Cleansing, detoxifying diets, exercising… what else do we do to purify or clean our bodies? It is somewhat common to hear people say that they are engaged in one of these practices to clean themselves from toxins and other harmful elements. They usually express to feel more energized and thinking clearer after one of these periods. Our bodies naturally let go of toxicity when we exhale and when we go to the bathroom. My question is what do we do with the emotional toxins that negative emotions, stress and pain accumulate day after day? As a society I believe we have disregarded the importance of cleansing or detoxifying emotionally. It is importance to recognize that we have a need to do that as well; we have a need to vent.

Lori H. Gordon, Ph.D founder of PAIRS, a relationship enhancement recognized program, compares our emotional state to a jar. Everyday things happen that annoy us, upset us, frustrate us etc and those feelings get in the jar and start pushing the positive emotions down.

In order to experience positive feelings again and be able to connect with our love ones we need to get rid of the negative emotions that are on the jar often so they don’t become toxic since these emotions are after all part of life. So does it mean we can just go around pouring around our negative emotions so we can feel better? The answer is no. What happens many times is that it becomes a poor way to communicate and we damage our relationships. If you have ever been on the other end of someone venting, many aspects of the message are lost in translation as more attention is sometimes paid to that person’s behavior instead of the message, thereby negating the intent. Secondly, if done on any type of regular basis it masks the real problem, that being the inability to learn how to be assertive. Self Awareness and Emotional Control are both key ingredients of Emotional Intelligence and necessary for effective/non-aggressive communication skills.

There is nothing wrong with venting. It is actually a healthy habit but it all comes to the HOW and WHEN we do it. Here some tips for you to apply when you need to vent and for when you are the recipient of somebody else’s venting.

o Accept and express anger comfortably and nondestructively. First of all it is important to recognize that we all get angry. If you think you don’t, you must be repressing it and it will leak in other ways that will also damage your relationships.

o Express your needs without destroying love. Most of us like to share with our love ones our frustrations and bad moments. Be sure you don’t hurt the listener by aggressive physical movements, high tone of voice, or bad language. Remember to respect boundaries. You have the need to vent but the other person still has the need to be respected. It is not all about you.

o Learn to stay with your emotions. Venting in a healthy way helps to deal with them. As Miriam Greenspan states in her book Healing Through Dark Emotions, the so-called negative emotions have incredible transformation power. They are there for a reason and it takes skills to learn to listen to them and use them to our benefit.

o When you are on the other end of someone venting, effective/non-violent communication skills can still be of service. If the speaker says, "I need to vent", that's the cue that person most likely isn't looking for our feedback or a solution to an issue.

o In the cases when we aren't prepared for a venting episode, we can still ask ourselves (and possibly the speaker) "What is needed from me in this exchange?" If some feedback is implied in the course of the vent, we can respond to that. If not, we can simply let the vent run its course. In any case, keep in mind that the person is in an emotional state so do not take things personally or literally.

o In regards to the WHEN, again consider the other person’s needs and ask if this is a good time. Being sensitive to the place and time will guarantee that the exchange goes well and that both parts are comfortable.

o On a final note, if nobody is available for a venting session, remember that you can do it alone. Screaming on a pillow, journaling, talking to a mirror or even posting online are other options that can help in the meantime. Actually many people report feeling better just by using any of these methods. So there is no excuse for you to feel like a victim ok?

After all, in achieving wholeness and balance, having the ability to moderate between emotional control and "venting" is a necessary component of life.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Bilingual (English & Spanish) Mental Health counselor psychotherapist offering face-to-face services in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and online counseling worldwide. I work with individuals, couples, and groups from different backgrounds and situations, helping them not only to solve their problems but also to have more fulfilling lives.

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