Disclosure: This is an edited version of an article I wrote on November 4th, 2011 for a pervious blog I owned. No affiliate links are used in this post.
As a spiritual advisor often people think I sit around in a pile of rose petals chanting and offering words of love and wisdom. Oh how I wish. Everyone, even the “spiritually enlightened” have the need to vent and spew their negative thoughts. To do is cleansing and releases the toxicity from our energy. Sure no one likes to be on the other end of the verbal out-lash but as long as our venting is done in a manner which is not harmful toward others it can be “okay”.
Pent up frustrations, hurt, anger, and resentments can do no good for you or anyone. Festering issues build up creating scars on your soul, welts on our egos, and blisters on our hearts.
When we do not release these inner most negative emotions they are stuck inside of us and they burrow in deeper and deeper. When this happens we find our walls growing ever more tall, our shells hardening, and our emotions cut off from those around us – especially those we need and deserve us most.
Often times we go into grid lock, refusing to share our darker thoughts and feelings with others. We do not want to trouble them, we do not want to burden them, or we worry we will be viewed as a negative person, clingy, needy, insecure. Sometimes we find we have complained far too much in the past, or that people have shut down to us due to their own conflicts, or they have become tired of hearing us out.
There is a difference between venting and being a victim. If you find people have shut down on you it is possible you are not venting but that you are being a victim.
A victim often has the same issues that reappear over and over or never go away and are a constant fixture in their lives. Venting happens quickly and swiftly then the person picks themselves up and says “Okay so now this is my new plan”.
First we must identify which person we are and make no mistake, most of us have played both roles at some point in our lives! We are all capable of being a victim and are all capable of being the venter. Some of us just tend to play the victim more often and this is honestly irritating to people who try to help empower and do not want to sit around in even their own drama, let alone another’s.
Note the warning signs. What happens to you mentally, emotionally, physically, when you are on the ledge ready to jump into a vent? Clenched teeth, tightened jaw, reduced or increased appetite, depression, anxiety, anger, raw nerves, scowl, sweating, narrowed or widened eyes, lethargy or increase energy, itchy skin, really there are so many signs and they are different for everyone but try, next time you are nearing that slippery slope to identify your own warning signals.
One you decide if you are being a victim or simply venting ask yourself how to best use your venting process to optimize your forward movement.
Determine the proper way to release the toxic energy within you. Some of us are vocal, while some of us prefer to write it all out, some of us do both, while others need to get out and do something physical. Determine your venting M.O.
Do you need to call your best friend? Ask yourself if you have taxed this person already and if so you may be leaning more toward being a victim than a venter. Have you made any changes to yourself or in your own life since your last ranting or venting session with this person? Maybe its time to start a journal so you can look at your feelings from page to page, day by day or week by week to see if you are getting stuck in your issues or if you are truly working through them. Repeating issues tend to draw us over the line from venters to victims. It is far easier to see repeating patterns in a journal or blog than in the verbal format and much easier to continue the patterns if we have no resource and only the frustration of the friend we find ourselves continuously reaching out for.
Make sure that your release of pent up frustrations and negativity is healthy. Over eating, drinking, gambling, gaming, or anything done in excess, even physical activity, sex included, can become an addiction and in that an unhealthy pattern.
Once you are able to determine your patterns for releasing negative energy you can figure out if you are doing so in a healthy manner or not and this is where you can make positive changes. Try to find a balance in how you are venting, and be sure you are making progress away from the people, places, situations, and things that are causing you to feel the need to vent so often.
Switch it up. It is best to use various methods of venting. If your M.O. is to call your friends, try blogging or journaling for a change. Blogging is a wonderful way to release pent up energy because your friends can subscribe to your blog and give their support when and if they want to. They should feel less pressure to lend a hand or sympathetic ear because they choose to visit your blog and leave comments or not. If your M.O. is to shut yourself up in your home alone watching reruns of Friends eating massive amounts of carmel popcorn then maybe this time get out of the house and take a walk in the park! Nature and being around youthful, hopeful energy can really be a positive healing source! Find a pond and go skip some stones or just barrel them right into the water! There are a million ways to release negativity from pounding a pillow to making chaotic messy art on a canvas! Try anything new and stop the patterns because patterns become habits and habits become addictions.
