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We can all get upset at times but there are healthy ways to express frustration and anger. It is important, especially for empaths and sensitive people to be aware of the difference between venting and dumping as the later can beat down one’s positivity and self worth.
As a psychiatrist and empath myself I have a hard time tolerating loud noises. So for the sake of preservation I have a “no yelling” rule in my house. For sensitive people, a healthier way to express anger is through venting, whereas dumping is toxic and can traumatize and overwhelm us.
For instance, if your spouse wants to vent, ask him or her to make a formal request by saying, “I have a request. I need to vent about an issue. Is that okay to do now?” This gives you some warning so you’re not hijacked. Then, it’s your choice to discuss the issue right away or later when you have adequate time and feel more centered.
Here are some guidelines from my book, The Empath’s Survival Guide to follow when you or someone else is communicating anger.
Communication is vital when it comes to expressing anger or other intense emotions. Knowing the difference between venting and dumping is a positive start to having clarity in your relationships. If someone starts dumping on you, it’s fine to excuse yourself and tell them “I can talk to you when you are calmer.” Learning to protect yourself in this way, particularly if you are a sensitive person, is an important form of self-care.
Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.
2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Venting & Dumping”
My 42 year old daughter dumps on me when things don’t go her way and returns to victim mode, blaming everyone and anything. It is exhausting. I spent too many years propping her up with empathic listening and understanding but now I don’t want to be around her as I have recently had some health issues and feel that I need to remove myself and heal for a while. When I told her she was furious and has sent me angry emails, blaming me for abandoning her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her that I have walked on eggshells for years and I want to take personal responsibility for how I live my life and protect myself. I love my daughter and feel sorry for her that she has so little self-regulation but I have had enough and feel she must self reflect and learn her lessons by herself.
I do home visits for a living and sometimes my patients will dump on me. I never know what to say and it always drains me so much. I don’t feel it would be appropriate to say “I can talk to you when your calmer”. Or can I ?