Venting doesn't help.

Venting doesn't help.
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There's this popular idea about getting stressful things off your chest. It's even the mark of a good friend/partner to allow someone to "blow off steam" until they feel better or something. This seemed to work for me as well...until I started paying attention.

Whenever I would vent to a friend about something that was upsetting me, I wouldn't actually feel better. It's in the cultural air that venting should make us feel better, so I kept trying, but all it did was make things worse. Venting just fed my anger at whatever was making me angry; the more steam I blew off, the more there seemed to be. Turns out, it's not just me.

A quick search engine search (even in Google!) will bring up articles upon articles detailing scientific studies showing venting tends to reignite and prolong hurt feelings as well as stir others up toward anger as well. While it can feel good to get other people on your side, ultimately, people end up trusting you less if you vent to them, especially if you do so frequently, because they start to wonder what you might say about them if they make you mad in the future.

So, as good as it might feel in the moment--though, once I started actually paying attention to my feelings, venting didn't even feel good in the moment--long term, it's really detrimental: it pins pain in place and damages relationships even if people might feel special by being chosen as the recipient of venting. But, what to do instead? Just stuff it until you give yourself a coronary? Scream into a pillow but otherwise never let them see you cry? Focus only on the positive and deny anything negative ever happens?

I don't know the answer for everyone, but two things I'm doing now: no longer being a receptacle for venting (and explaining why I'm not available for that anymore) and practicing talking about things as though I don't want them to adhere them to me forever. It's fine to talk about things that are wrong, but my filter is now how can I let this go/release this? as opposed to how can I find validation or win people over to my side?

I'm not at ALL perfect at this - not even close. But it's what I want to strive to get better at now that I'm no longer practicing outrage as a lifestyle the way some ideologies out there demand. I value honesty and candor, so it's not like I'll never talk about upsetting things again. But I also want to grow my relationships as well as in honor and respect. And I don't want to talk about things that have harmed me in a way that makes them mine forever.