The Difference Between Venting and Releasing Emotion

Someone in the Facebook group posted an interesting question on the In My Sacred Space Facebook page:

“When someone else says, ‘I need to vent,’ or ‘I need to get this off my chest,’ – Do you think/feel it’s good for those involved in that conversation? I personally don’t agree with that type of discussion, avoiding those who really LOVE to vent. It appears those who do that are looking for others to share in the dense energy they’ve created out of their own ‘situation.’ Any other thoughts on this subject?”

I think it depends on the situation and the person involved as well as their motivations for wanting someone to vent to.

In one regard, it’s not good to bottle up emotions and talking about whatever it is that is bothering them with a trusted friend in a safe space can serve as an emotional release. In that sense, the listener (if they, themselves are in a good space, emotionally) can serve as a healing agent and help transmute that energy by holding space for their experience. Like therapy. Of course, that person has to be adept at holding the space for others without taking on their energy–have good boundaries, understand constructive ways to offer help if asked, etc.

Examples of healthy reasons people want to vent:

  • Someone did something that violated one of their boundaries and hurt them
  • They want reassurance that how they are feeling is okay
  • They want a trusted friend to act as a sounding board as they sort through how they feel about a particular situation
  • They want advice on what to do
  • They want another person to validate that they are perceiving the situation correctly and reacting appropriately
  • They want to know that another person understands how they are feeling

As the person holding space, always ask, “What do you need from me?” before offering opinions or advice. As the person seeking space, always ask, “Are you in a good headspace where I can talk to you about something that happened to me/how I’m feeling?”

However, there are people who chronically vent. These are typically people who are incapable of regulating their own emotional state and constantly need to discharge onto someone else in the form of emotional dumping. And those people, nine times out of 10, are creating their own drama. Their venting is really just a way of shirking responsibility for doing so by blaming someone else, making themselves a victim, and those who coddle them do nothing but enable their victimhood. They are venting because they are looking for validation. The more you validate them, the more they will vent. It’s a cycle.

Examples of unhealthy reasons people want to vent:

  • Chronic complaining but never seeking solutions
  • Gossiping
  • Stirring the pot and creating drama
  • Looking to be the center of someone else’s attention and using “venting” as a disguise

This person doesn’t respect the other person’s time, boundaries, or frame of mind. They are only thinking about themselves.

Learn more about victim consciousness.

People who chronically vent will often stop venting to the person I mentioned above who has good boundaries and redirects them, because they don’t get the validation they are looking for. They may attempt to vent one or two times and then will move on to someone else who will give them the reaction that they want.

These are energy vampires, also known as covert narcissists.

Often, people who are covert narcissists don’t realize why their life is so dramatic. They just get so overwhelmed by their emotions that they need to spew them onto the first person (or twenty…) that comes along. They don’t realize it’s all happening in their own mind. They don’t realize that they are allowing it. They aren’t self-aware enough to come to that conclusion.

Thanks for being here,



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