Complaining is not a new concept. Many people use it is a coping mechanism, others just want to get things off of their chest.  However, I’ve noticed that this habit of complaining has become more commonplace. Across social media I see users broadcasting their woes.

I, too, am guilty of this. Ask any of my friends, I am a chronic complainer. I find this phenomena particularly interesting though because I am not always distraught by my current predicament. Instead, I just feel the need to get all of my issues out there – especially when I am around people I am comfortable with.

Regardless of my complaints, I know that I am ultimately ok, and what I’m complaining about is usually resolvable. Nonetheless, this complaint culture is running rampant not only on social media though, but also in real life.

The word ‘complaining’ may have negative connotations, but as I mentioned before, sometimes it can be beneficial and stress-alleviating. The process of venting to someone close can be a positive experience for both the venter and the listener. However, when done improperly it can be a living nightmare for the person trying to clear their conscience.

In my own friend group I see a toxic behavior that is keeping us from properly venting to one another: plight one-upping.

One-upping is something that has constantly annoyed me – especially because it does not just happen during the venting process. However, it is especially troubling in this situation because you are at your most vulnerable.

Now, if you’re completely foreign to plight comparing, you’re probably a little lost. So, here is an example of what that may look like:

Imagine you are wanting to talk to someone about how you had a bad day at work.  It is a simple statement, but instead of your friend saying “I’m sorry,” they say, “You think that’s bad? I had to work a double today.”

If you’re familiar with this conversation then probably also know that this response is not healthy for you or the person listening. Consequently, it is important that you confront this behavior head-on.

It may not seem all that hurtful. After all, that person probably had a bad day too. However, when you’re already vulnerable and ready to vent, these kinds of words can be disheartening.

In awkward situations like these remember that your bad experience has not been invalidated. You are still entitled to your feelings, and you deserve the ability to vent.

So, instead of getting frustrated, or bottling up these feelings, try to combat this person’s toxicity. Although it is still crucial that you recall how you felt when your feelings were initially brushed off.

As a result, you mustn’t continue to one-up them – as this will only lead to more toxicity. Instead, try initiating a positive line of communication.

The key to healthy venting among friends requires two key components: a venter and a listener. So, when someone attempts to invalidate what you’re venting about, listen to their troubles and offer consolation.

At the end of the day, this other person wants their issues to be heard as well. Be sure you’re actively listening and reassuring them that they are strong enough to get through this.

Once you’ve set the example for how to vent, explain why your day was was particularly upsetting. If their one-upping continues, politely make them aware – sometimes they don’t even realize that their doing it.

After all, this culture of complaining is rampant. I think all of us want to broadcast our woes from time to time, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. As long as we are all actively listening and comforting one another, venting can truly be beneficial.

Ultimately, everyone’s life gets difficult. We live busy, fast-paced lives – things are bound to get messy. Above all, remember that everyone’s bad days are bad, and there is no use in comparing them.