The Truth About Venting (Shaunti Feldhan)

This blog is kind of on standby, it always seems to get that way when I’m pregnant ūüôā but I still like to post updates or fun posts just to have them here. ¬†Enjoying the pregnancy of our little girl, playing with my kids and doing life as well as writing, has kind of taken priority for now. ¬†Life is hard at times, but then again it is so beautiful!

This article on venting being BAD for you made a lot of sense to me in thinking about how we handle emotions or reactions to people who annoy or offend us.

I rarely complain about things to just anyone – there truly are just 2 people who hear my innermost thoughts and complaints in my life, and I like it that way! ¬†You’re supposed to complain and talk to God about problems anyway, but it’s nice to have one or two very very close friends to divulge in or ask advice from.

I’ve seen what can happen when a person lets their entire existence be taken over with complaining or venting. ¬†It’s very easy to do this with blogs since they can become like one’s personal diary of sorts – but it’s still not a good idea for a person’s mental and spiritual health/maturity. ¬†It stunts your spiritual growth and I even believe it can cause mental health problems for the person engaging in that kind of constant negativity or “venting.”

When someone gets upset or annoyed enough to run off to type out a blog post as soon as their little fingers can, that’s them “venting,”¬†and 99% of the time, it’s done in immaturity and not handling their emotions in the best way possible.

But until seeing this article below, I didn’t know for sure just how “bad” venting is – or rather, WHY it’s bad to do it! ¬†I knew it looked immature and ridiculous… not to mention so sad when people in their forties and fifties still do it, but wow!

Here it is, from Shaunti Feldhan ‚̧

“Your co-worker just made you so mad. Or maybe it was your husband who said something insensitive this morning. Or your teenager who rolled her eyes when you asked her to empty the dishwasher. Again.

You feel like a pot ready to explode, so you just need to let off a little steam. A few minutes of ‚Äúcan you believe he just said‚Ķ‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúshe‚Äôs so obnoxious when‚Ķ‚ÄĚ will make you feel so much better. Right? Right?

Wrong.

What is commonly viewed as ‚Äúletting off steam‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúventing‚ÄĚ is actually a myth. It can feel very satisfying, in the moment. But it ultimately changes us. And not in a good way. I‚Äôve seen this truth for years in my own research and in other studies. That‚Äôs why the first assignment in my newest book, The Kindness Challenge, is to say nothing negative about the person with whom you want a better relationship.¬† This includes saying something negative to them as well as about them to someone else.

I do quite a bit of work helping companies develop women‚Äôs leadership programs, and one high-level corporate client, Nadia, told me that she could trace her rise in corporate America to this one change.¬† Years ago, with a harsh boss, she would regularly gripe to a female co-worker.¬† But even though the co-worker was equally mistreated, she refused to join in.¬† Finally, she asked Nadia, ‚ÄúIf you complain, does it change anything?‚Ä̬† When Nadia admitted that it wouldn‚Äôt actually change anything, her colleague shook her head.¬† ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre wrong,‚ÄĚ she said.¬† ‚ÄúIt does change something.¬† It changes you.‚ÄĚ

Brain science researchers like Dr. Brad Bushman at Ohio State University have discovered that our idea of ‚Äúletting off steam‚ÄĚ as a way of dealing with negative feelings is completely wrong neurologically!¬† Instead, it actually further activates an interconnected anger system in the brain. So when we vent with our friends or co-workers, we‚Äôre building up steam rather than releasing it.

A better analogy: expressing our frustrations turns up the heat under the pot ‚Äď and stopping our negative talk is like putting a lid on the pot and removing it from the heat.¬† That choice actually changes the way ours brain process the negative situation. ¬† We‚Äôre just not as angry anymore!¬† Even better, if we can actually look for something that is worthy of praise in this person or situation, positive feelings often replace the negative ones ‚Äď which can help improve even the most difficult relationships.

This doesn’t mean you should repress negative feelings, or that you can’t share something important with a supportive friend.  It does mean to be careful about why you are sharing and how.

A friend recently decided to do the 30-Day Kindness Challenge for her 7 year-old adopted son. As a child from a hard place, he had spent years fighting attachment and exhibiting difficult and unpleasant behavior, mostly directed at his new mom. When she first started the challenge, my friend was honestly stumped about how she was going to participate in her regular support group for adoptive moms since she couldn’t say anything negative!

What occurred was fascinating.¬† She was still able to share concerns and seek advice, but because she wasn‚Äôt sharing those ‚Äúcan you believe it?!‚ÄĚ comments, she found she was much less angry with him.¬† As she sought support, her words were less heated ‚Äď almost like reporting facts in a news story rather than fueling the fire of her frustration and anger.¬† In the end she felt more positive about her relationship with her son and she still felt heard and understood by her support system. Win-win!

