(Buck BFF settled in and ready for my *venting.*)
I’ve started talking daily walks with a new neighborhood friend.
Our walks are the perfect addition to my days (we talk everything from child rearing to career refining as we go) and have quickly become key in helping me manage life-stress.
I barrel into our brief time together like a runaway train (OKIhavesomuchtotellyouabout…) slowing only as we approach
the station our houses.
Literally and metaphorically.
- I greet my friend.
- I inform her I have a vast amount of brain-crap to release.
- I remind her she doesn’t even need to listen merely talking it through aloud helps me process.
- I talk and laugh and realize whatever had felt HUGE is no longer overwhelming.
- I’m done. We’re done. Until it all begins again the next day.
This post is not titled Carla’s 5 Step Process to Talking Through Life Challenges! because there really is no method to my rambling-madness.
It all cascades out and, more often than not, entirely unplanned until the moment I head outside.
This post is focused on a conclusion I’ve arrived at after consideration of how I approach our ambulation time:
There’s a vast difference between venting and complaining.
I like to define myself as one who doesn’t frequently complain.
I know complaining doesn’t help, it brings me and those around me down, and, even when I can’t see what’s coming, I know the importance of havin faith.
Still, I’m a person who needs a tribe and who requires others to help me process what’s on my mind.
I concluded what I do (on these walks and in general) is vent not complain.
To my mind a complainer shares a consistent barrage of negative thoughts.
A complainer may sort of want to change (themselves, a situation) but is for the most part unwilling to take action to set any change into motion.
When I complain I’m rarely interested in feedback or suggestions. I don’t want to hear the positives of my situation.
By complaining I’ve chosen to remain stuck and wallow.
Oh, did I mention complaining is v-e-r-y repetitive? It is here anyway.
During times when I’ve been a complainer I’ve focused on the same situation repeatedly refusing to make any shifts in how I approach it. As a result, my complaining was as draining to the individual(s) on the receiving end as it was to me.
It was an endless negative loop.
Venting, for me, can often initially manifest in a positive monologue.
(This is a term I’ve discovered I use frequently with friends as in: Sorry I just gave you a monologue–but I’d love your thoughts and BTW *damn* I feel better now!).
Venting serves as a cathartic release of thoughts and emotions I’ve carried in my heard and need to give a voice.
Venting is cathartic.
Whether the other person shares or just listens and, for those moments, holds my problems with me.
When I vent I’m aware it wont immediately solve my problem (in this way it is similar to complaining) yet I concurrently know shining light on my concerns makes my stresses feel less daunting.
I can see humor in my challenges where, before venting, I often find none.
Venting allows me release (I’m a pressure cooker. When I talk through feelings they ooze out slowly versus exploding at the wrong time).
Post-vent I feel relieved and, because my mood is appreciably lighter, my people may leave me happier before and definitely not dragged down.
“Are we about done here?”
The other morning, as we walked and I yammered, my new friend laughed and said:
I love how you talk through things. You talk, you debate yourself, you wrap it all up—you’re done! You move on.
I’d already written this post and her words made me smile. How she saw me mirrored how I view myself.
I move on.
Moving on, for me, is the pivotal difference between venting and complaining. With the former I share and move forward, with the latter I whine and wallow.
- Have you considered if you’re a venter or a complainer? Do you perceive a difference between the two?
Angela @ happy fit mama saysJune 27, 2016 at 4:37 am
I think the tone of your voice distinguishes between the two. Complaining has the WHY ME! tone. Venting has more of I NEED TO GET THIS OUT! tone. I do a little of both. I think that’s normal!
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:36 am
I really agree on the tone of voice or even body language. The intangibles (even vocal inflection) REALLY shift from one approach to the other. And can transform the whiniest complaint into a GET IT OFF MY CHEST laughing vent.
Cate saysJune 27, 2016 at 4:53 am
LOL at your use of the word monologue.
I think I do that, too.
Debbie Rodrigues saysJune 27, 2016 at 4:58 am
And I thought I was the only one who thought this way. You made my day, Carla!
Yeah, there’s a difference. Personally, venting prevents me from complaining.
I let it all out, I listen to myself, I take a 3rd person perspective, I evaluate, and I learn from experience.
Complaining makes me think of self-pity. While through venting, I many times realize it wasn’t so bad, or that I allows me to get over things faster.
Joy saysJune 27, 2016 at 5:00 am
Long time reader first time caller ?
I really liked this post as I try to vent and rarely complain. I love the way you clarify differences between the two.
You rock. I wish you were my neighbor!
Susie @ SuzLyfe saysJune 27, 2016 at 5:22 am
I see venting as productive. Complaining (to me) isn’t. Venting, you are looking to get something off your chest, free up room for productivity, or to get someone else’s take. Complaining has no agenda other than to garner sympathy. Which isn’t productive.
