This entry isn’t a blatant call to action to see a therapist, but I do want to talk about the good that can come from sharing our feelings with trusted, safe people in our lives. We often use the term catharsis to describe the benefits from exposing the feelings related to a great trauma, but catharsis also exists when we share minor issues that are bugging us.
We don’t need to wait until we store up a great lot of worry and negativity before we share with another person. Sharing can happen immediately. We don’t do it as often as we might because we don’t want to intrude on other people. We feel like we might be taking advantage in some way. That’s why this is called “sharing”—when we share, as opposed to venting, we offer our own time to hear the other person out about an issue as well. It’s a mutual trade off, in order to help ourselves adapt better, make decisions, or simply drain away some anxiety.
It’s important we realize this more than “just” venting. Sharing a negative experience or feeling can take anxiety provoking emotion and attach safety to it—the trusted person and environment—and rationality, by putting into words, and thus ordering our feelings. In a way this is re-conditioning worry and anxiety by taking the power out of it. That’s very useful, especially for low level but chronic anxiety and fears. It’s a bit like hearing something go bump in the night. Turning on the light might illuminate a horribly scary monster, but it’s more likely to be something very minor, very small, but persistent. A mouse scratching in the walls is annoying, but if we think it’s a horrid creature from hades come to steal our souls, it’s fear elevated to near terror.
Talking out disturbing issues with trusted people helps shed some light on issues that can be safely deflated before they get too big.