Are you done with your venting? Apparently not. Hundreds of readers unloaded their thoughts in response to a recent MSNBC.com article on how excessive rehashing is not only unhelpful, but can make complainers feel even worse.
"In the past I vented about problems and wound up feeling like everything was spun way out of control," agrees Rob from Ontario, Canada. "I got depressed and full of unwanted anxieties almost always."
But others are still convinced that a bitch session with a good friend is invaluable: "Sometimes, venting is the only thing that keeps me hanging on for hope," explains Andy from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. "I feel as though I am getting rid of some horrible disease trapped inside myself. [Venting] feels like the only solution sometimes. I am a venter. And I am proud of it!"
And then there are the unexpected consequences that go beyond feeling worse after venting. "I have actually lost friends as a result of venting so much," says Emily from Dallas. "Now I try to write more in my journal, by putting the words on a page I am still getting the emotions out, but not putting it all on a friend."
Read on for more views on airing out grievances.
Vent? Me? I'm more like a high-powered fan. I don't let things ease out — I blow 100 mph winds at whoever stops long enough to listen. I'll try my best not to "gossip" and be polite about whoever it is I have an issue with. ... Communication is one of my greatest strengths AND weaknesses. I'm very good about talking about my feelings, but I also hate confronting others about issues I may have with them. ... Thus far, I've gotten in the habit of venting using a digital recorder. One of the settings only records for 12 minutes, so I use the time to vent. Then I play it back, and as I listen, I realize how I sound to everyone else — talk about a reality check! Not only that, but it also gives me time to calm down and think about things rationally.
— Kat, Seattle
People need to vent about their problems in order to release the psychological and emotional trauma that individuals can face when dealing with issues. If we don't talk about our problems then they stay in our head. ... Everyone should have someone to vent their frustrations and concerns to.
— Dave, Manchester, Conn.
Frequent venting has been detrimental in my past social life. A calm discussion with the person you have the problem with is the quickest way to resolve it, but it can require courage and strict self-control. It seems that the less we complain about it, the quicker we can all move on to other things. Everyone needs to vent a little sometimes, but strict moderation helps to prevent permanent damage to your social life ... and it's nice to have some feelings you just keep to yourself.
— Elizabeth, Md.
I try to discuss my concerns or problems with more than one person. I listen to their suggestions and advice and try to incorporate it into an overall plan. ... Although, there are always situations which are too personal or complex to tell others and that is when one has to draw on conventional wisdom and inner strength. I always find that prayer is a great way to deal with problems. When we are trying to ask for help from the spiritual realm, we are often more honest with ourselves and likewise, we might come up with more peaceful ways to resolve conflicts and issues.
Venting seems like a temporary fix. It helps at first, but then later you still hurt. Keep a journal to write down all your frustrations. In some situations, get professional help. After all, that's what they are there for.
— Rachel, Kirkland, Wash.
I find that talking to a friend about your troubles (especially about relationships) helps a great deal. Actually it can take the place of a psychiatrist or psychologist, most of whom do nothing more than listen and then say, "What do you think you should do." If not excessive, and coupled with interest and concern about your friend's problems as well, it is a good way to actually solidify your feelings about a person, and confirm the reality of the situation, rather than continuing with wishful thinking, or an idealized image of a person, or relationship, that has harmed or is toxic to you. It helps to reiterate what really is going on and makes your resolve to move on to something better stronger.
— Carol, Columbus, Ohio
Venting is wasted energy. Be mature and approach the problem and a have a plan to put it to rest. Some women must just love the attention it brings them, negative or not.
— Brendan, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
I can honestly and truthfully say that sometimes, spilling my guts to my best girlfriend can be the most exhilarating feeling! The one thing I have learned over the past few years is that girls tend to analyze every little detail. Lets face it, ladies, men can be pigs sometimes and make you go a little nuts and psychoanalytic, and in the end it's nice to have a close friend that will just sit there and listen, then give advice when asked for. Its feels almost as if a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders once I have finished venting, and I normally seem to feel much better.
— Sarah, Toronto
For me, venting has always been a way to get closer with my friends. It gives me something to talk about, it gives them something to relate with. It doesn't exactly help the situation or make me feel better, but I gain some level of respect with them.
I have rules that I learned from Rhonda Britten, founder of the Fearless Living Institute. I ask permission to vent. I set a time limit, i.e. 5 minutes. My venting partner does not interrupt me. When I stop, my VP ask if I am finished. Then they ask what am I committed to do to resolve the problem.
— Michelle, Dayton, Ohio
I don't vent a lot and I don't like to be on the listening end of someone who is. It's okay to talk over problems with friends if you are seeking a fresh viewpoint, but to just complain for the sake of it, no one cares and it's a downer. I talk over serious issues with my therapist.
— Anne, Brooklyn, N.Y.
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If venting is accompanied by action, then it is good. Otherwise you are a loser: get a grip, get a life, get out of mine.
— Jain, Venice, Calif.
I think we need to remember that venting and bitching are different. Talking about things is good, but choose who you talk to. If the purpose of venting is to get some unresolved issue off your chest, then choose the person who has the best chance at giving you wholesome advice, not the first person that comes along. We should also remember that we tend not to think clearly when angry and sometimes we use "bitching" as a poor outlet for a larger problem.
— J.B.,Portland, Ore.
Whenever I'm faced with a tough problem, I immediately start running a bath with bath salts, oils, bubble bath, etc. Then I turn out all the lights and light candles all around the tub. I lay back and close my eyes and think things through. Being in the tub calms and relaxes me and always helps me come to a logical solution.
— Brie, Bel Air, Md.
I used to piss and moan about things an awful lot. Some good friends told me that it made them not want to be around me. I was a Donnie Downer. So I decided I'd choose to have a more positive or optimistic outlook. I found out that all of the pissing and moaning only fueled more bad feelings. Greater positivity gave birth to more positivity.
— Tim, San Diego
As a male, I have to say the virtue of a "stiff upper lip" seems to be completely lost on most women today. It's not just that men don't complain as much as women ... it's that we have built-in peer pressure ("quit bitching," "you're acting like a girl," etc.) to ensure the gap remains intact. This of course will seem bad to any female, but this type of social conditioning among males, in my opinion, is a positive phenomenon. At the end of the day, there's gotta be somebody willing to suck it up, zip their lip, and get things DONE.
— Gustavo, Portland, Ore.