If you’re someone that likes to vent and offload I think it’s important to be mindful.
Think about things such as:
How many times have I vented to this person about the same issue?
Has anything changed or am I just repeating the same thing over and over again?
Do I want help solving this or just someone to sit and listen?
The answer to those questions might make you realise that you should spend more time solving your problems than you do talking about them. Your answer might also inspire you to ask before you vent instead of dumping on someone and apologising after.
As much as I think it’s totally fine to want someone to just listen without trying to offer advice, I also think that people have the right no not want to hear you talk about your problems, especially when you’ve gotten into the habit of carelessly dumping on someone over and over again.
When you’re used to something, you can end up creating situations in your life where you get more of it, even when it’s not helpful.
I recently had a conversation about a problem. From my perspective it was fairly easy to solve. From the perspective of the person I was with it was something challenging, the sort of thing to go back and forth and around and around about without actually finding a solution.
An easy way to work through solving your problems is to establish where you’re at and where you want to be. Then, fill in the gaps. What can you do to get to where you want to be?
But we sometimes end up making things difficult for ourselves. We get so wrapped up in the problem that we’re not even really trying to solve it. We’re not stuck because we can’t solve the problem, we’re stuck because we’re addicted to limbo.
This is why you can sit and talk with someone who is upset or frustrated and even when they ask for your advice and you offer it. They just go right back to the problem.
And the thing is, it gets boring and even exhausting to listen to after a while. Nobody wants to sit and listen to someone complain about something they aren’t even trying to change.
It might seem that right now there is little that you can do but revert to your old ways. If you’ve learnt self observation then perhaps you’re used to your patterns of behaviour.
Perhaps you can clearly map out and identify your old ways. And if you can do that then you can also choose a different action. If you’d normally say yes, say no. If you’d normally offer patience maybe try being a little less considerate.
I think too often we fall into this rigid idea of self as though there is something wrong with consciously experimenting with who we are. For example, you could be someone who always listens to people vent despite the fact that it leaves you feeling drained because you think it makes you a good friend.
Instead you could try something different such as saying, ‘I know you’re going through this frustrating situation but I don’t have the space to listen to you vent at the moment.‘
And it always feels weird the first time simply because it’s new, not as an indication of it being the wrong thing to do.
Then, overtime you might find that you prefer your new way of doing things and you can put your old ways aside.
If you don’t think you’re good enough that belief will have a major impact on how you experience life.
You’ll have a hard time identifying when you’re being treated poorly because you have such low standards for yourself. This could be with a friend, romantic partner, family member, colleague or even a stranger.
Perhaps someone is unkind to you and instead of speaking up you sit and internalise it. You find yourself almost justifying it with things like ‘it’s not that bad’, ‘they probably didn’t mean anything by it’ or ‘at least they didn’t…’. Your sense of self is so low that you’re willing to accept below the bare minimum.
This can be an awful thing to experience and can result in mental health problems like anxiety or depression. However, it can also serve as a catalyst for change. You’ll reach a point where you can no longer accept the way that you’re being treated because it feels like a betrayal. When you realise that you shouldn’t be okay with people doing things like ignore you, lie to you and overlook you, you’ll be much less willing to accept it.
Suddenly, the awareness you’ve gained has given you the opprtunity to live a very different life that you didn’t even know was available to you.
It could mean ending friendships, resigning from your job, having conversations that feel difficult, settling firm boundaries, saying no and learning to stand up for yourself.
That might seem daunting but if you focus on the fact that life will be a easier to navigate when you think better of yourself, that should at least give you the motivation to get started.
It’s important to pay attention to when things change. Doing this avoids being in a situation where you’re pushing on towards something you may no longer be interested in.
And the more you keep going the further you’ll find yourself from where you’d probably rather be.
Sometimes the way it goes is that we simply just don’t realise in the moment when the change happens. However, things like a regular life audit, journaling or any other kind of reflection are all great tools to make you more aware of what’s happening and how you feel.
