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Is Venting Your Feelings *Actually* Productive? A Psychologist’s Take

What does broadening your perspective look like? There are a few different forms it can take: “Maybe [someone] shares with you how they’ve dealt with similar situations, or they ask you, ‘How do you think you might be able to manage this productively? How have you dealt with this in the past? How do you think this is going to impact you long-term?’ rather than just getting you to keep on adding logs to the burning fire by continually rehearsing what you felt,” suggests Kross.

Within this general structure, the actual process often looks different, depending on the situation. As a listener, you may try to shift the conversation to look at the broader perspective and find that the person venting needs some more time to lay the problem out. “There’s an art to doing this,” he explains. “My advice is to just feel it out. Ask the person, ‘Hey, I get it. I have an idea. Can I share with you?’ And sometimes they’ll say, ‘No, I’m not done. I want to keep going.’ Let them go for a little while longer, then try again a little bit later. Other times, in my experience, they’re like, ‘Please tell me what to do.'”

One final note from Kross: Be very intentional about who you choose to vent to. “There are a couple of people in my life that I turn to regularly….They’re really good at both listening and then helping me go broad,” he shares. There may be others in your life who you love dearly, but they may not be the best at zooming out when faced with a problem–again, you don’t just want to go on a merry-go-round of negative emotions, here.

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