Isnin, Mei 31, 2004

“ the punching bag … ”

Lets face it, most of us like to vent --- at least once in a while. It just feels good to certain things off your chest. And while venting is something that neither of us advocates as a technique or as a way to relax, we have to admit that on occasion … we do it too. For whatever reason, when you’re frustrated; it sometimes feels good to share that frustration with someone you love. And even if it doesn’t feel good, sometimes you just can’t seem to help it.

There’s an enormous different between an occasional venting session where you’re letting off steam versus making venting an ‘integral’ part of your regular communication. We’ve observed that in relationships where one person is a regular ‘venter’ --- the other person often reports feeling like a punching bag!

One of the problems with venting is that there’s an endless supply of material to vent over. In other words, there will always be things to be upset about if you focus is in that direction. Therefore, if you associate ‘feeling better’ with letting off steam while talking to your partner, it’s addictive and easy for it to become a habit. Naturally, your assumption would be that more is better.

It’s easy to see why a participant on the listening end of a venting session might begin; especially over time … to feel like a punching bag.

Imagine for a moment, that you’re a little tired at the end of the day. You’re feeling relatively peaceful and as if life is treating you well. As you pick up a book or magazine to read for a few minutes before dozing off, your partner calls and begins to complain about his day. You love your partner and certainly want to be supportive. You put down your book and begin to listen. During the next 10 minutes, your mood undergoes a big shift. You’ve been told of many horrible things, reminded of the ills of the world and of how unfair and hard life can be. The arguments are so convincing you’re starting to believe it yourself. Argghh!! It starts again. They go on telling you some negative gossips and several examples of greed. At this moment, it seems that your partner; bless their heart … hates their life. They told you of people who have wronged them and the others they’re mad at.

In this example, the ‘venter’ was probably just in a really low mood and feeling sorry for themselves. In all likelihood, they will see things differently tomorrow. And certainly, if the listener knew this based on their previous knowledge of their partner, they probably wouldn’t worry about it too much. They could simply listen and be as supportive as possible.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to always have the perspective needed not to be brought down by the venting of someone else; especially when it’s excessive. So, even though some venting is probably inevitable … there is a bit of selfishness involved as well. In other words, when we vent, someone else may be paying the price. So perhaps the best thing to dos is simply be aware of how much venting is ‘OK’ and how much is too much. ;)

Again, we’re not saying it’s never a good idea to vent, especially in small doses. However, it’s a good idea to keep it under control. Doing so will keep your partner from feeling like a punching bag.

Thank you.


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