How To Vent To Someone When You Really Need To

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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist as a means to vent effectively and get the best advice possible. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.

Have you ever had a hard time and just needed to get it all out?

Of course you have! Everyone has!

The need to vent is perfectly normal and healthy. Talking about the difficult things we’re going through offers us a chance to process the emotions we’re experiencing differently.

However, just sitting around and thinking about it doesn’t necessarily take you in a forward direction. Instead, some people find themselves ruminating on the difficult thing they are dealing with, which takes them in circles.

Venting is necessary to help get those negative emotions out. Unfortunately, some people prefer to keep everything buried inside, which isn’t healthy for the long term. Not dealing with negative feelings can affect your stress levels, cause heart problems, and fuel anxiety and depression.

Still, some people don’t feel like venting helps them at all. That may be true, or it may be that they just haven’t found a method of venting that actually provides the benefits they are looking for.

But there are right and wrong ways to vent. The purpose of venting itself is not just to sit around and talk about your problems, which can also turn into rumination, but to process the emotions so you can keep moving forward.

Who should I vent to?

Venting doesn’t always have to be talking to a trusted friend. Sometimes venting is pouring out the information to a trusted counselor, journaling out the emotions, or talking about your problem in a support group with like-minded souls.

For people with chronic problems like an illness or mental illness, a support group can be a great option to air out those frustrations and get feedback from other people who have been there.

If you don’t have any close friends, a support group, therapist, or journaling can be a fantastic way to vent out your negative emotions.

We would encourage you to methodically use a pen and paper if you are going to journal rather than a keyboard or device.

The reason is that handwriting exercises different parts of the brain and forces you to think about the problem linearly as you try to get it out on paper. It forces you to slow down and move at the pace of your pen to express your thoughts well. You don’t get that same kind of processing when you can just backspace your words away or hammer out your emotions at 100 words per minute.

Still, even if you’re not so inclined to handwrite your venting, anything is better than nothing.

How do I vent in a healthy and effective way?

Venting should be viewed as a process to help you deal with your emotions. By looking at it as a process, you can keep yourself from getting locked into circular thoughts and unhealthy patterns.

1. Give yourself some time to process.

Let some time pass between the event you need to vent about and actually venting. You may find that you can cool off and find your own equilibrium with a little extra time. This is valuable because jumping straight into those negative emotions that follow difficult or trying circumstances can perpetuate the negative emotions.

This will also benefit you from not overextending any support network that you might have. You want to tap it when you need it, not excessively, so you don’t overdraw. Most people are more than willing to be there for their loved ones who are having a difficult time, but if it’s a constant thing, you will find your support falling away.

2. Look at the situation for what it is.

Negative emotions can sometimes get away from us. They like to try to spiral out into things they may not be. The best way to combat this is to try not to rush to judgment and avoid assuming. You may not have an entirely clear picture of what happened to cause the situation to happen. This is also helpful for taking some time to cool off between what happened and reacting to it.

Ask yourself, “Does this actually require a reaction or emotional investment?” If the answer is no, you may want to engage in some distraction instead.

3. Distract yourself from the negative event.

Distraction is a powerful tool for evening out extreme emotions and responses before taking action.

The problem with emotions is that they are not always rational or relevant to an experience. And suppose you’re mentally ill or have some other kind of emotional regulation problem. In that case, it is a good idea to pull your thoughts away from the thing and revisit it later.

That’s not ignoring an issue or pretending it doesn’t exist, so long as you actually do go back to it later. Because when you do come back to it, you may find that your emotional reaction was a trauma response or driven by whatever you’re dealing with. Anxiety and depression can cause a person to feel many emotions that may not accurately reflect an event.

4. Tap your support network.

If you find that you still need to vent, then touch base with someone in your support network or your group. Explain what you experienced, why you’re experiencing it, and request feedback if that’s what you want.

Of course, not everyone does want feedback. Sometimes a person just wants to be heard, but the listener may not be able to tell. So be certain to be clear about what you actually need from your support.

