“Venting: ”to give free expression to (a strong emotion).”
The good old days
I remember quite some time ago what social media (SM) looked like. Smiley faces, happy families, fun times, beautiful nature photos, and positive thinking memes filled every page. Someone once told me that it was deceiving. Just like airbrushed models who look perfect, SM was a phony airbrushed snapshot of most people’s lives. It fooled us into thinking that if we were not as happy as everyone else was, there was something wrong with us.
There is a belief that if we are not happy and positive all the time, that we are attracting negativity to ourselves. I do believe there is a truth to that, to a degree. It is sports psychology. It is important to me to look at the positive side, to see the good in people, to do things that change my mood if I am down. Listen to music, watch a lighter movie, dance, focus on work, read, play, laugh, love, sing.
It seems that in the last year or so SM has become VERY REAL. People are angry, hurt, sad, fearful, and venting. A lot. I dare say this is necessary.
Having spent many years not feeling safe to speak up, I know from experience the damage that can do to someone. To think that you have to be happy all the time, or something is wrong with you; that if you are sad even for a moment, you are broken, wrong, or weak, is not good. It is like shaking up a bottle of soda and not letting the pressure out. When opened, it will explode. I know how that feels, and I would explode when the pressure got incredibly intense. Usually once a year! Some criticized me for being “too happy” or for being sad. I was called a doormat, a tree hugger, etc. When I began to express my anger, I was called hypocritical because I talked about spreading love instead of hate. How dare I express my anger AND talk about spreading love? Is righteous anger hateful?
Anger is not hate
We all have these emotions. Emotions are only problematic when they HURT someone. Anger is an emotion just like the others. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel it, to embrace it, to vent it, we will explode, and it is not pretty.
I do not promote anger as any violent expression if it is hurtful or damaging to another person or people. I have experienced that too, and I am not suggesting abuse is OK … that is for another discussion.
Suppressing emotion can cause illness, just like stress. It takes more energy to suppress it than to release it, and over time can take its toll. We can get stuck in a merry go round of addiction, depression, alcoholism, or food disorders.
It is possible to vent, embrace anger, and still be kind and considerate to others. But we have not done this, and we are exploding all over social media and out in public. Although it is painful and sometimes downright dangerous, I understand why that is happening. As humans, we often are not allowed or taught how to embrace or release anger, pain, and sadness, or even feel it is OK. We have no idea what the heck to do with all of this pent up emotion. Add to that the unveiling of our world in crisis, injustice, disease, fear, and the realization (finally) that maybe the “good old days” were actually a façade. Maybe we have not really been OK. Maybe this has all been brewing under the surface, and we have been ignoring it, brushing it under the carpet, smiling away the pain, and medicating ourselves in a display of happy photos.
Releasing emotions safely
I began to learn a long time ago, from a group called Re-evaluation Counseling, about venting ALL of our emotions (including ANGER) in a safe, APPROPRIATE place. By doing so, we can emerge more confident, calm, peaceful, and can get back to being our true selves with all of our faults and imperfections and find real and lasting peace. We can think clearer. We can find our compassion again. I have experienced the peace and calm that follows a good venting session when someone is fully listening to us without judgment. Is it easy? No. Is it comfortable? Hell no. At first, it felt like broken glass coming out of my mouth. But it is worth it. Because without feeling the so-called negative emotions, we cannot truly feel love, joy, peace, and calm. We also may not truly feel compassion or listen to others who do not agree with our views.
How do you vent anger safely? First and most important, NEVER vent to a person about that person. Find someone neutral to vent with who can listen. Second, physical anger should be expressed through work with safe objects and with physical exercise. NEVER vent to a person who can be intimidated or hurt. You may have seen it and laughed about it; hitting and screaming into pillows. Yes, that is one way. I have hit boxes with a baseball bat, screamed underwater, worked with resistance bands, used Qigong, and best of all, I work with a professional who understands anger/emotional work and how to release it safely.
Times change and so do we
I am in a new and wonderful relationship with a man who encourages me to speak my mind. I am still uncomfortable with that. In beginning to speak up, I told him, please be aware it may come out weird and awkward, and you may get angry with me. It did and still is coming out awkward at times, because it is learning something new, which will cause a lot of mistakes. I am so grateful to friends and family who have encouraged me to express myself without judging me. As I go along, I get more confident, and it is coming out a little less awkward each time. Believe it or not, as challenging as our times are right now, I feel happier than I ever have before. But I am not done. It is a process, and I am (and will continue to) speak up. I have a lot of anger about what is happening in the world. I am finding my safe spaces to vent, and it is a good thing.
So, find a safe place to vent without hurting anyone. Speak up. Get angry. Righteous anger is not hatred. Fight for what is right. Use your voice for good. Cry. Feel. Laugh. Safely, embrace your emotions so you can find balance, peace, and joy. It is human, not weak. If you do not feel relief, a professional can help. If it comes out awkward and someone is offended, there is a lovely phrase – “I’m sorry.” There is peace on the other side.
“I’m not a perfect person, there’s many things I wish I didn’t do. But I continue learning.” The Reason by Hoobastank
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