We’ve talked about brain dumps before and their significance, but sometimes dumping turns into venting and that leads to more negativity. Here’s how to walk that line between a dump and a vent and stay on the right side of unloading without the negative mental consequences.
Our brains get overfull sometimes with stress, worry, responsibility, learning new things, or the to-do list. It’s important to write it down and unpack our heads. This helps us see – physically see – a list of items we need to think about. We don’t need to think about it all at once, so writing them down gives our brains a rest from trying to hold it all together.
Sometimes these things are feelings or experiences we’re trying to process. They don’t have to be task lists alone. You might want to write out that bad call or your coworkers actions and words if something about them is bothering you. You might write out your desire for a promotion or your frustration for lack of recognition. All that is okay to write out.
Brain dumps don’t have to be written though. You can confide in a friend or coach or therapist as well. This is great if you have a good listener. (Coaches are great listeners!) This helps you feel even better. Paper and screens make for a great way to unload but a person helps us feel heard and valued.
Journal: I can’t believe he put me on a double after I told him I needed that day off! Now I’m stuck working with her and I’ll get no sleep before I help my parents move. I’m going to be trash that day.
Coach: You seem irritated this morning.
Coaching Partner: My bills are overdue and I didn’t get the raise I’m due for. Yeah, I’m irritated and stressed.
Coach: Sounds like you need to get it off your chest. Keep going.
Coaching Partner: I was due for my review last month and should be getting a raise, but my boss did the review on paper and sent it to me but it said nothing about a raise. I didn’t even get to speak to him. Since my husband is out of work, I haven’t been able to pay our bills in the last two weeks. I’ve put off so much that needs to get done like house repairs and now that’s off the table.
Beware of Venting
So, brain dumping is great, but where’s the line to venting and how do you recognize it? Let’s start by pointing out that sometimes, on occasion, venting is okay. If we’re boiling over with anger or frustration or other strong emotions, venting is sometimes needed. But don’t hang out there too long. Get it off your chest and move on to taking care of you.
See, venting is about complaining, and complaints can be valid, but they don’t turn into actions. All they do is point out flaws. Once the flaws are made known, something else needs to happen. Either you inspire others to action, or you take action. The vent itself is not action.
Reliving the complaint or venting more isn’t going to fix anything. What it will do is perpetuate those negative feelings. Those frustrations or anger or whatever they are will fester and grow. They will outgrow the original issue and take over your thoughts. At that point, you’ve let whoever or whatever you’re venting about – even if it’s you! – take over your head. Who wants that?
Walking the Line of Venting
Journal: He’s a jerk. I hate this place! My brother probably won’t even show up to help! I feel like quitting that place. It’s such a dump. No one cares about anyone else. That day’s going to suck! If I could just call out, but I need the job.
Coaching Partner: How am I supposed to manage all this? My boss is oblivious and I’m struggling at home and no one seems to be helping me!
Coach: Anything else?
Coaching Partner: No, I’m just really frustrated. I feel like I’m on my own with too much on my plate.
Dump and Move On
The best way to avoid the negatives of venting is to dump and move on, or vent and move on. Write it out, talk it out, even vent it out if needed, then move. What’s your action to all this? What can you do? What’s in your power? Don’t worry about someone else’s choices, just yours. Can you speak to something who can affect this situation? Can you change something in your life?
The best way out of frustration is finding a new focus, a new path by your own choices which you make and you control. So, do you dump and unload for the sake of unloading and feeling lighter, or do you vent and stew and stay in that negative place? Which do you think will benefit you more going forward? Which habit will you grow?
A Better Way
Journal: Maybe my brother could use a reminder call. I can tell him I’ll be late because of work and he can start without me. I’m going to start looking for a new job, but I need to get through this week first. Okay, that’s the plan.
Coach: Go back to the raise you mentioned. Has it been late before?
Coaching Partner: Every time, but he does back pay, so there’s that.
Coach: Is there a way you can speak with your boss? Have you asked?
Coaching Partner: I guess it all came on at once, the quick “sign here” and then the overdue bill notices… I can grab him tomorrow morning or email him tonight.
Coach: Which will you do, or will you do both?
Coaching Partner: I’ll do both. I’ll email him tonight and ask. Then I’ll catch him tomorrow to make sure he knows. Also, I think my husband has an interview coming up. He’s probably just as stressed.