Saturday, February 6, 2016

When You Want to Call a Friend to Vent

I've been thinking about a message that comes up a lot in my world lately - that of being positive and not talking about the things that are going wrong. Pastor John Gray said this best when he claimed that "a lot of our friends WANT us to be broken." I find this to be absolutely true! When I tell my friends that I am doing great, I find it's a conversation-stopper.

Today, I'm going to address this phenomenon from a Biblical and research perspective. Then, next week we will explore alternatives to wallowing in our troubles and instead focusing on what is RIGHT in our lives.

Last year about this time, I read that "Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back" (Psalm 29:11). This brought me up quickly. How many times do I call a sister or friend to vent about what happened last to irritate me? We are told by many people, friends and family for sure, that venting is good. We'll feel good to "get it off our chest." Yet, this verse seems to indicate that we might be way off base with that notion. 

Further, research shows that contrary to popular belief, venting breeds aggression, hostility, and resentment. Ouch. That's a lot of bad outcomes for a simple vent. Certainly that's not the positive outcomes we are promised if we call our friend and vent about our day. 

So, what's a person to do? Well, researchers Cavell and Malcolm recommend beginning by taking some deep breaths. I know, sounds simple. But next time you're angry, see how "simple" it is when all you want to do is call a friend and spew. 

Next, focus on what's good. Second Timothy 3:2 says that people who are lovers of themselves (hhmm...self-centered focus on one's own problems?) are also lacking in gratitude. On the other hand, Hebrews 12:28 tells us that since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (it's a sure thing - no need to get worried about it or focus on our circumstances), we should show gratitude. So, in your situation, what can you be grateful for?  Perhaps by this time in your situation, you realize you are glad you didn't vent about it to someone! 

So that's our start for today. Venting may not be all it's cracked up to be. Instead, stop, breathe, and be grateful. 

The Bible and researchers do know some great strategies for what we can talk about with our friends that has GREAT effects and builds our relationships - without needing to be broken all the time. But we'll talk about that next time.

Happy Communicating!

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