Stop Just Venting, Add Perspective
Updated: May 20, 2021
Nothing wrong with a good vent, right? What harm could it do. It’s bad to keep it bottled up. Let it out we have been told.
I have been spinning the inequities and inefficiencies of the U.S. vaccine distribution. I am an Enneagram 3 - I can’t help myself as I am dialed toward positive action with efficiency and effectiveness.
But these last few weeks, I have found I didn’t feel any better to vent on the doses being thrown out because they couldn’t find people in time in the approved government categories or how people are putting themselves into categories 1A and 1B tangentially and getting vaccinated or how my husband is exposed as an essential member of the justice system and our Governor hasn’t replied to my emails asking for equity for criminal defense attorneys - only prosecutors have access. Okay, the vent is over. Why? Because instead of relieving pressure with venting, research shows that venting is not enough. If we don’t vent productively, we build frustration, feelings of powerlessness and anxiety. Ugh! Not the intended result.
Venting feels good short term because you are approaching someone you trust to help you by listening to your frustrations. Ethan Kross, author of the new book "Chatter," says, "When we approach others for help, we need two things from them: support and perspective.
Venting provides support but not perspective." Perspective is figuring out constructive ways to move forward past the frustrations you are feeling.
To help yourself feel better in your venting, try out these three steps:
Pick the right person to vent to.
Choose someone you love and trust to help you during your tough time. For me, I have my go to's - my husband and my friend who moved to Texas. Both will listen to my frustrations without judgment and then both will help me frame to move forward. Everytime.
Set a timer for 10 minutes.
Be conscious of the time you are taking to spew your negative feelings to the person you trust. Don't waste your time focusing on the negative, and don't waste your loved one's time, either. No more than ten minutes!
End the vent with perspective setting to take an action to move forward.
Allow that person or even you when you get skilled, Find a resolution to the negative feelings to move forward.
Just like my husband and friend, Lisa, for me, I do these three steps for our son when he calls flipped out. I let him vent for a few minutes, and then I provide him perspective in the bigger picture. I love him, I don’t judge him, and I help him take an action forward. He is not stuck. You can do this to live more happily.
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