Sometimes, people need to vent. That’s OK.
And it’s OK to listen, for a little bit.
It is an act of love to be that temporary rock of support for someone to lean against while they catch their breath, regain their composure and their strength.
But don’t let the person shove you off your mountain and go tumbling down to their level of experience.
If you’re the listening ear of a venting session, watch for the moment in the conversation when they’ve unloaded the burdens from their mind, and then they begin to repack it all in, picking the pieces back up, clinging to their hurt, hoarding their worry, fear, anger, and the myriad of other emotions and issues they carry as evidence to justify why they feel so badly.
At this juncture, they’ve derailed themselves from the cleansing process and are twisting more poison into their wounds. Respectfully decline to help them hurt more. You’ve done enough.
Now comes the next act of love:
Cut off the conversation, and stay connected within.
You have the strength and ability to stop them from spiraling. Do it!
You can be as direct or gentle as you feel is right, but be firm. You can try guiding the conversation to a new, more positive topic. Or, if you’re on the phone, inform the person that you have to go and are hanging up. Or if you’re together with them, just walk away for a while.
If they are hurt or angered by your actions, stay calm. Think of the situation as if you are an adult taking the higher road with your upset child. Let them have their tantrum and their tears. The less you give attention to and coddle them in their fit, the briefer that fit will be.
You are not obligated to join anyone’s pity party. To do so is to enable prolonged weakness and unnecessary pain.
Instead, choose to honor power and wellbeing, both yours and theirs. Stay in your positive place. When they’re ready, they’ll know where to find you. 😉