I know the pleasures of ranting. “Venting anger”, as it is called. It does feel good to throw around sarcastic comments on life, universe and everything – or more specifically on that guy who just pinched “your” parking space, the woman who placed her bike in the middle of the sidewalk, or the teenagers that almost bumped into you because they were playing with their smartphones. So you transfer your anger into some smart, nasty comment that clearly shows the contempt of a superior being towards those stupid people in your way. Or you just get plain angry and get the load off your chest.
Yes. Feels good, in at twisted way, and does not hurt anyone, right? The people you are ranting about do not hear it, anger gone, no harm done?
Maybe. But – recently I started to ask myself: does it really make me feel good? I read an article about some recent studies this summer, stating that ranting in fact “maintain[s] a person’s attention on angry thoughts, rather than dissipating the anger. Venting and ranting effectively keep angry feelings in memory and increase rumination about the offending event.” (full article: The Myth of Catharsis: Why Ranting and Venting are Terrible Ways to Handle Anger) And that would be exactly the opposite of the desired effect. Not good.
It made me think. My love has had his doubts about my venting techniques for quite some time. He does listen sympathetically, but also points out that maybe I would feel better if concentrated on the good stuff, instead of mentally rolling around in the bad. For example I could try to feel happy that I did find another parking space in the end.
Oh yeah, I used to think. There are times when you definitely don’t want to hear good advice like this. But, as I said, the article made me think. And, to be honest, while trying to teach my son to not work himself up on small things, I somehow got the feeling I was the wrong person to preach.
I realised that my ranting had become some sort of habit, a not so nice one. And it wasn’t a very good example for my kids either.
So. I decided to rant less. I choose to try to see things more relaxed, take it easy. (And, when choosing to do so myself, it felt much easier than when I heard it as advice from someone else.) I does not always work, but I think my stress levels are actually decreasing. I do try to look at the positive side or, if finding one is ridiculously hard, I try to concentrate on something else completely. Just let it go. Not play the game. Step out of it.
Although, to be honest, sometimes I allow myself a bit of a relapse. No one is perfect. – And maybe it is like it is with sweets. Too much of them is definitely not good for you, but a bite of chocolate now and then does no harm.
Doesn’t it? 😉