Does Venting Your Feelings Actually Help?
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Science suggests that while venting your emotions feel good in the moment, it might make matters worse in the long run.
Sharing our emotions reduces our stress and make us feel closer to others. When we open up, and people respond with sympathy, we feel understood and supported. But, expressing our emotions often to others may make us feel worse if we fail to gain some perspective and don't take steps to soothe ourselves.
We vent our feelings to connect with other people who can help validate what we're going through. It feels good to know you have someone to rely on who takes the time to listen.
Sharing our feelings also help us to clarify and gain insight into what's causing our complicated feelings. Our confidants can also provide new perspectives and offer sound advice. But if we only vent, we won't address our cognitive needs too. We need to make meaning of what we're experiencing.
For many years, psychologists believed that dark emotions needed to be released physically, like hitting a soft object, like pillows or punching bags.
While supportive friends and family may care enough to listen and sympathize with us, there's often a limit to how much listeners can actually hear. It can be frustrating to listen to someone wallowing in emotion without learning from their experience. The listener may also "catch" these emotions themselves.
An artful listener will use empathy or sympathy and wait for the right moment before offering perspective.
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