From the morning traffic when someone cuts you off, to the tenth person who bumps into you at the store without even acknowledging your existence, nevermind apologising; there are many frustrations that we can come across during our daily lives. These frustrations build up leaving us feeling more and more angry. This is when we vent.
Venting is good right? Venting can help you to clear your head, help you let go of what’s on your chest and get empathy from a sympathetic ear. Wrong.
In fact, venting can be incredibly bad for you. When you vent to someone and they agree with you, it actually reinforces your frustration. I’m sure we’ve all had those moments where we vent to friend, and when they agree with us, instead of calming down, we feel justified in going. “Gosh I am so mad at this!”. It makes us feel vindicated and leads to us venting again the next time something frustrates or angers us. Anger begets anger. The more we vent the more angry we get.
I am not one to judge anyone who gets angry. Some major work had to be done on my part to learn to control my temper, and it’s something I still struggle with and have to keep a tight rein on. I remember very clearly, the first time I got frustrated after I was saved, I hauled out my Bible and looked up scripture on anger and the first thing I found was Proverbs 29:11
“Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”
And then Ecclesiastes 7:9
“Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.”
Well, then I did feel rather foolish. I didn’t feel justified in my frustration, I just felt a bit silly, and it tempered my anger. Pun intended.
The biggest problem with anger is that there is always a price to pay for letting that anger out. Before you get angry – in friendships, in relationships, in business, in family – count the cost of that anger.
There are in fact ways to deal with anger or frustration that help you let off steam in a healthier way.
Manage your triggers
We all have triggers. These days people would probably call them “pet peeves” – those things that just set us off at the drop of a hat. One of mine is food. Which I find hilarious. I love food. I’d spend all day thinking about the food I wanted so if I got home and someone had eaten it or we got to a restaurant and they didn’t have it, I’d be really frustrated which then became anger. I learned to lower my expectations a bit, and actually just knowing it was a trigger for me helped me to manage my frustration to the point where it’s seldom a problem for me these days. What are your triggers?
We all have expectations. Sometimes we have expectations we don’t even know we have – these are usually the ones that get us into trouble. If someone bumps into you, you expect them to apologise because that would be the polite thing to do. Or you expect people to follow the rules of the road. Or you expect good service. Luckily expectations aren’t something we have to take on board, we can take them off of ourselves and leave them with the person in the wrong. “That person should have apologised but they didn’t; I would have but they aren’t me; I choose not to be angry”. This is something that takes a lot of practice. It’s not excusing bad manners or bad service or bad driving – it’s choosing not to let others’ behaviour and actions affect you.
Set a date with your anger
Instead of being angry now, tell yourself, “I’ll be angry later tonight” – once you’ve had a chance to calm down, cool off and think through your anger rationally. You probably won’t need to keep that date by then, but if you do, you’ll have a better handle on it and on how to deal with it in a less destructive way
Have a support system
Choose some people who you can talk to when you feel frustrated or angry. People who will support you and hear you out, but tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear
Write a journal
The best way to get something out is to write it. Just start with random words if that’s all you can manage and let it flow from there. Writing is sometimes the best way to clear your head and your emotions. Write down what your expectations were and how they weren’t met, write down what made you so frustrated and write down that you choose not to let frustration get the better of you. Write down how you can handle situations that frustrate you. Let it all go.