Healthy venting

She's ready to blow!!!

Why venting doesn't work with your friends or lover, and does work with your therapist!

Venting is a behaviour of speaking out all your grievances to someone. Sometimes it may even include speaking about someone else's behaviour with no intent to share with them.

The purpose of venting and why we can feel drawn to want to vent is to 'offload' the anxiety or angst you feel.

By speaking out all the thoughts and sharing your emotions (frustration, disappointment, anger) it can feel like you are lightening your load.

In reality when you vent with friends or family they aren't in a position to just let you spew your thoughts on the table and hang out to see what you do with them.

More often than not friends and family (with good intention) will do 1 of 2 behaviours:

  1. "Fan the flames": They will jump on board with you agreeing with what you are saying and amplifying the situation. Imagine one friend is sharing their frustration over their divorce process, they start expressing how difficult it is to communicate with their ex, how they see them as manipulative and it feels hurtful. This friend who is in full support of the divorce jumps in with all the evidence from the past to support the manipulation that her friend has just shared. In the moment, the one sharing may feel validated, and then as it continues they may end up feeling like their friend has taken on the fight for them, and left feeling a bit deflated, OR end up feeling more riled up and ready to fight, which later feels exhausting and a bit head spinning.
  2. "Fix": So often friends and family jump in right away with solutions, everything from "get over it" messages, to "you need to do xyz". Both result in the person venting feeling dismissed, or like they aren't doing things well enough, or even can take it as they aren't good enough. And end up feeling defensive in the moment with all the advice giving, and then feeling defeated afterwards.

How is it then that you can feel better venting with a therapist?

Want the secret?

  1. We don't collude with you (we don't jump into the agreeing with factor and amplify things).
  2. We don't fix.
  3. We listen. We believe in your ability to find your own solution and we understand that sometimes sharing things in a safe space can help you feel better. Period.

So how can you get that from your family and friends?

  1. Let them know you have a frustration or upset you really want to share AND you do NOT want them to jump in with you, or to fix.
  2. Let them know they can help you the most by sitting back, paying attention and just listening.
  3. Let them know they don't have to take any of this burden on, you will find your own solution, you just want a chance to discharge.
  4. Lastly, ask if now is a good time.

The set up to a healthy vent is critical and considerate. When you let your person know what you need, you stand a chance of getting that need met!

When you are venting, listen to your words, catch yourself when you are wishing for their "buy-in", and just keep going, because it's not about their opinion that will help you find your resolve, it's about getting things off your chest, hearing your words in the witness of another person.

Give it a go!

With love,
Taunya

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