We’re all guilty of being an emotional dumper at some point in our life without even realizing it. While it’s generally advisable to talk to someone you trust when you have overwhelming thoughts and feelings, we need to be aware of overstepping boundaries. A quick vent can unintentionally cross into emotional dumping so it’s best to adopt healthy coping mechanisms.
The Difference Between Venting and Dumping
Judith Orloff, M.D. differentiates the two on Psychology Today. “A healthy way to express anger is through venting, whereas dumping is toxic and can traumatize and overwhelm us.” When we vent to our friends, we don’t usually consider the gravity of our situation and whether or not they are in the headspace for a constructive conversation.
Consent is Key
Once you realize your friends are not your therapists, you’ll be able to recognize when you’re bordering on emotional dumping. They’ll listen to your problems and be a shoulder to cry on, but they’re not professional trained to help you deal with the overwhelming thoughts and emotions. Orloff suggests asking someone if they are available to vent to, to give them a heads up about the matter.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms to Adopt
Sometimes it’s best to just sit with your feelings for a while. It’s harder to communicate to others when you personally can’t even explain how you’re feeling. You could untangle your thoughts through journaling, meditate, or go for a walk and ponder for a bit. When you’ve processed what just happened, you can then vent to a loved one and regain perspective. This helps you focus on relief and release rather than further inviting negative energy and being stuck in victim mode.
Venting to a friend isn’t discouraged. It’s just a matter of having boundaries and not doing it too often as to exhaust them. Keep in mind that they have their own problems to deal with, too, and you should also be attentive when it’s their turn to vent.