The goal of venting is to unburden the heart and mind of stress surrounding current troubles. Although a particular problem may be an ongoing situation in one’s life, the venting of overwhelming and at times debilitating emotions that accompany struggling with the problem can often help in clearing one’s thoughts and help restore a sense of balance. A good listening ear is a blessing to a person in need of venting but when venting turns into chronic complaining it can certainly boomerang and send those blessings running for the hills!
Everyone needs to vent from time to time, especially when dealing with a life crisis or something as simple as an annoying problem that won’t go away. Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of give and take; both sides of the relationship share the role of listening and venting as needed. A relationship can be hurt, however, when the venting turns into complaining. Let’s explore the difference between the two:
Venting is necessary to expel and remove toxic emotions that can be an obstacle to a person’s clarity and their ability to effectively make sound decisions. Frustration, anger, disappointment, fear and sadness are all emotions that people commonly experience when struggling and dealing with a problematic life situation. It is necessary to get past this toxic mindset and the best way to do that is to vent.
On the other hand, when a person chooses to focus on the problem, rather than the stressful emotions that they are feeling, chronic complaining is inevitable. More often than not, complaining about a problem is due to the fact that the complainer is feeling powerless to either change the situation, to make it better or to make it go away. What they are struggling with is a lack of acceptance regarding another person, relationship or situation. Unless they refocus on what they are feeling and let go of what they can’t change, the complaining will continue and those around them will get sick and tired of hearing it.
There’s a reason why mental health professionals have a clock within their field of vision—“I’m sorry, our time is up” is a much-needed oasis after forty-five minutes of their client’s complaining. Imagine how friends and family of the chronic complainer must feel? They don’t get to bill the complainer’s insurance nor do they have the luxury of cutting them off without confrontational consequences.
Being a good listener is an asset to any relationship and venting comes with the territory. Just remember to remain focused on the negative emotions so they can be talked out and expunged. Everybody has problems and adding damaged relationships from headache-inducing complaining needn’t be added to your list.