Response: Venting is Bad for You

A friend posted this article entitled “Venting is Bad for You (and Others)”.

The gist of the article is that you should never speak openly about things that are hurtful, frustrating, or unjust.

Wait, what?

Yep. Did I mention that was God’s will, as well?

Direct quote time:

“God’s standard was that venting be non-existent” (“Venting is Bad for You”, Gosselin).

That incredible piece of rhetoric is based on Philipians 2:14-15, which reads

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”

Please note, that the KJV version, which is an earlier translation, properly reads:

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world”

Even without the severe differences in translation, the intent of both of these verses is clear: don’t bitch about your responsibilities. Don’t protest that it’s “not your job” when asked to do something. Set an example in what you do, and how you carry yourself.

Not once in either of those statements do I see “never speak aloud about anything bad that happens to you except to Me”.

This is strengthened given the context of the verses. Philippians 2 is all about humbling yourself, being more Christ-like, and taking care of your soul and well-being through love and compassion.

Keeping all negativity inside and not expressing yourself is in direct opposition to all of those things.

The author of this article cites science! as confirmation that venting is bad for you.

However, when you link to the science! article that supposedly backs up her theory, you will see that the science! does not address venting at all. The subject of the article is complaining.

Here are the definition of the two words according to Merriam Webster:

Complain: to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something

Vent: to give free expression to (a strong emotion)

Venting has nothing to do with negativity, which is what is actually bad for you. Venting is about expressing yourself freely, sharing your emotions, your passions, and sometimes your problems.

It isn’t droning on about how your life is terrible and your boss sucks. It isn’t shouting at your husband for no apparent reason (as the photo atop of Ms. Gosselin’s article suggests).

It is communication – open and free communication. In other words, healthy communication.

The article and research linked to actually addresses effective communication as a responsible alternative. I don’t see that mentioned in Ms. Gosselin’s article.

I agree 100% that negativity and complaining (otherwise known as whining, whinging, grinching, bellyaching, etc) is bad for you and the people around you.

However, I think that venting (aka talking, communicating, sharing, being intimate, etc) is very healthy, and can help prevent long-term problems.

Imagine you’re in a relationship, and they are saying or doing things that hurt you on a consistent basis? According to Ms. Gosselin’s theology, you would be in direct opposition to God were to you calmly say “Hey, you’ve been saying some things that have been upsetting me. Can we talk about it?”

Better to just tell God that your SO is hurting your feelings, and never give the poor sap boyfriend the chance to know he’s hurting you.

That will be great to discuss in two years time when you’ve finally had enough of it.

No. That is not how adults handle negative emotion. And it’s certainly not how God wants us to handle  negative emotion.

Does He want us to yell and scream and shout about it? No. Does he want us to live emotionally healthy and mature? Absolutely.

The thing about negativity is that it doesn’t just “go away”. Sooner or later, it gets out.

We can either choose to let it out in a healthy fashion, or keep it pent up, slowly poisoning ourselves and our relationships, to keep from “stinking up the room with our negativity”.



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