustration?
Is it when your partner doesn’t take out the trash as you had agreed? Or when you’re not making progress as fast you like with your career or hobby? Or when your phone’s interrupting your work all too often?
Whatever it might be, first ask yourself:
What can I do to prevent this trigger in the first place?
For example, put your phone in silent mode or airplane mode and then get back to people during 1-3 scheduled times throughout your workday.
If you can’t prevent it then ask yourself:
What can I do to reduce the frustration caused by this trigger?
For instance, if you get frustrated with delays or waiting time while on your daily commute then ask your friends or google for answers for how others handle this common issue.
You may discover that one helpful solution is an audio book or podcast to listen to divert your attention and to get something good out of the situation while you’re waiting.
Remember: you’re human (and so is everyone else).
Perfectionism towards yourself or others does most often lead to plenty of frustration and disappointment. So set your standards both for others and yourself at a human level rather than at perfection.
Accept that sometimes you will make mistakes, have setbacks and not reach your goals when you’d like to. And so will people around you too.