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06-17-2016 05:12 PM - edited 06-18-2016 03:07 AM
Now I know why sometimes I feel better
if I "vent" or "rant" and sometimes I don't feel
"From job woes and relationship troubles to health problems and financial concerns (not to mention long lines, lukewarm coffee, and other daily annoyances), everyone's got something to complain about.
In some ways, this is a healthy and normal part of life. Voicing concerns, identifying pervasive stressors, and figuring out how to surmount the many minor frustrations our days bring us are all part of being a healthy, functioning human.
And if you’ve ever bonded with someone over a shared dislike (like the latest movie everyone’s raving about that you hated), you know firsthand that group-level griping can be a quick route to feeling closer with others.
Too much time spent focusing on the negative—and drawing everyone’s awareness to what’s wrong in your life—can lead to some seriously un-fun consequences.
From pushing away friends (or making them equally miserable) to wrecking our own health or quality of life, complaining can go wrong in so many ways.
If you think blowing off steam helps you feel better, think again.
“There is no scientific evidence that venting helps us calm down,” says Brad Bushman, Ph.D., professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
In fact, his research shows that ruminating over remarks that angered you (or in his particular study, working out aggression by walloping a punching bag) only makes people angrier and more aggressive.
It’s one thing to share with a close friend or S.O. something that’s troubling you—even if all you’re looking for is a little sympathy.
It’s another, says chair of psychology at University of Wisconsin-Bay, Ryan Martin, Ph.D., to elicit the same degree of angst, anxiety, or moral outrage that you feel in other people. (Guess which one is the healthier option.)
Storming into a colleague’s office, getting into altercations with strangers (road rage, anyone?), nagging, and whining are all ineffective ways to express our emotions, Martin says.
(See also: rudeness, passive-aggression, swearing, hitting, or any other physical expression of frustration.)
This isn’t to say we should shut down or try to deny our emotions. As Bushman notes, suppressing our feelings can also lead to heart issues—as well as negative effects on our emotional well-being.
A much safer bet—for our own sake as well as others'—is to learn how to know when your griping is making things worse.
How to Spot Ineffective Complaining
1. Notice when you’re not doing yourself any favors.
If you’re itemizing your woes to a person who can’t do anything to help, you’re not interested in seeking a solution, or you’re totally avoiding any and all attempts to process how you’re feeling, you’re likely not complaining effectively, Martin explains.
2. Check in with yourself at the bodily level.
Does your heart rate or blood pressure remain cranked up well after you’ve aired your presumed grievances? Are your face, shoulders and jaw feeling tense, or has your breathing grown shallower?
All of these are signs you’re increasing your own misery rather than truly alleviating it.
3. Take note of others' reactions.
Do people draw away from you, cower, or react angrily in response to your griping? “If others become defensive around you, this may be a sign you’re coming on too strong,” Bushman says.
4. Pay attention to long-term outcomes.
Have you been ruminating over the same problem(s) for weeks or months with no solution in store, or are unable to make any headway in solving those issues?
If so, you may need to get clearer on what, exactly, you need to feel better—and how you’re going about getting it, says San Bolkan, Ph.D., professor of communication studies at California State University, Long Beach.
The Better Way to Complain
1. Figure out what you actually want.
Bolkan’s research on consumer complaints shows that many people skip the crucial step of stating how they’d like to see a recent wrong redressed. Do yourself a favor and clarify what you see as the issue and what you envision the best solution might be. (Writing these basic facts down and consulting with a trusted friend can help aid this process.)
2. Talk to the right person.
Once you’ve figured out what’s upsetting you and what you’d like to change, you’ll have a better idea of who can actually help make things right, Bolkan says. Approach them with your grievance rather than offloading your unhappiness onto people who can’t resolve your problem, and you’re much more likely to get your needs met.
3. Don’t be hostile.
No matter how rightfully P.O.’d you are, being a jerk is not only unnecessary, it can make people far less willing to assist you and more likely to keep their distance. “When people are hostile, they can trigger defensive reactions as opposed to reactions that might better facilitate the resolution of a problem,” Bolkan says.
Be mindful of the tone of your voice, your body language, and your inclination to blame a particular person (i.e., not yourself).
Remember: The less overwhelmed others feel by our emotions, the more willing they are to listen.
So be mindful of the tone of your voice, your body language, and your inclination to blame a particular person (i.e., not yourself).
Most importantly, remember to thank whoever offers you any assistance. Not only will this reinforce their willingness to help you out in the future, but being grateful also helps free you from ruminating and, as a result, helps make your problem-solving more effective.
Negativity can spread faster between people than the most viral video of hamsters eating tiny burritos.
Save yourself (and your loved ones) from further misery by working on self-regulation and seeking clearer solutions to resolve whatever it is you see wrong.
Not only will this benefit all your relationships, but the better you become at avoiding rumination, anxiety, and rage, the healthier you’ll be in the long haul."
06-17-2016 05:26 PM
I don't ever feel the need to vent. Two things I have working for me are my mind and and my body. I do not "yell" at computers/talk incessantly about "poor me"/slam doors or break things.
For me I see no gain, but many conceivable down sides. For those that feel the need to vent? I enjoy reading some of them, but others, I say, HUH?
06-17-2016 07:47 PM
It depends in what the venting is about, and to whom. It can be helpful, and calming to vent about quite a few things to family and friends, as long as you don't beat it into the ground and turn them off. A little sympathy is a good thing.
Venting or ranting to virtual strangers (which includes discussion forums) can easily become a type of road rage with raging verbalizations, and #s 1 and 3 come into play. At that point, nothing is or can be accomplished that is good for anyone. But just as with true physical road rage, the person may lack the control to break away and draw back.
06-17-2016 09:34 PM
Boy I wish I could get some people who work at my company to read this
I am certainly not a polyanna, but there is nothing worse than someone that is constantly complaining. It drags everyone else down. One negative person can really ruin the morale of a whole team.
06-18-2016 01:47 AM
I feel better after venting. But I don't do it to everyone. I only confide in my husband and my best friend depending what it is.
Personally, I think its better to vent then to hold things in. I know some people that hold things in and they ended up on nerve pills or anti depressants. So I will keep venting if I need to!
06-18-2016 10:39 AM
'I don't know' (again, lol) ..... I'm thinking that it's better to vent than to keep it in. Maybe while walking with friends, etc. Lots of folks now-a-days have complaints about 'this and that'. Less expensive to just chat our feelings away with friends, rather than expensive professionals. We're always complaining about something on walks. Dog poop, gardener blowing leaves and dirt everywhere, all kinds of world-wide topics to vent about.
06-18-2016 01:58 PM - edited 06-18-2016 02:33 PM
06-18-2016 03:10 PM
I try very hard not to vent because it seems once I start I just go on and on. I need to back off, run things through my mind before I speak to anyone else about whatever the vent is about.
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