Updated: Jul 11, 2022
We’ve all been there. That friend or partner that after them talking about their day, their week, life or month leave you feeling drained. Exhausted. Icky.
Welcome to emotional dumping!
What is emotional dumping?
It’s finger pointing talk such as ‘he said this and then he did that’. It’s rehashing the same stories over and over again. It’s exhausting to listen to and it’s actually exhausting to do.
If you are emotionally dumping you are constantly keeping your nervous system in a state of stress. Reliving emotions and stories around a particular experience, person or situation. With each new statement you are putting yourself into a continued state of stress.
And for the person listening to it? They can get lost in the story too, find their own nervous system stressed and overwhelmed and come away feeling agitated and tired.
So how do we talk to people if we need to talk? And how can we invite people to talk to us in a way that’s healthy for us to listen to but that isn’t going to wear us out?
If you want to talk to someone about a problem:
First off, ask the person you want to talk to if they are in the place emotionally to be the receiver of your woes. We cannot know how someone’s day has been, what troubles they may be having so asking them if they have space to listen is the first step.
Next, decide what do you want to do. Do you want advice or an opinion? If so, be prepared that you may not hear what you want to - are you ready to receive that? If not best to go for…
If you don’t want advice or an opinion, then let the other person know how you feel. So this is expressing how you felt about the situation. What your concerns are moving forward. How you would like things to be different. This type of approach is taking responsibility for your own part in the situation. It allows you to express your feelings and emotions which are always valid. This way of speaking allows you to have more self-responsibility and although you may not be looking necessarily for a solution, it feels more productive as you are working towards releasing emotions or exploring ways to move forward.
If someone wants to talk to you about a problem:
First of all check in with them what they want from the conversation, ‘would you like to talk about how you feel about this or are you looking for advice or an opinion?’
Once they have started speaking about the problem, before replying, check in again ‘would you like to talk about how you feel about this or are you looking for advice or an opinion?’
If they are asking to talk about how they feel, mirroring exercises and asking questions for them to explore their feelings is supportive. Questions such as ‘how does/did that make you feel?’ Get curious about their experience in a way that’s supportive in exploring their own story and experience around it rather than the gossip and details that just keep the person activated and stressed.
If they are looking for your advice or opinion, make sure that when you do offer it that they may completely disagree or not like it. And that’s OK. They are their own person and can choose from their own empowered place what the next step is. And honour that, even if you think it might be ‘wrong’ or a ‘mistake’. If someone has decided on something, there’s very little we can do to get them to change their mind so trusting them is important. If it doesn’t work out, next time they might choose to take your advice, or again, might not. That’s for them.
What about you? How are you listening and talking to people with whom you have relationships?
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.