Establish an order. Once you have identified your warning signs, and found many positive ways that work for you to release your negative energies, it is time to establish a healthy order of venting.
Make a list of your top ten to top twenty healthiest and productive venting methods that you have discovered. List them from the easiest for you to access to most difficult. If you love to use your venting time by taking a walk around your favorite park but it is across town and difficult to get to then that would go lower on your list. You should still make efforts to use this item however easy access is necessary but on days when you really REALLY need that break away from it all before you simply explode – go to the bottom of your list as your best methods will usually be there!
You may have noticed that the methods used for venting are similar if not often the same as those for meditation or relaxation. Bingo! One does not need a negative outlet to get the negative emotions out! Sometimes the most enlightened activities can lead to the most exhilarating expression of release!
Granted, nothing beats hashing your emotions out with a friend, especially one who is supportive, empathic, and has been through some similar situations. We just want to be careful not to use this as our go-to method of release because we find, over time, we tax those friends with our own emotions leaving them little time for their own. This is when we get categorized as the victim rather than the venter.
Here is my list I have developed for myself:
Listen to music.
Write in my own private journal.
Write a letter to the person or about the situation taxing my energy. (note: these “letters” are more for myself and not to be sent but a release only.)
Take a walk at a trail near by.
Go outside and throw knives. (I love this one, oh and I have a wooden target lol)
Nap in the daytime with my pets.
Watch some of my all time favorite movies.
Escape into a book.
Help someone else. (Sometimes being a support system to someone else allows us a reality check on our own dilemmas.)
Clean the house.
Last step! Go back to the source! After you have had your venting time go back to the beginning and figure out where things went wrong. What brought about the animosity, exhaustion, angst, anger, etc. What caused you to hit that wall where a break down was ensuing? Look at it from a clearer perspective and make a plan of action on how to break away from it and clean up the much left in its wake! Did someone pull you into their drama, were you embarrassed, did you trust someone you should not have, did you do someone wrong, were you irresponsible, have you been running in circles in a one way relationship, what happened? You see its not always the other person or a situation that was placed upon you. Some of our drama is very much self inflicted. We need to identify what the stressors were in the first place. Then take responsibility for those we created, and for those we did not we need to face them in a positive manner.
Address yourself, address those who harmed you. We cannot expect closure on a situation that goes ignored or worse off – keeps repeating with no change! Sometimes closure is elusive or non existent depending on who we seek it from but we need to be willing to gain that closure before asking for it. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, are you ready for closure, even if that means change?
All too often I am told that someone has not found their closure on a relationship, for example. This is probably the most difficult of closures to find because most people do not have an honest view on what closure is or what it should be. Really when someone is stuck without closure it often is because they do not want to see the reality of the situation before them. If we want closure from another person we need to ask them WHY and then accept whatever answer they give. It is only in the case of absolutely no answer being given that we can truly and honestly say closure was not obtained. Just because we do not like the answer does not mean the other person did not offer you closure. This is one example of course.
In this last step of the venting process, to come full circle we must face down our demons. That means dealing with the issue and making change! If it involves another person then set up a time to speak to that person directly in person if possible. I realize we have friends and loved ones spread far and wide and an in person chat is not always possible and sometimes the other person will refuse to communicate with us. In those cases a letter is better than texting. Emails are better than texting. Nothing is more annoying than having a “serious” conversation with someone via text. Thoughts are not fluid and clear and there is too much room for misinterpretation and its just so NOT personal. If a topic is important one should take the time to clearly lay their thoughts out in an email at the very least but in person is always key so that you and the other person can see facial expressions, body language, hear vocal inflections and all things that make our communication meaningful. And in the best of circumstances end the communication with a friendly handshake or a wonderful embrace – whatever the outcome. We need not be enemies even if we no longer are to remain friends or lovers! Not all stress in our lives is about people or romance obviously. So whatever has caused you to get into the place of needing to vent, focus on it with clarity and find the resolution. There is always some form of resolution even though you can’t change others you can change the way you deal with others and the way you walk through your day to day life.