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Six Great Ways to Vent Your Frustrations

Six Great Ways to Vent Your Frustrations

We all have ups and downs to life. How do you deal with the downs? Do you numb yourself and avoid them? Or do you find the hidden gift held within them?

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Each time a painful emotion is felt, it provides an opportunity.Pain gives us the gift of growth in a hidden package.Something is shouting out for a change.If we pause and open this gift, a great secret of freedom and love can be revealed.Sometimes when the pain is large enough, we have no choice but to look at it anyway. My largest pains have helped to open the greatest growths in my life.Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

Finding a healthy way to vent can even help to relieve anxiety, something more and more of us are suffering from in these times. Those who don’t find a healthy way of venting often stuff it inside until they explode one day or get into the habit of finding ways to numb themselves, such as eating. Venting can help to truly relieve stress, which is known to cause many ailments and “dis-eases” in our bodies.

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Before true clarity can be reached on why something is happening, it is best to free up the strong energy that arises from the frustration of the situation. Once that energy has been expressed, you can rest in the stillness, while still connected to the power of emotion, to reach the greatest levels of clarity possible. It is here where our insight is at a natural high. With the power of the openness we have after pain, our greatest growth can happen. We can release the ties to these situations and grow beyond them.

Here are some ways to vent out the frustrations, sadness, and anger that arise as a normal part of growing and a healthy life:

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  1. Cry. When you feel deeply sad, crying works beautifully.Often when we cry, we want a shoulder to cry on.If none is available, cry to yourself and receive it with love.Either way, allowing yourself the space to cry can work wonders on freeing up the stored up energy inside that is too much to contain within.While crying connect with the pain you feel and cry into it.
  2. Punch. If you feel very angry, you may feel the desire to hit something. A very healthy way of exerting this powerful energy is to punch a pillow. Hit the pillow like it’s the person/thing you are angry at. Yell and cuss at it as well if that helps to release that tension. Cuss words are great at opening up that stored up energy and getting to the root of your emotions. As you hit, smash into that frustration and feel exactly what aspects of it are making you angry.
  3. Write. Writing can help to clear the overwhelm of information in your head. It allows a pouring out of what is going on inside. Once you’ve written all you can, some things will still stand out or certain feelings may still be felt strongly. These are the largest lessons in the situation. Writing provides a great clarity that other ways may not give. You can easily reflect on what you were feeling in the situation once the emotion has passed in an effort to keep the lesson fresh in your mind and heart. Some people enjoy tearing up the pages after they’ve written as a way to exert their frustration. Molly Cook suggests capturing the emotions and negative energy in the paper, for your eyes only, as a private way to vent. Laurel Sutton recommends online communities such as Asshat! They allow a platform for transforming your frustration into an amusing rant and provide the opportunity for anonymous feedback, if desired.
  4. Exercise. Some of your most frustrating days in your life may turn out to be your best days in the gym. As Jen Olewinskiso beautifully puts it, “Plus, getting in shape can’t be that bad right?”Running, boxing and walking all allow great ways to vent.Many spiritual people find their way into their deepest connections through opening the door to regular exercise.Exerting energy in this way, with aregular commitment to their health, opens them like nothing else.
  5. Talk. One woman told me the story of a nurse who rode the bus every day. She found a way to stay remarkably young-looking by letting go of anger immediately. She did not direct it at her family or others. Instead, she got on the bus and waited for a passenger to sit near. She’d ask if they minded listening to her and if not, she’d share her dilemma. Once she’d talked it out, she’d thank them and get off the bus. Often times, we can learn so much just by hearing ourselves speak and we don’t need much feedback at all. If you have a trusted confident or teacher, even better.
  6. Create Art. What better to do than to channel this energy into creating something beautiful? Pablo Solomon is an artist who bangs a hung of stone with a hammer and chisel to release his tension. He used the frustration of 9/11 to make it one of his most productive times ever.

So how do you vent? Please share. You may help someone else who will connect with what you do…

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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