Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Venting and Gas

First off, how long do you think it will be before photos like this stop being alarming and start making us nostalgic?

Now on to the real subject: venting. I hear many people say "I just needed to vent" after complaining about something. The concept of venting is not foreign to me, but I have discovered its application to be an unhealthy thing, for me anyway. Allow me to explain.

The concept of "venting" is that by talking about something you can feel less annoyed or frustrated by it. In essence you have built up too high a pressure in the holding tank and are venting steam (which I would assume the etymology of this term, although I am too lazy to find out for sure) to lower the pressure. This seems fine if you are a steam boiler. For me, venting has a very different result. It conditions me to be unhappy.

Allow me to psych101 you for a moment. We all have neuron pathways in our brain that become more easily accessed as we practice something. If you practice guitar, your brain gets better at moving your hands around in the correct manner. If you type your computer password every day for several years you begin to type it without even thinking about it. I think venting works the same way. My theory is that if you learn to repeatedly vocalize your complaints you train your mind to run down those same pathways; you condition yourself to dwell on what makes you unhappy. I suppose if you could condition yourself to actually stop being unhappy after venting then you could make it work. My experience is that most people who vent continue to be unhappy about it afterwards, and are really just looking for someone to agree with the fact that they have a reason to be upset.

I approach this very differently as I approach 40 than I did when I was approaching 30. I'm not exactly the poster child for unflappable. In fact, Stef and I joke that only two things I don't like are "doing something" or "going somewhere" which pretty much sums up anything that can ever happen. There are plenty of things that cause me anxiety or unhappiness. What I have found does not help is talking over and over about what is bothering me. The much quoted Ephesians 4:26 says "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (ASV translation.) Okay, the first part is pretty simple. If you are angry, don't sin. (Keep it together, man!) I've heard the second part used over and over to encourage people to resolve their issues, to talk through things or what not. I think there's a false assumption there. Some issues can't just be talked through. Some have to be let go. Personally, I try to examine the things that are making me upset and decide whether these are things that can really be fixed by talking. Often, they aren't. If that's the case, you can still not let the sun go down upon your wrath. All you have to do is decide not to have wrath. Poof. Let it go. And it's not like I'm some super inner-peace guy either. pfft. Not even close. I'm just some slob with an opinion, and blogger is kind enough to save it in their database for your reading pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Sir, in the future, I will strive to have less wrath.



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