Venting – letting off steam about a situation that’s making you boil from the inside. It may be impossible to take the kettle off the hob, it has to remain there a little longer, so your only option is to open up the steam vent to prevent an explosion from all those emotions churning away inside, the viscous liquid simmering with unexpressed feelings.
When those feelings are so ‘hubble bubble toil and trouble’ it’s best to do the venting by yourself. We’ve all encountered that person who lets off their steam by dumping their invective on us, ranting with irritation barely pausing for breath, never giving you the slightest opening to jump in and let alone steer the conversation elsewhere, even make the appropriate clucking sounds. Talking at us about their frustrations, while we get increasingly tired and negative ourselves. The shoe has been on the other foot too. I haven’t only been at the receiving end. Many a time and oft I have talked my friends’ ears off with my gargantuan rage and annoyance, wondering later why they’ve disappeared into the wild blue yonder, reluctant to take my calls, which I make to them for the purpose of continuing venting.
Not only did they cease to spend time with me – which was ambiguous and could be interpreted positively and put down to their having lives of their own, what was worse was when someone presented to me the other person’s point of view, the one who had triggered me. It invariably ended in a fight where I found myself at loggerheads
with someone who meant a lot to me (apart from an ear that listened). I learned to tone down my venting and read the other person’s signals – hippopotamus yawns and frequent rushes to the bathroom. What could they possibly mean?
After feeling rejected by various friends who (rightly so) always seemed to have something else to do I returned to my old habit of writing things down. Keeping a journal, just for myself and my process.
In the process of venting on paper, it became less interesting to write ’and then he/she/it did this… and can you believe the cheek of…’ and I slowly moved to writing down, additionally, possible reasons for the person’s behaviour, and what I could do to change my own behaviour. The same advice from a friend would have been glossed over with a peremptory shake of the head. Now that I’d come to the conclusion through my own (superior) brain I was happy to listen to my own advice. I found out how to take the kettle off the fire instead of simply opening up the steam vent and scalding all my listeners.
Here is a scholarly article on what you can do to vent and why writing things down is better than talking about them.
The healing power of expressing emotions