Thursday, August 16, 2007


I noticed an online article recently about venting to your friends. According to the article, it can be bad for you. It seems like it's something we all do. We get home from work after an awful day and we complain about it to our loved ones. They (hopefully) feel some compassion for us and express their agreement with our gripes, and we feel better about it all. We also feel vindicated about our attitudes. We feel like we're right, and usually the people we vent to don't often argue with us or set us on a straighter course. They nod politely, knowing we need to get it off our chests.

According to this article, though, the idea of getting something "off our chests" doesn't necessarily describe what happens. To get something off our chests means we want to let it go, we want to forget about it and move one. We want to let out all our frustration/anger/bitterness/angst, so that we can just be free of it. But experts, according to the article, are saying that that's not what happens. We don't let go of it. We reinforce it. By venting to our friends, we give validity to our feelings, and unless that venting leads to some sort of conclusive mending, we're not getting ourselves anywhere, except into a cycle of negative attitudes and emotions, which we in turn feel are justified.

Anyway, I do not plan to stop telling my particular loved one (I love you, Cas) how I'm doing, but I am resolving for the next couple of weeks to perform a little experiment. What if, instead of venting to people, I just kept my frustrations and problems a secret? It's really just a commitment to stop complaining. And after two weeks, I'll see how I feel. Better or worse? I don't know if two weeks worth of psychological experimenting will show a conclusive and noticeable difference, but I plan to try it. And with Cassie gone for the weekend, that will make it a good time to start.

Here's why I say this is an experiment, though. Most people might look at this idea and say, well of course. You shouldn't be complaining all the time, or you're going to become a more negative person. The only thing with me is that I've had many instances, even in the last year, where I've talked to someone, usually Cassie, about my difficulties, and talking about it forces me to come to a positive resolution and I benefit from that. But I suppose there is probably a difference between venting and confiding, so I'll have to find what that difference is and act accordingly.

The other thing I want to add to this experiment, since I'm not convinced that merely being quiet about things will be entirely helpful, namely because I am a fairly quiet guy in general, is to commit myself to always finding a proverbial "silver lining" for all my problems. Every time I feel upset about anything, instead of ranting about it, I will look on the bright side.

To me these seem like obvious life choices that should have been taken care of and made into habit years ago, but what can I say? I'm not perfect yet. That doesn't mean I can't try. We'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

Ulee 0802 said...

I think a lot depends on who you vent to and how comfortable they are with challenging you. I know that when I vent about the things I vent about - professional sports and dog owners in particular - I don't get any sympathy or affirmation. They just roll their eyes and think, "There he goes again." Even so, I still know I'm right. :-)