As a culture, we value gratitude. As adults, we value perseverance. As people, we value staying strong.
So naturally, the idea of venting to others, “spilling your guts,” letting out everything you feel, complaining, and breaking down contradicts our core ideas about what strength is.
The fact that we view expressing emotion as weakness could be further from the truth, though. As someone who runs a self-worth group and has been part of supportive communities since I was 15, I know for certain that it takes a special strength to vent.
One of the hardest things to do is open up to people who don’t know what you’re going through. Showing the side of you that you’re embarrassed of, the side you despise, the side that once you reveal, you can never take it back takes a tremendous amount of strength.
That’s what I remind to the people who tell me about their struggles but insist that they aren’t strong. I constantly tell them that they’re wrong about themselves, not because I know them better than they do, but because I know the strength it takes to tell somebody what’s really going on in your head. The fact that they shared their feelings proves they’re tougher than most.
Holding everything in is unhealthy, toxic, and irresponsible. Can you keep some things secret? Sure, but there always comes a boiling point when you count your misfortunes and weigh them in your heart. Before you realize it, each day, you find fewer and fewer reasons to love life… until you explode.
The empty state of mind, the clear slate, the realization that your problems were as many as you thought they were are the small victories that you experience when you vent. Venting to a friend, a stranger, a group, or to yourself is a healing process of its very own.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t necessarily vent all the time to whomever. Like anything else, you should express your negative emotions in moderation. You don’t want to pile up your anger or burden others, either, but the fear that you will is often what will drive you to never vent at all which is equally as bad as venting too much. If you share a level of trust and assurance with a partner, a counselor, or anyone, and if you speak to them clearly about what you’re going through at the proper time and place, then sharing pays dividends down the line.
Even venting to yourself is a form of therapeutic self-healing. Sometimes, I find myself either meditating, standing face-to-face with my reflection, or staring at a pool of water, gazing at nothing in particular. I either quietly let out all my distress, or repeat my woes loudly to myself and let the grief in me pour out from my grief jar.
When it’s appropriate – usually over text messages, calls, or in-person in a comfortable environment – don’t be afraid to let off some stream. If you wait too long, you might implode later.
And as always, if you need somebody to talk to, I’m around as well.