Sometimes taking the time to understand yourself can help you start to understand others.
In particular when it comes to interactions and exchanges not turning out how you’d hoped or think they should. The disclaimer for what is to follow is that of course you don’t need to internalise and understand someone treating you poorly. This is more about having unrealistic expectations based on a false perception of reality.
If you find yourself caught up in thinking about the way a person should have acted in a situation or what they should have said, question it, where are the expectations coming from.
You may find that you’re so focused on the way that things should be, that you’re missing on what is actually happening.
An example could be that someone didn’t ask for your advice on something you had spoken to them about. Your initial reaction may be to feel hurt or annoyed because you feel like they should have spoken to you. But as important as it is to acknowledge your feelings, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings of others.
Ask yourself, why would this person not come to me? It could simply be that they went to someone else instead but you have a habit of berating their choices or trying to make them do what you think is best rather than trust their own judgment.
It’s so easy to just look at things on the surface and get annoyed at the other person but making a little time for introspection might help you see things differently.
Then you can decide how or if you want to change. For example, you could decide to work on telling people what you think is best without pressuring them to do what you think is right.
On the other hand, you could decide to do nothing at all, to stay just as you are. But you can’t continue to get annoyed at people when the problem is you.
And it’s not about getting caught in a spiral of blame, it’s about being aware of your interactions with other people and then figuring out how you can improve them.
There could be habits you have that you have carried with you thorough your life for so long that you aren’t even aware the impact they have on your life.
Perhaps, you assume that those habits are ‘just the way you are’ rather than them being something you could change.
Sticking with what you know is easy, comfortable and familiar even when it negatively impacts your life.
And so you do nothing.
That’s why I’m such an advocate for regular reflection. In doing so you’re able to identify the habits you currently have and understand how they impact your life. It could be something like you always wanting to be right because you believe that you know more than most.
This may result in people not wanting to engage in conversations with you because you’re now seen as closed minded, someone that is not open to other points of view. In turn maybe you’re unable to develop close relationships because your desire to always be right pushes people away as they don’t feel respected and they find you frustrating.
Identifying that bad habit and deciding to let it go could be the catalyst to solve many of the problems that you regularly encounter.
Of course, it rarely feels good to know that you’re the problem as it forces you to take responsibility instead of the playing the blame game. But in the grand scheme of things perhaps it is much better to know that the problem begins with you and your bad habits because that way you know that the problems can end with you too.
Robin Hood is infamously known as the one who ‘steals from the rich to give to the poor.’
He is an interesting character because he forces us to see things from a different point of view.
If asked, we would probably all say that stealing is wrong but would consider it less wrong if it was for the sake of those less fortunate.
And so we don’t consider Robin Hood to be a ‘bad person’. He’s someone who does a bad thing thing for a good reason.
What would happen if we extended that level of awareness to people in real life, not to accept or encourage ‘bad’ behaviour but to simply acknowledge that we understand.
When it comes to getting swept up in the future it’s easy to get caught up in the worst case scenario. But it’s also easy to get caught up in the ideal scenario.
However, more often than not neither of them come true.
The outcome ends up being what I’d call the most likely scenario, something fairly ordinary. It could be good but not great or alright instead of terrible.
But there’s nothing wrong with that sort of outcome, infact most choices or actions that make up our days have those kinds of ‘normal’ outcomes.
And so I think the reason that we’re so drawn to getting swept up in the extremes of the worst case and the ideal is because we unknowingly enjoy it.
When you think about the days that have passed and the days that are to come, does it all roll into one?
Does today feel like yesterday?
Will tomorrow be different to today?
Sometimes, without you even realising you’ll find your life has become a blur of sameness. You do the same thing each day with little conscious awareness.
By the time it gets to Friday, if someone asked you to recall your week all the days blur into one because there is little to differentiate them.
When life gets this way, it helps to give yourself a little time each day to be more mindful about how you’re spending your time.