Last week was intense. For some reason, I found myself discussing anger management--for both children and adults--with several people.
And one thing I heard, possibly five or six times, went something like this: "Maybe we can get him to go punch a pillow."
It wasn't surprising. You've probably heard it, too. And it makes decent sense. When you're angry, don't take it out on a person, take it out on a pillow. Or a punching bag. Or some other inanimate object that sits around all day just asking to be pummeled.
I suppose, if the choice is between hitting a person or hitting an inanimate object, smacking a pillow sounds pretty smart.
As an example, check out this clip from a golf invitational, which presents its "club throwing competition" to help players "get the anger out." This idea is everywhere, from movies like Anger Management and Analyze This to certain toys (that have now been discontinued by the manufacturer) that encourage people to choke the life out of a doll dressed up as a boss.
But does venting really dispel anger? Does letting it blow, getting it ALL out there, result in some sort of cathartic release, emptying you of your rage and leaving the rational you intact?
Research suggests ... nope. In fact, findings from lots of different studies indicate that the more you vent, the more prone to aggression you'll be. And yes, yes, of course you'll feel better shortly after you vent, but that might be because the normal progression of things is for intense emotions to disperse with time, no matter what you do. Saying that the venting itself CAUSES you to feel better might just be faulty logic.
Now, I'm not saying folks shouldn't express their anger. That can be healthy--but mostly if it comes with active, constructive problem-solving. Just screaming and yelling and punching and kicking without actually changing the circumstances is likely to lead to disappointing results.
So--are you a proponent of venting? Do pillows cringe as you walk by? What do you do to cope with anger and frustration? If you're a writer, you probably have your share of frustration, so what do you do with it?
Be sure to check out Lydia's Medical Monday post and Laura's Mental Health Monday post!