Venting. It’s controversial in its effect on our happiness, and our friendships. Some say letting out steam and going on a rant about some terrible awful only fuels anger. Some studies have even found that whatever you say about another person, people attribute to you. So if I’m complaining that my boss is insecure or my third cousin is selfish, my friend on the receiving end of the vent will, subconsciously, begin to think that I’m insecure and selfish.
That’s no good.
Usually I think no-venting is better than venting, definitely. That doesn’t mean I’m especially good at following my own advice, of course. I’m a talker, and I have a really hard time processing thoughts without speaking them aloud. Even if all that does, more often than not, is get me more worked up or poison the person I’m speaking to against whoever I’m venting about.
So, yeah. Venting is, in theory, unproductive. But let me tell you. Last night I needed it.
I was in an angry tizzy when I got a funny text from one of my closest friends in the world. It was a hilarious reference to a Facebook photo. Just the thing to put a smile on my face, and it came at the perfect time. As soon as I saw it I thought, “Yes! This is exactly who I need to talk to.” So I rang up my bestie in San Francisco, and, great friend that she is, she let me go off. She listened, commiserated, told me I was in the right (just what I needed to hear) and that I had every reason to be mad, and then changed the subject enough to distract me and calm me down. She was, in that moment, exactly who I needed. By the time I hung up, I was calmer. I’d let all my anger out and had nothing more to say. So I did the most productive thing I could think of. I got in bed with a book, and went to sleep. So much more pleasant than staying up and stewing, which probably would have happened had my pal not come to my rescue.
I still say less is more when it comes to venting. If your whole life is spent complaining about this horrible thing or that person who wronged you, it’ll just turn you into a sourpuss. Your friends will avoid you because you’ve become such a downer. But if you can save your venting for the times you really need a friend’s ear, well then, I hate to even write these cheesy words, but that’s what friends are for.
Sometimes, you don’t need a local BFF. A faraway pal will work just fine. And someone who’s known you since you were 18, and knows how to calm you down, is a keeper.
Are you a venter? Or do you avoid it at all costs? Is the ability to hear you out and calm you down one of the things that makes someone your BFF?