So the next time you find yourself picking up the phone to call a friend to complain, or start venting around the water cooler, stop yourself.  Remember that it will not make you feel better.    Try it; you will see the difference it makes.   And it will help you want to go the next step, which is to live a life evidenced by graciousness even when others are harsh.  To be kind even when it isn’t warranted.  To notice the things that are worthy of praise, not just those that are worthy of driving you crazy.  And to be the one who reaches out to others, to share the truth that living life this way is a lot more fun.


Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

******

I can definitely attest to being amazed how little I care about minor things anymore. ¬†Something seemed to happen when I turned 30 this past birthday – I completely stopped caring about things that didn’t matter, and found true beauty and freedom in depending wholly on Christ for my self-worth and assurance. ¬†Something weird also happened with turning 30… along with not caring about things that didn’t matter, I seemed to find people’s over-reactions or ridiculous anger hilarious or entertaining. ¬†I’m still not entirely sure why… but it’s a nice change of freedom and joy, embracing the beauty of life and freedom of Christ.

Besides… it’s better to live as a happy woman (wife and mother especially!) than an old sourpuss. ¬†Perhaps this is what Christ meant when He talked about living life in abundance?

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1888 – Letters Show Women Who Create Happy Marriages Pick Well & Are Mature

About a year ago, I picked up a book from the library thinking it would be an interesting read. ¬†I had no idea I was picking up a book written by a feminist author, who’s agenda was clear and intriguing through all it’s 400 pages. ¬†I’m so glad I read it, as it helped me to understand from a feminist perspective, the lies that are promoted about women and marriage.

Although there could possibly be 100 different post ideas or more from this one gem of a feminist book, one of the more interesting ones to me that caught my attention, was centered on what creates happiness in marriage.

So what creates happiness in marriage?

According to feminism, it’s all on the man. ¬†He has to meet all her needs first, no matter how outlandish they are, and then she’ll meet his needs in return, like a reward for letting her get her way. ¬†He has to accept her the way she is, or the way she will let herself physically and emotionally become (if she gains weight or acquires a contentious spirit after marriage), and he can’t ask her to change because that would be uncomfortable for her to face her faults. ¬†It’s the whole “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” meme… if “Mamma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!”

And that is very true.  If the mom/wife decides to not be happy, to be miserable even though she has a good man, has a nice house, has more than enough money and has the blessings of children, then everyone in the house will suffer because of it.  It comes down to immaturity or lack of character.  If a woman cannot earnestly create a happy marriage with a normal, good man, then she is failing not only herself, but also her husband and even failing her children.

It’s my opinion that it’s fairly easy to create a happy marriage.

Unless you’re married to a AAA man who’s truly abusive, or an alcoholic, or a philanderer, (Abuse/Alcohol/Affairs), men are simple and are quite easy to make happy or content. ¬†So the AAA issues aside, in my opinion, it’s the wife who has a lot of control in either creating or destroying their marriage from the inside out. ¬†A woman who is not married to a AAA member, and who is still harping on minor things like jealousy over his hobbies, flying into emotional rages, making everyone miserable in her household, is selfish and has never learned how to become a mature woman.

This expectation that a wife needs to be mature, is something that society thinks is asking too much of her. ¬†It’s the man’s responsibility to do everything the way she wants it right? ¬†He’s supposed to make her happy… never mind that she actually controls her own happiness.

So it seems that not only must a woman pick well (avoid the AAA types and personalities), but also she must grow into maturity in order to accept her part in creating a beautiful marriage.

Back to feminist book I read a year ago, in describing the “New Woman in England,” the author talked about a Mona Caird, who was the first one to bring this issue to the public, and wrote an article in 1888 entitled, “Marriage,” that was published in the Westminister Review. ¬†Her article received no less than 27,000 letters sent in as the public responded to her claims about marriage.

Caird pronounced marriage “a failure.” ¬†Because a wife was still subject to a “system of purchase,” she was forced to develop her moral standards “in accordance with her servitude to man.” ¬†A wife did not honor her own intelligence, education, or chastity, except to the extenet that it was “relative” to her husband. ¬†…

Because the wife’s virtues “belong” to her husband, he sees himself “dishonoured” by any of her failings. ¬†the idea that a man’s honor can be injured by his wife’s infidelity is, in Caird’s eyes, “a most naive proclamation of the theory of proprietorship.” …

Caird offered a number of radical proposals to alter this state of “degrading bondage” (aka marriage). ¬†One solution was to reject marriage altogether. ¬†this was the option taken by “an increasing number of women… refusing a life of comparative ease in marriage, rather than enter upon it as a means of livelihood, for which their freedom has to be sacrificed.”