Allie saysJune 27, 2016 at 5:34 am
I believe I do both exceptionally well 🙂 But yes, I too need my tribe to vent and work though my many issues. Just saying it aloud most times is enough to help me see the “problem” for what it really is and, usually my friends get a good laugh!
Tia saysJune 27, 2016 at 5:39 am
Ive always viewed the two thing as the same and have used the words interchangeably.
Admittedly, now that I read this, I think I complain more than I’ve been mainly because sometimes I fear when my friends leave me they are more tired than when we met up.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:35 am
Right or wrong that was my initial motivation for thinking about all this as well. We’d moved, I was making new friends, I LONGED TO GET STUCK IN THE COMPLAINING PLACE, I knew if I did? Id never find new companions 🙂 Venting worked far far better and, in a way, connected me with other woman.
MCM Mama Runs saysJune 27, 2016 at 6:08 am
Definitely a difference. I’m a venter too. If I let it all out, I can handle it. If I don’t, it slowly builds into a stress that I can’t run off. This is not to say I never complain, but most of the time talking about something at the very least lets me let go of some of the stress and sometimes allows me (or the person I’m venting to) to see a solution that I didn’t realize was out there. So, vent away to me anytime.
Melissa chapman saysJune 27, 2016 at 6:24 am
Seriously though sometimes I read your posts and I think we are the same person and I wish we lived around the corner so I could just ring your bell and sit on your couch for an hour. Also I am a total venter?
messymimi saysJune 27, 2016 at 6:38 am
Whining grates on the nerves of those who have to hear it, venting is understood as healthy. Before i start, i ask if what i’m saying is going to grate on nerves because i’m refusing to do something different, or if i’m just talking about a difficulty.
Jessica @eatsleepbe saysJune 27, 2016 at 6:41 am
I love this so hard. This is exactly how I feel! Sometimes I do just need to complain fora few moments and GET IT OUT. Though when I vent, I am usually doing so because in my head I’m forming some sort of path to take based on the issues, or looking for constructive conversation from someone else.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:03 am
There’s a fine line between venting and complaining. I do both–I try to not be a complainer because it is really useless. Nothing feels better than a good venting session, though!
Coco saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:09 am
Oh, I’ll be pondering this all day! I’m a venter. But I did to make sure I’m not really a complainer.
Sagan saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:25 am
I also think of venting as a release to the right people — it gets the emotions out without potentially hurting someone’s feelings, if the vent somehow relates to a person.
Paula Kiger saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:27 am
There definitely is a difference! As with the pressure cooker, we all need to let off steam once in a while or we’ll explode. For me, venting lets me put my filter aside for a moment because I trust the person I’m with to know that in the long run I’m really positive, I just for this moment in time NEED TO GET IT OUT OF MY SYSTEM!! Great piece.
Liz saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:28 am
Thanks for this Carla. There are a few instances, I’m not going to lie, where I still like to complain. Bust mostly, I’ll stick to venting.
Carol Cassara saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:31 am
It IS a fine line. I used to be a major drama queen but it was really all venting. Big venting. I think it’s easy to burn out when we do that. I still like to vent but don’t have a good outlet for it. Move here!
Cat @ Reader/Eater saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:48 am
This is very Brene Brown to me. I love it. It’s definitely something I try to instill in my itty bits.
We need the exercise of getting shit off our chest and letting it go. We don’t need to pull someone else down into the muck with us.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:33 am
First SEVEN WORDS? No higher compliment. <3
Renee saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:57 am
I think I can be a little of both at times. I try to just vent but sometimes it turns into a complaint! But talking about it with my “tribe” certainly helps cause they “get” me.
Nellie saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:57 am
This is so brilliant and something the world needs to read! I am VERY aware of complaining. Someone said to me years ago that if you are going to complain find a way to fix it, if not, shut it and keep it moving. That STUCK with me to this very day. Now I vent, daily, with my best friend and figure stuff out. Ways to improve, ways to deal with it, or ways to get rid of it all together. We work it out. I know a LOT of complainers, and they are forever stuck in a cycle.
Leanne saysJune 27, 2016 at 8:01 am
complainers become chronic whingers. I had a woman at my desk today and she sighed EVERY time I asked her to do something – she sighed at the (reduced) price of her consultation, she sighed at paying, she sighed at her health refund, she sighed at her paperwork, she sighed at visiting another specialist – and I thought “suck it up princess” – being so miserable all the time must be exhausting. I’ll take a good vent over that any day!
