Lessons from Shiloh… Venting

Today as I was getting ready to take Shiloh out for her walk I had to giggle at how she was venting her excitement.  It reminded me of a recent article I read about venting, when it comes to how we express our anger, frustrations and disappointments.  I was a little surprised at what the research shows.

At first blush, venting can seem like a good thing.  Not keeping our anger bottled up and releasing it you would think can help us heal, but actually it keeps the story alive and can work against us.  Especially if you are venting over and over about a particular situation, whether it be to other people or even if we keep venting or re-living it in our own minds.

Our brains don’t know the difference between an actual event and an event we are thinking about.  You can be thinking about and silently venting about something that happened ten years ago, your body reacts like it’s happening right now.  You will be thrown into a psychology and physiological stress response.

Excessive venting, as an emotional release, is the equivalent of trying to put out a fire with gasoline.  What happens when we practice or rehearse something over and over?…we get better at it!!  So every little disappointment or frustration can become charged for us, sending us into “knee jerk” overreaction or creating a “victim” mentality.

Being able to diffuse those negative emotions around a situation or person, in a way that is more productive and healing is critical for our health and emotional growth.

Also, being able to see what the root of those emotions are and why you are triggered is so important.  It’s less about the actual event and more about what we make it mean.  All our own “stuff” comes up based on our experiences, beliefs and insecurities.

If you are quick to anger take a self-survey and ask yourself:

“Why am I getting so hooked or triggered around this situation or person?

“Do I feel better when I vent or does it keep me in the “stress soup”?

With everyone venting on social media and stories being repeated over and over on mainstream media, I think it’s important to protect your energy and important to decide for yourself how much of the negativity and media “venting” you want coming into your consciousness.

Allowing too much around you can be contagious.  There is a term called social contagion, in which the short definition is, “moods spreading from one person to another.”  Feeding your mind with the negativity and dwelling on the “what’s wrong”, then jumping on the venting bandwagon will be more likely.

Being able to make the shift out of overreaction and constant venting and finding more positive ways to express your emotions and diffusing the things that would normally set you off is critical to your wellbeing.   Substituting a good book, bubble bath or walk in nature for watching the news, endless hours on social media or being around negative people is a good start.  The choice is yours!

I feel a real need to observe a level of propriety in what I’m handing out. Instead of me just venting or spilling my guts, I’ve got to consider how it’s going to affect people. How it’s going to affect me, as well. Because it’s like a cycle.
~Eric Clapton~

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