5. Put a limit on how much you are going to vent.

It can be any kind of limit that works for you. For example, maybe you can limit yourself to a 15-minute conversation. Another option is to only allow yourself to talk about it once or maybe twice if you are trying to find your way through a difficult situation.

The important thing is that you want to avoid sticking your fingers in the wound over and over and continuously hurting yourself with the thing that is painful for you. It’s not healthy for you, and your listener is not going to be interested in hearing it over and over again.

Another issue is that you do not want to become overly reliant on other people to help you manage and solve your problems. This is one reason why a therapist may be the best choice, because they are trained in helping you find solutions for yourself, rather than needing to rely on others. But, of course, that will depend on the problem you’re dealing with too.

For example, suppose you are navigating a traumatic experience or the emotions it caused. In that case, your friends or family will not be equipped to deal with that. You’ll only end up going in circles and may even make the problem worse for yourself because you have too many people providing incorrect input.

6. Be sure to deposit back into your support network.

A good way to think of your support is as though it is a bank account. Every time you vent or need support, you are making a withdrawal from the account. And if you only withdraw, sooner or later, you will find that you have nothing left. The person will be emotionally spent or no longer willing to give you support because you aren’t providing anything back to them.

Do make sure you are trying to give back to the people in your support network in whatever way you can. It doesn’t always have to be emotional support, though. If you don’t have the emotional bandwidth for it, you can also supplement your own support by doing something nice for the person as a thank you.

Most people who are the kind of people who are willing to listen and be supportive typically don’t want grand gestures. But you can do small things like buy them some candy or give them a thank you card. Still, the best thing you can do is support them and be their sounding board when they need a kind ear to hear them.

Do consider other coping mechanisms.

Venting may or may not be the right choice for what you’re currently trying to work through. If it’s not, there are other ways to manage your emotions and get back into balance.

1. Listen to some music or watch something that will improve your mood.

The idea is not to avoid the problem but to counter whatever negative feelings you may be experiencing so you are not biased toward the negative. For example, suppose you’re angry, upset, or sad. In that case, your brain will negatively color your experiences, even if they aren’t negative. So try to get out of that negative emotional space before you really dive into the problem.

2. Get out and get some exercise and sunshine.

Exercise and sunshine both provide massive benefits for improving your mental health. Physical activity causes your brain and body to produce endorphins and other chemicals that can help get your mind into a better state. This will also provide some distraction from the problem and give you a chance to cool off before you go back to it.

3. Don’t feed the negativity.

It’s tempting to dive into the negativity and wallow in it. Don’t post about your problems on social media unless you share with a group that can help you. Don’t dive into more topics about the thing to just make yourself more angry or upset.

The internet can be a pretty toxic place for many things and often presents a slanted bias. People who are happy and doing well with their lives aren’t typically sitting around on the internet talking about how awesome their life is. No, they are out there actually living their life. So all you’re actually getting is an unbalanced negative perspective on the thing. That will just make things worse.

And you can also end up with people sticking their nose in your business where it just doesn’t belong. They may not know the situation well, but they sure as hell will have an opinion about it.

4. Listen to your own intuition.

Intuition is a powerful thing. It can help guide you to solutions if you are willing to honor and listen. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t. They ignore their intuition because they don’t want to deal with a reality that may be staring them in the face. You may already know the solution to the problem that you’re facing if you just listened to that little thing telling you, “Something’s wrong.” or “You shouldn’t do that.”

That being said, venting can also be a good way to find some balance or get a different perspective on a problem. If you need to vent, do reach out to the people who care about you.

And if you don’t have someone like that in your life right now, do consider talking to a therapist to help you get yourself back on track. Don’t underestimate the value in professional therapy.

The website BetterHelp.com is a good place to get the therapy you need at a time and place that is convenient to you. You can speak to a trained and experienced professional via phone or video from wherever you happen to be in the world.

Click here to learn more or to arrange your first session.

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