Have you ever noticed how emotional social media posts are? Here is a selection of words and phrases I found in a range of recent tweets and other posts:

  • It makes me mad that…
  • This is so irritating…
  • It’s offensive to say…
  • X is obviously very selfish…

Much has been written in recent times about the victims of trolls and the tragic effects that can result from this type of bullying, but did you know that people venting in this way can damage their own psychological and physical health? There is significant evidence that people plugging into their negative emotions such as frustration (eg Cameron and Lavine, 2006) affects a range of measures such as productivity, ability to cope and even antibody count.

I know that people believe that venting is good for them and this is largely a hangover from the teachings of one Sigmund Freud who called it “catharsis”. In the neuroscience age we now know that if you exercise the use of any part of the brain you simply make it stronger and more active.  So, venting makes you better at being angry and frustrated.  Yippee.

Sadly people who read all this online negativity also damage their resilience by virtue of the phenomenon of emotional contagion. Treating your negative emotions as though they are immutable facts is a bad idea.  In fact it is the opposite of mindfulness, which has been shown to be a big mental health booster.

Did you know that some people are naturally more resilient than others? Click here to find out how you can identify this characteristic in potential hires.

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Cameron, K.S. and Lavine, M. (2006) Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance—The Rocky Flats Story. San Francisco: Berrett Koehler

Andrew Marty
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