Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Venting as Fuel for Personal Change and Growth
By Micky Wolf
Vent: To relieve oneself by vigorous or emotional expression;
frustration or anger
Mumbling, grumbling, yelling or complaining—just a few of the many ways we can let someone know how we’re feeling or what we’re thinking.
As a culture, we are reasonably understanding and accepting of these kinds of rants, unless the one venting is being mean-spirited or making it personal—hitting below the belt.
Good psychology (and spirituality) tell us a sincere, honest “vent” can be healthy. Yet as with most things, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Or, in this case, the ear. It’s what we don’t see—the hurt beneath the anger—that needs acknowledged and transformed.
The key? Allowing the vent to serve a positive purpose—motivate change within.
Change your perception of the process.
The vent in the photo allows the moisture and heat of drying clothes to move from the source to outside our home where it literally dissipates into thin air. Harmless. Would be a very different outcome if we tried to restrict or confine this process.
Venting, by nature, is all about relieving pressure. For you and I, that means learning how to allow that process, with all its intensity and negative energy—frustration and hurt—to flow into a space that will do no harm.
This doesn’t necessarily mean finding an empty room or vacant lot to express your frustrations, worries, or concerns. It does mean taking time to inform others you need to ‘release steam’ but desire to do so in a way that will not be destructive to them.
It is possible to be a gentle venter.
You read that right.
If you happen to be standing near the vent in the photo, you might be surprised to hear how subtle the action occurs. With little fanfare—or commotion—the fins lift with a soft whoosh. And as quietly, return to the closed position when the dryer load is finished.
It can be the same for you and me. Really.
Give yourself a moment to consider what it is and why you are about to vent. Then be mindful—and heart centered enough—to express what you need to say in a tone and with a demeanor that gives the other person the opportunity to acknowledge and hear you. Without feeling the need to run for the nearest bunker to seek shelter and safety.
When the venting is finished.
For the dryer, that means the clothes can be returned to the closet, or folded and put away in the drawer, ready for the next wearing.
For you and me? If our hope is to allow venting to serve as positive fuel for change and growth, we need to pay attention to what we can discover about ourselves or our circumstances after the outburst.
Maybe we are frustrated (hurt) because we are working too many hours. Lack of sleep will make the kindest (Christian) person a short-order crank. Take a serious look at cutting back on commitments to incorporate more down time for rest and relaxation.
Maybe we are frustrated (hurt) because we are spending our time and energy on people or things that occupy time but are not necessarily the will of God for our lives. It can be a real wake-up call the moment we admit we’re living our life to please others rather than the Divine.
Maybe we are frustrated (hurt) because we are weary of coping with chronic illness (in ourselves or a loved one) or are overwhelmed by the challenges and details of daily life. It takes a humble person to accept that we are beings with limitations. Or that the only real control we have is how we respond (rather than react) to the events of the day.
There’s no time like the present to open ourselves to the possibilities for personal change and growth.
If that means giving yourself the gift of a healthy vent, why not see it as one positive way to allow God to work all things to good? (Romans 8:28)
How do I feel about venting?
Are my experiences more negative than positive?
Am I open to allowing God to use venting for personal change and growth?