I found in reading the short clips from the marriages that they could be separated into two groups: Happy or Miserable, and within the Miserable Marriage group, into 4 more separations: Abuse, Alcohol, Affairs, or Immaturity. ¬†Here are some of these women’s personal thoughts from 1888. ¬†I found them all fascinating, and it comforting to know that people really haven’t changed that much. ¬†That even over 100 years ago, women were either capable of creating a beautiful marriage, or were only focused on themselves and whether or not all their circumstances were perfect.

Miserable Marriages in 1888:

“I must say I concur in the suggestion that greater facilities should be afforded for divorce. ¬†Let me cite my own case. ¬†My husband is a helpless drunkard. ¬†It is true, he earns a good living and keeps me in comparative luxury; but is this an adequate consideration for the fact that i have to associate with a drunken, besotted husband five nights out of seven?”

-Lucretia

“I should indeed be grateful to Mrs. Mona Caird, or to anybody else, who would show us unhappily married folk a decent way out of our difficulties. ¬†Marriage, in my case, has been a miserable failure, simply because my husband and I do not suit each other. ¬†Ours is a clear case of incompatibility, proved beyond all doubt by the almost daily jarring and wrangling of some fourteen years.… ¬†We have both broken every vow we made to each other on our wedding day, save one; and being highly moral, if nothing else, we must still endure, wearing out our days in mutual misery, and darkening and embittering our children’s lives by a loveless and joyless home… ” -A TIRED WIFE

“I myself am a deserted wife, and my husband has treated me with exceptional contempt and unkindness, but I am proud to say that so great is my reverence for the sanctity of the marriage vow, that if my husband sent for me to return to him to-morrow, I would go, and with a hearty will and friendly affection strive to do my duty to him. ¬†-A City Merchant’s Wife

“I married, unthinkingly, a man whom I did not love. ¬†I thought that perhaps I might grow to care for him, but I did not do so…. ¬†As I am his wife, I consider that I ought to stay with him, but my whole soul revolts against being tied to a man for whom I have no particle of love, and who, in tastes, character, pursuits, is my direct opposite. ¬†I reflect how much better a woman I should have been had love and not duty, ruled me…. ” ¬†-MATRIMONIAL ADVENTURER

“My partner and I suffer from a total incompatibility of disposition. ¬†We do not quarrel but there is an absolute want of sympathy – an absolute antipathy of every thought and feeling… ¬†I believe there would be fewer fretful, unhappy, and brokendown wives if husbands would see that their wives had amusements and occupations, apart from domestic matters…. ¬†Another case of “Failure” in marriage is the objection English husbands have to their wives being independent in money matters… Few men realise how humiliating it is to a woman of independent spirit to ask for every sixpence, nor the spirit of bitterness and rebellion that it engenders…. ¬†” -A LOST LIFE

The Happily Married women of 1888 who were part of the 27,000 letter response will be featured tomorrow, along with their secrets to what made a marriage happy even then.  Will it be the same things that make marriages happy today?

(Quotes and excerpt taken from A History of the Wife, by Marilyn Yalom)

Giving in to Anger, is Gambling with Your Mental Health

“Anger is a distraction,” my mom said, “it’s a person’s way of distracting themselves from the real problems (or pain) in their lives instead of dealing with them. ¬†And you pay a price for it.”

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about why people, especially women (myself included), will often fly into irrational anger – even if they seem responsible, calm, and kind in everyday interactions. ¬†Yes, it’s irrational anger. ¬†To be furious at something that is true, and then to feel the superior prerogative to attack someone out of anger, is irrational behavior. ¬†It is one thing to be angry, it is quite another to lash out at others in your anger.

“And you pay a price for it.”

This is what ultimately is the key to avoiding giving in to unhealthy actions that come from feeling angry. ¬†When my mom was in her 20’s-30’s, she had to learn to deal with her anger, and she admitted to me that she had a lot of it back then. ¬†It was easy to fly into it, to express her anger, and she gave little thought to what expressing it cost her. ¬†In the 1970’s, it was popular psychology to feel confident in expressing your anger or rage. ¬†Now, from recent science on this subject, we actually know that when you express it, your anger doesn’t get better, in fact, it actually gets worse and grows into more and more… anger. ¬†In extreme cases, giving in to your anger can cause abuse or even murder. ¬†Indeed, even Jesus described an angry tongue as being capable of “murdering” someone, how much more so when one is giving in to their feelings of anger in a truly violent way.

It wasn’t until my mom¬†came across a book by Abraham Low, Mental Health Through Will-Training, first published in 1950, that she learned that giving in to anger, is “gambling with your mental health.”

When you feel those feelings of anger or “temper” as Low describes it, your peace and inner solitude¬†are disrupted… you’re rendered ineffective and distracted¬†from accomplishing the tasks of your daily life well.

“You can pay the price of that for days,” said my mom. ¬†It tangles you up, wastes your precious energy, and robs you of your mental strength and health.

