Article in brief: Theories say humans need to vent and express their emotions, however does science back those theories? If it does, what is the correct way of expressing emotions and who is the right person?
Ancient wisdom says that if a person talks about their emotions they will feel better. Through out history, we have seen this theory develop to what people nowadays call Psychiatry or Therapy. Another route taken more regularly is confining in a friend or finding a “Human Punching Bag”.
The “Human Punching Bag” theory doesn’t include punching a human being, but rather finding a person to express and label one’s emotions to. As a study has discovered, wording emotions or labeling them helps in decreasing the effect of that emotion.
Scientifically, when experiencing a negative emotion a part in the brain called the Amygdala brightens up, when that experience is labeled or put into words there is less of a reaction in the Amygdala region and more in the thinking in words about emotional experiences region, the right Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex.
Although expressing emotions is clearly more useful than not, it is not always easy to find someone to talk to or someone who would listen. The bigger risk in talking to someone who is not bound by law to not discuss your secrets is even greater.
When choosing a “Human Punching Bag” it is necessary to think about how open the receiver will be to listen, accept and not judge. It is also important not to force an unwilling person to listen. The “Human Punching Bag” should be a trustworthy person, but shouldn’t be expected to share the same emotion.
Also, the “Human Punching Bag” isn’t forced to listen to complaints all the time and isn’t there for dumping emotions on, he/she is someone who will be available and will listen when possible. The “Human Punching Bag” should never be attacked and should always be treated as a neutral party.
Expressing emotions isn’t easy, but being specific when talking about emotions helps, for example, instead of saying “I don’t feel ok” say “I feel upset about …” or “I am frustrated because…”. The more precise the emotion label is, the better the experience will be.
It is important to understand that expressing emotions whether to a “Human Punching Bag” or otherwise is not about dwelling on the negative experiences but about ‘letting it out’ in a positive way to the right audience at the right time.
- Human: any individual of the genus Homo
- Punching bag: a person on whom another person vents their anger
- Lieberman, Matthew. “What Happens When We Put Feelings into Words?.” What Happens When We Put Feelings into Words?. UCLA, 21 July 2007. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <lifesciences.ucla.edu/docs/lieberman.pdf>.
- Stewart, Laurie. Achieve Solutions, 20 May 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <https://www.achievesolutions.net/achievesolutions/en/Content.do?contentId=10388>.
With a background in communications, her passion for writing is driven by the need to voice her thoughts. Budoor also hold an eMBA in innovation and Entrepreneurship, other than writing, her interests include reading and traveling.