Everyone has those days, or those moments when things reach a boiling point and you just have to let off some steam. Here’s a few helpful tips on how to vent without regretting it later.
Write it down
Yep, go old school. The painstaking process of finding paper and pen, writing down your grievances, and putting your thoughts into something tangible often involves enough effort and time to help you think more rationally. I’m not saying you need to follow the old advice of writing a letter and not sending it (though there’s nothing wrong with doing that). I’m simply recommending you take the time involved with actually writing something down. Force yourself to use complete sentences and paragraphs. And don’t forget proper punctuation. I’m not interested in twitter style messages or posts. Write down in detail the situation, the way it unfolded, how it impacted you, and how you feel about it. Doing this helps you in several ways.
First, you will feel as though you are actually doing something about the stress. You’re taking action. The human brain thrives on problem-solving and the simple act of writing down a stressful situation gives you the feeling of problem solving.
Second, you will force yourself to think through the entire situation. Start to finish. You’ll have a good working knowledge of the details of the situation and you’ll remove any ambiguity. Often stress and frustration can come from the feeling of the unknown. The feeling of uncertainty will translate into stress or anger and you react to the emotion rather than reacting to the unknown information.
Third, you will find writing things down takes time. Twitter and other social outlets provide instant responses and short (sometimes thoughtless) replies which are more of a knee-jerk reaction then they are a true response to a situation. By writing things down you’ll find time to think through the emotions and formulate a fuller response.
Tell A Friend
So the second way to vent without regretting it later is to find a trusted friend you can talk to. This one is a bit scarier as it involves trusting someone. You’ll notice I say a “trusted friend”. This needs to be someone you know you can trust with your deepest darkest secrets. The type of person you know would never betray your trust, under the threat of death. Remember you are sharing your anger and frustrations with them knowing they will not share it with others.
You’re not seeking out someone you can vent to in hopes they will take up your cause and fight your battle. You will be best served if your friend knows little to nothing about the people or situation involved. You’re not looking for reassurance and someone encouraging you to “let them have it”. No recording. And your friend should keep you accountable. You’re only allowed to vent on this particular instance this one time. No coming back for seconds.
Go running, biking, walking, anything that forces you to get outside and get your heart rate increased. The physical exertion will help your mind and your body to focus on something other than the problem. You’ll be expending your energy (and getting in shape at the same time). It’s important to not sit and stew on a problem. Letting the anger and frustration grow inside you will only eat away at you until you snap. If you force yourself to walk away from the situation and the pressure you will be able to distance yourself from the problem.
Running and other physical activities cause your body to stop thinking about mental challenges and focus blood supply and energy to your extremities and fueling your muscles. Plus it will only help you stay in better physical condition.
The next time you’re feeling angry and like you’re about to explode try one of the above ideas. See if it helps you control your emotions and put things in proper perspective. I am not saying righteous indignation is wrong. And there is certainly a time and place for sharing your thoughts. I just encourage you to not do it in the heat of the moment. And with that I’ll leave you with a quote from Warren Buffet.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”