Conventional “wisdom” maintains that it’s important to vent in order to keep ourselves from emotionally exploding at a later point. What if I were to tell you that maybe, for greater happiness and clarity of mind, it’s better to just put it in the vault and forget about it?
Let me explain where this is coming from. Back in January, I shared with you what I consider to be one of the keys for greater happiness and emotional resilience. That is to control our thoughts and keep them from going to negative places. I don’t know if you have tried this out, but if you do, and you get somewhat good at it, you will find an incredible sense of freedom because your thoughts have an effect on your emotions. Think happy thoughts and you’ll have happy, peaceful feelings--no matter what is going on around you. The reverse is also true, as we all know too well. For example, you can be on vacation on a gorgeous Caribbean island, but if your mind is stuck on a problem at work, you can barely enjoy the break. When you consider how powerful this is, it’s no surprise that everyone from Buddhists to Eckhart Tolle insist on conquering the mind and remaining present in order to achieve greater inner peace and happiness.
This idea of putting it in the vault is an extension of this concept.
When something bugs us, our default is to want to talk about it. Whether it’s a friend, colleague, parent or spouse, we look for relief by recounting the situation and the thoughts and feelings it brought out in us.
However, a few things happen when we do this. First, we bring the issue right into our present moment where it doesn’t need to exist. And when you stop to think about this, this sucks as it is essentially inviting the person or issue that annoyed you into one of your safe spaces. This idea, which Eckhart Tolle goes into at length in The Power of Now, crystalized for me after having a huge fight with a family member. A few hours after the fight took place, I was in my kitchen getting dinner ready with my husband and kids. I considered telling my husband all about it since the fight actually hurt my heart and I felt achy. Then, I looked at him smiling and my kids laughing and thought: Why? Why would I bring that ugly moment, that is thankfully in the past, into this evening?
The second thing that happens is that by inviting that past moment into our present, we relive it and reconnect with all of those emotions. Essentially, we are sucking ourselves back into the place the experience pulled us into. So, not only is it coloring another moment in our lives and spreading those feelings to the people around us, but we are further tying ourselves to the vortex of the experience.
Third, by recounting the experience, we not only drag it into the present moment, spread it to those around us and reconnect with the feelings, we also invite those around us to potentially make it worse. Why? Because at best, they are likely to become defensive for us, so they also get worked up and add their feelings to the situation. At worse, by recounting our incident, we may awaken discordant feelings within them that lie beneath the surface. Our experience may trigger them and lead them to add their emotional charge onto ours. The next thing we know, we actually feel more upset and more injured.
Fourth, by sharing the experience with others, we are coloring their perspective of the issue that made us upset. Down the road, we may be ready to let the feelings go, but our loved ones will likely continue looking at the issue through that lens, and remind us of it. It’s not that they are being mean. They are simply taking on the perspective we asked them to take. This keeps us locked into a position we do not want to maintain.
So, what do we do instead? And how exactly do we put something in the vault?
Here is what I do: I take all the energy generated from the experience and do my very best to infuse it with peace and forgiveness. I do this by talking to myself about why it’s better to let it go and by generating within me a feeling compassion for the entities involved. Next, if I can take a particular action to remedy the situation, for example, establish boundaries around the situation, I shift my focus to doing this. Being proactive about remedying the issue is so empowering! It completely pivots my feelings on the matter. Then, I forbid myself from talking about it for at least 24 hours. If after 24 hours, the issue is still bothering me, I allow myself to talk about it to someone.
What’s interesting, what may surprise you as well, is that I often forget what I wanted to vent about! Or I am so focused on infusing the situation with peace and looking for a solution that I feel too good to want to rehash the cause of the discord.
Give this a try and let me know how it works out for you. I can be reached at Laura@LoveYourBodyBoutique.com. I hope this idea of “putting it in the vault” is as freeing for you as it has been for me!