This thing happens sometimes. We get upset, we vent and share our feelings – the way “they” sometimes say we should. We rant. We cry and rail about injustice or perceived wrongs. And then this weird thing happens. The audience we have shared our stress with gets upset. They get dragged down yet we don’t get uplifted. At all. The listeners don’t help us. That doesn’t always happen, of course. Sometimes someone will say the right thing, encourage us, raise our spirits and give us hope for the future. But some days we walk away feeling worse than we when we unloaded.

Balancing the positive and negative elements in life is made worse by our humanness … (I think I made up a word there. Sorry. Wait. Not sorry. I bet you know exactly what I mean). Humans are after all prone to a strong negativity bias – likely rooted in a strong survival instinct. I get it. I do. In the right places to the right people, there is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings.

Actually, I suppose I believe there is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings generally. What I encourage though is a consideration of your goals through venting, ranting or crying on someone’s shoulder. If expressing your emotional frailties and negative thinking or cognitive distortions is going to help you move forward that’s one thing. If you are simply unloading onto someone else it’s not a particularly thoughtful, kind or necessary thing, is it?

Weigh your words before you use them. Let go of defensive posturing and listen actively. Listen to hear not to respond and you may be surprised by what you learn. Share what you need to share by all means. If you do share don’t be shocked if people share in return as well though. And determine ahead of time what kind of a shoulder, and support you are able and willing to provide. This is true in animal sports, the internet world and plain old real life.

Vent, cry and rant when you need to. But don’t make it a routine habit!