Haralee saysJune 27, 2016 at 8:16 am
There is a huge difference if it is recognized! Complainers are hard to be around consistently because it is really the same thing over and over again. I had a friend and we walked together and she complained about her family, her job, her husband all the time. It was exhausting. If she had just vented it would have been so much better but she never moved on. We stopped walking together.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:32 am
Ive also acknowledged to friends when I REALIZE Im venting about the same struggle repeatedly. I DONT WANNA BE THAT FRIEND I JUST CANT FIGURE OUT A WAY OUT OF THIS RIGHT NOW. Which I think or hope lessened the negative barrage of my words and made them a vent?
Alexis saysJune 27, 2016 at 8:27 am
I like to think I’m a venter. I tell my husband all the time: don’t try to fix my problem, just listen. I need to get it off my chest. I need a walking partner so I can vent, chat, and exercise at the same time!
Lora @ Crazy Running Girl saysJune 27, 2016 at 8:46 am
YES, love this so much. The biggest difference is what you’ve said; complaining, you look for no solution and are like a broken record, where venting, you create a plan of attack and move forward.
Laura Ehlers saysJune 27, 2016 at 9:12 am
Such an important distinction. To me, ‘venting’ is about a specific topic or event in hopes of finding a resolution – either a way to fix it or forget it. ‘Complaining’, on the other hand, is just a constant litany of irritations. I have a very good friend who has difficulty understanding that difference and it is causing her so much difficulty in her life. I plan to share your post with her when the time is right.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:31 am
I love your phrasing here: constant litany of irritations. It is indeed the CONSTANT as we all have a few good complaints NOW AND THEN. It’s the consistency of the whining which can drain both me and others.
Jody - Fit at 58 saysJune 27, 2016 at 9:43 am
I have a feeling I mesh it all together but a great difference here. I tell friends to vent to me if they want to get things off their chest. I also think it is where I am in life. Sometimes I get too caught up in my own mind. Thx for the great post! I appreciate your comment on my blog today too! xoxoxo
AdjustedReality saysJune 27, 2016 at 9:59 am
Oooh. Interesting distinction. I think I have components of both. I’ll VENT about a specific problem/situation at work and through the venting, find a discussion. However, sometimes I’ll COMPLAIN about things that are harder to change. Also, when I get in the realm of being a complainer… I usually just need a snack. 🙂
AdjustedReality saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:00 am
find a SOLUTION not DISCUSSION. Oops!
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:30 am
Those last six words 🙂 ME YOU AND THE CHILD. YES!
Rena McDaniel saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:35 am
I definitely agree. Complaining never gets you anywhere, but venting can open your mind up to ideas you hadn’t even thought of as solutions.
Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:39 am
Honestly? I used to be a very negative minded person. I believe that is because I wasn’t happy with myself though. After overhauling my health, that all changed. Getting healthy really has a bigger impact on your mind than your body.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:29 am
YES!!!! It’s never really about the other person (other people) when we are negative about everything in life. It’s about a fundamental dislike of ourselves <3
Jennifer saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:40 am
Yes, yes, yes!! I need other people to help me process too. I’m a venter but my husband thinks I’m complaining. Is it because men feel hardwired to “fix everything”? Women seem to understand the difference between venting and complaining. My husband? Nope! So I vent with my women friends.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:29 am
YES. It did WONDERS for my marriage when I shifted to that approach as well. Ill vent to him about US-STUFF (the child, house stuff etc) which he might need to know but otherwise FRIENDS IT IS.
Meg Root saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:43 am
I love this post as it frames the idea of getting our problems out in the open, in a productive light. I agree—complaining digs us into a deeper whole, and drags our loving friends and family down with us. I like the word “venting” as a way to talk through things constructively with a helpful friend. I’ve also begun to “follow up” with my friends who have patiently listened to my rants, and let them know how their advice helped me. It makes them more willing to keep listening!
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:28 am
YES!!! GREAT POINT Id not made as well. I do follow up and let people know what “happened.” You nailed it in the sense of there’s nothing more WAIT WHAT?! than when you listen to even the most eloquent of vents and never hear from the person again/hear what happened.
Lola saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:45 am
I think I’m a venter…but of course, I catch myself complaining sometimes. During a recent vacation with the kids, I went through the whole speel about how not everyone is lucky enough to get to take vacations and that we should be grateful that we have the opportunity and not spend the time complaining (the line is too long, its hot, etc). I let them pick a word (they picked ice cream!) that we could say to each other when we would catch anyone complaining…this way, you say the word and we redirect thoughts and no one knew what was going on. I loved it.