***

A large part of being mentally healthy, is to understand how to remain calm, responsible, and how to deal with your own anger.

Dealing with your anger means simply not acting out in it. ¬†It means having self-control. ¬†Humility instead of “intellectual snobbishness” (the desire to show superiority). ¬†To have enough character to behave courteously, friendly… in order to create good will with people you are required to do everyday life with, and strangers you may not know. ¬†Being a mentally healthy person means you take all these things into account, and ACT accordingly.

Yes, being mentally healthy means having wisdom and discernment to know you are obligated to control your actions and behavior.

Being mentally healthy means you do not give yourself permission to lose your temper and lash out in anger against others. ¬†To lose your self-control and pay the price of your peace, the embarrassment, the destructive temper feelings, and the shame that comes when you’re finished giving in to your emotions and realize the damage you caused.

I talk about my mom often on my blog, she was instrumental to a lot of the knowledge I have, and who I’ve become as a woman, wife, and mother to my children. ¬†She really was amazing growing up, always giving advice and beautiful instruction on life. ¬†It is wonderful to still have her here, and yes, she does know about & read my blog. ¬†One of the things she did when we were young was to read a Proverbs chapter a day, based on the days of the month. ¬†I’ll never forget the way she’d read the Bible to my brother and I as we were curled up next to her, and I’ll never forget hearing those words of wisdom as they are still with me.

Here are some of the great verses to remind us what God says about anger and losing our temper:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.  Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense.” ¬†Proverbs 10:11-13

***

The lips of the righteous feed many with their instructions…. ¬†The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate….” Proverbs 10:21a, 30a, 32a

“An evil person is trapped by their rebellious speech, but the righteous escapes from trouble.

A man will be satisfied with good because of the words he chooses to speak....” ¬†Proverbs 12:13-14a

***

“With the words of their mouth, the ungodly destroys their neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.

Whoever shows contempt for their neighbor lacks good sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.

“A gracious woman gains honor…. ¬†A kind person benefits their own self, but a cruel person brings disaster on themselves.” ¬†Proverbs 11:9, 12, 16a, 17

***

“The thoughts of the righteous are just, but guidance from the wicked leads to deceit.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible. ¬†

Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right….

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever….

Those who promote peace have joy.

A righteous person is careful in how they deal with their neighbor….”

Proverbs 12:5-6, 16, 17a, 18, 19a, 20b

***

A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. ” Proverbs 14:29-30

***

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out (without self-control) folly.

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.

The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge….

A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.

The mind of the righteous thinks before answering, but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:1-2,4, 7a, 18

***

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Patience is better than power,

and controlling one’s temper, than capturing an entire city.”

Proverbs 16:7, 32

Problems and Pain

heathershappiness

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult Рonce we truly understand it and accept it Рthen life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.  They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upone their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others.  I know about this moaning because I have done my share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. ¬†Without discipline we can solve nothing. ¬†With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. ¬†With total discipline we can solve all problems.

What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one.  Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration or grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair.  These are uncomfortable feelings, often very uncomfortable, often as painful as any kind of physical pain.  Indeed, it is because of the pain that events or conflicts engender in us that we call them problems.  And since life poses an endless series of problems, life is always difficult and is full of pain as well as joy.

*

Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning.

Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure.  Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom.  It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually.  

When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. ¬†It is through the pain of confronting and reolving problems that we learn. ¬†As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct.” ¬†It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems.

Most of us are not so wise.  Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, attempt to avoid problems.  We procrastinate, hoping that they will go away.  We ignore them, forget them, pretend they do not exist.  We even take drugs to assist us in ignoring them, so that by deadening ourselves to the pain we can forget the problems that cause the pain.  We attempt to skirt around problems rather than meet them head on.

We attempt to get out of them rather than suffer through them.

This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. ¬†Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree, lacking complete mental health. ¬†Some of us will go to quite extraordinary lengths to avoid our problems and the suffering they cause, proceeding far afield from all that is clearly good and sensible in order to try to find an easy way out, building the most elaborate fantasies in which to live, sometimes to the total exclusion of reality. ¬†In the succinctly elegant words of Carl Jung, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.”

But the substitute itself becomes more painful than the legitimate suffering it was designed to avoid. ¬†The neurosis itself become the biggest problem. ¬†True to form, many will then attempt to avoid this pain and this problem in turn, building layer upon layer of neurosis. ¬†Fortunately, however, some possess the courage to face their neuroses and begin – usually with the help of psychotherapy – to learn how to experience legitimate suffering. In any case, when we avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, we also avoid the growth that problems demand from us. ¬†It is for this reason that in chronic mental illness we stop growing, we become stuck. ¬†And without healing, the human spirit begins to shrivel.”

from The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D.