Earlier this year, I wrote a post about venting rarely being good for us.
A key line from that post, which I learned from Arthur Brooks, is anger has a honeyed tip and a poisoned root – meaning, sometimes it feels good to vent (the honeyed tip), but it almost never feels good after (the poisoned root).
Another saying I heard Brooks share is from the Buddha: Expressing anger is like picking up a hot coal and throwing it at another person. Who gets burned? The other person perhaps – but definitely you.
And here are two more ways to look at venting, which I read recently in an article called “Stop Venting! It Doesn’t Work.”:
- Venting anger is like using gasoline to put out a fire.
- Venting can be like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels like it works at first.
That article ends with suggestions for of things you can do when overwhelmed by negative emotion:
- Try “square breathing,” four breaths in and four breaths out, in order to take your body out of fight-or-flight mode.
- Make fists, pretending one holds a bouquet and the other a candle; breathe in the roses; and blow out the flame.
- When a modicum of calm descends, try to identify the root of your frustration by asking yourself: “Why am I so upset about this?” Ultimately, anger is like smoke. You have to get at what’s feeding the fire.
- After sitting with your emotions, move forward by problem-solving, scheduling a future time to discuss underlying issues, or using any number of other healthy coping mechanisms. Just stop counting venting among them.