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Emotional Dumping versus Venting

Sometimes in my office, I have clients who apologize for unloading a lot of heavy emotions + experiences from their last week--or especially if this is their first session.

I get it, because we’ve been told messages in our society to “not be a burden” “to not be negative” “to not put too much onto other people or they will leave…”

This is all related to our core basic human needs to belong.

But we also have core basic human needs to be seen, heard, + feel safe.

When we don’t express ourselves, it festers in the body.

The body’s stress response becomes active in order to maintain the emotion that wants/needs to be expressed. Dr Gabor Mate’s research even identified that those with chronic pain/disease are often the nicest people. Not because they are good people, but because their level of suppression of what is authentic + alive in their bodies is so much that it disrupts the natural order of the body.

AKA we don’t listen to the body + eventually the body says no.

On the same note, when we continue to feed a stressful emotion to the point where we are in a heightened fight/flight mode for so long, the body also wears out.

Emotional dumping is spilling of emotional issues onto a person without being empathetic to THEIR emotional state. This is airing out negative, circular, obsessive thoughts that feed the emotion rather than relieve it. There is a disconnection to the other person + hyperfocus on the getting the distress out for someone else to hold. Typically this is a repetitive pattern.

Venting revolves around one singular topic that helps with stress release + often leads to a productive outcome or relief. This is mindfulness + connection to the other person who is holding space + still gives you the spaciousness to express + process.

We need to vent. We need to process. We need to be witnessed. We need to be understood.

I just invite a noticing, how are your mental/emotional boundaries:

Do you act as a dumper or receiver of the dump without attention to their/your care?

And do you allow yourself the spaciousness to process what you need to or do you suppress it to protect others + yourself from your own emotions?

Most of us spend a lot of energy to be understood. And of course, because to be understood means that we are more likely to get our needs met. It’s a threat to our survival + belonging if we are misunderstood to what it is we need or to belong.

Our fear of being misunderstood drives our body’s physiological reaction, activating our self-oriented stories + protective patterns of behaviors.

What do we do to receive approval?

As social creatures whose evolution was based on community belonging, rejection from the tribe could have meant our death. Fear of being abandoned, ostracized, ignored, not being seen/heard are still prominent in our systems today--even if the stakes are not quite as high.

Instead of shaming yourself for being “insecure” when you just want to be understood, or shunning another for being “needy”, or throwing away a relationship when there’s conflicting opinions---think of it instead through the compassionate lens of “We are all just wanting to be seen, understood, + belong.”

You’ll notice a visceral difference in your body, as the armor that protects you + the excess energy that’s expelled relaxes.

Only when we let go of the shame + blame can we actually start to look at the nuances that are occurring beneath + start the journey to coming back into authenticity.

Do you notice yourself telling these stories about yourself or another?

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