One of my friends (also on the trip), started talking about the washcloths in the hotel room and how she really thought it should be 2 and not one and blah, blah, blah. I stopped her, told her about our ice cream plan and then said, ” so to you, I say, Ice cream.” lol. I was so proud of myself because I don’t like conflict, but I also didn’t want to hear griping about a wash cloth when we are walking in beautiful Dominican Republic. Let’s just be grateful and have fun. 🙂 (her son said, ‘you’re going to be telling her that a whole lot.’)
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:27 am
I adore the word picking idea!!!!! Ive done that with something different (child not listening and then I ask her something and she has no idea what Ive said. She now says: Shiny Object) and need to try that here for complaining and the ten year old.
Dr. J saysJune 27, 2016 at 10:57 am
I definitely learn a lot when I talk to friends, both from what I say and from what they say. Nice article and nice dialogue!
Beth Havey saysJune 27, 2016 at 2:16 pm
I want to be a venter, not a complainer. And I love the deer photos. When I lived in Iowa they were everywhere and often in my yard. They loved my hosta plants, but I did not love them. Lovely to look at, but boy they can ruin a garden. Beth
Roxanne Jones saysJune 27, 2016 at 2:42 pm
What a great distinction between–and definition of–venting vs. complaining. I’m definitely a venter because it helps me process and, like you, blow off steam. Then it comes down to “What’re you going to do about it?” because venting without getting to a solution is just complaining, right?
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:26 am
YES YES YES. And having no interest in ever finding one…
Heather Montgomery saysJune 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm
I feel like men don’t always understand a woman’s need to vent and they always just want to fix everything!
Axel saysJune 27, 2016 at 3:54 pm
How does the audience tell the difference? It seems like most of the distinctions are internal. All I know is it’s possible to complain about too many complaints (I’ve done it).
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:25 am
Ive thought so much about your comment since I read it. I think for ME the difference is mannerisms (LISTENING TO RESPONSES versus NOT WANTING TO CHANGE MY SITUATION SO ARGUING BACK OR TUNING OTHERS OUT WHEN I COMPLAIN), word choice (MY COMPLAINING WORDS OOZE NEGATIVITY) and perhaps even body language and my tone of voice. My complaining DEFINITELY saps the other person’s energy and I think those are the reasons why!
Leigh Ann saysJune 27, 2016 at 6:04 pm
I love this. I vent about the latest parenting conundrum I’m in. I complain about the heat/the dishes/my weight. ?
dixya @food, pleasure, and health saysJune 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm
i vent/complain with people close to me when i need to let it all out. it really helps my thought process and also hearing their perspective because sometime i can see things only from my point of view.
Shannon @GirlsGotSole saysJune 27, 2016 at 8:24 pm
Yes! I used to be a big complainer. Always bitching about this or that and didn’t give two cents about the other side of the coin. Now, I’m more of a venter. I say what I want to say (which yes, can be a lot since I’m chatty), then I move on. So much better all around. 🙂
Also, I don’t feel so weighed down since there’s rarely complaining going on.
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:23 am
hmmm you also make a good point about the chatty. I am as well and I wonder if it is better for people who are talkative to shift to venting??
Lucie Palka saysJune 27, 2016 at 8:39 pm
I’ll admit to being both, a ventor and a complainer! Depends on the issue, and the recipient. My identical twin often gets my “vents” since she’s always there to listen! I
Carla saysJune 28, 2016 at 4:23 am
It DOES depend on the issue. And I think with those I WANNA COMPLAIN issues Im finally at the place where I write it out or talk it out…only to myself 🙂
Pam saysJune 28, 2016 at 3:02 pm
Carla, I don’t know you in person….but I can just hear you ‘venting’ to your new friend as you walk. I was thinking you’d need to find a person who’s willing to listen, which you obviously have, and then give you feedback: Possible solutions, ideas, concerns. But I have a feeling you work it all out for yourself. And that makes me smile.
I’d like to think I’m more of a venter, than a complainer, but who knows? I vent/complain to hubs, I vent/complain on my Blog, but mostly I babble. I’m pretty sure that sometimes hubs zones out on me, because later I will notice he has no clue we have already discussed that very thing that just came up again. I don’t blame him, I’d probably zone out on me and my babbling too.
I’m glad you have found a friend to vent to, for now hubs and the blog will have to suffice for me, as since I’ve retired, I no longer have that close friend, and honestly, feel no need for one.
Mel saysJuly 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm
I think this is true. Just make sure that it’s not just a one sided conversation where only one person gets to vent all their crap and the other person never gets to talk. Or if they do, there is no listening from the other party. I’ve quite often been on that end of things and it ends up making me feel used. I’ve started recognizing those people pretty quickly any more. They’re not worth my good listening ears 🙂
Suzi Hunn saysJuly 12, 2016 at 9:55 am
Isn’t it a freeing feeling, when we move from one to the other? Cheers!