Name calling, "safe places", and venting

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Name calling, "safe places", and venting
« on: January 14, 2017, 08:37:14 PM »
In recent months, there’s been a distinct uptick in angry name calling, followed by complaints [and members deleting their accounts without further discussion] when we feel the need to remind members of our guidelines.  While we all understand that anger is to be expected, that new members particularly are frustrated and relieved they’ve finally found people who understand, that the interactions with PD individuals can be at best challenging - this is still a heavily moderated board by design.  We all agreed to abide by those guidelines when we became members here. 

While OotF is our “safe place” [for lack of a better word] to talk about very painful situations and seek understanding as we search for ways to work through them, that doesn’t remove the need for boundaries or that we cease to respect each other with our choice of words.  This is simply where others truly understand, often when there is no one in our day to day lives in whom we can confide. 

We must learn to be accountable for our own behavior and learn better coping mechanisms going forward or we’ll just stayed mired in the drama and ugliness of it all.  There has yet to be any interaction that was improved by yelling or name calling, belittling or stepping all over others, whether here or out in the real world.  About the time any of that begins, one person or the other checks out and any possibility of understanding or compassion pretty much walks out the door – as it should. 

Many, if not most of us, have been the recipients of just that kind of behavior:  being yelled at, cursed at, called names, threatened, treated like we’re nothing, etc.  And yet members continue to insist on being allowed to further that behavior here, saying that people with PD deserve no better.  We are concerned with ALL humanity here at Out of the FOG, not just the ones with whom we agree.  Just because we have been abused does not make it okay for us in turn to abuse others – we have to learn a better way, lest we become what brought us here.

A few questions that have been raised, and our heartfelt responses:

Q:  Why can't I call someone a name like nutjob or bastard? It's just a word.

A:  We all work through many stages of anger, depression, grief on our road to recovery from the abuses we have experienced.  Sticking a demeaning or offensive name on people, lowering ourselves to that level, makes us no better and no more recovered than the very people who have hurt us so badly. 

It may be “just a word” but I’d bet money you’ve been called the same or worse.  Think about how that felt - did it help you?  Was it kind?  Did it serve any useful purpose or help you understand?  What does nutjob or [insert random label here] mean anyway??  It’s far more productive and helpful to describe the *behavior* instead, talk about what happened and how it made you feel, actually work through those very ugly emotions.  The latter option will give you different perspectives you’d never considered, and help you find a way to move forward while erasing that ugliness from your mind.  People who are simply reading will in turn benefit from the same discussion.

Q:  Why can't I talk about all the nasty things I'd like to see happen to the PD in my life?
A:  Why would you want to do that, really??  Wouldn’t you rather find peace and wish the same for others?  Wishing ill on someone else is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to get sick – it’s still your stuff, and it’s keeping you engaged in drama and negativity that you’ve already had more than enough of.  We very much understand the hurt, the anger, the frustration – but why further it by internalizing it and wishing more of it on the world?

Q:  Well, I've seen other people call PDs nasty names. Why can't I do it?
A:  If you’ve seen name calling on the board, that means we’ve not seen it.  The moderators are volunteers who can’t possibly read every post in every thread in every forum here.  We depend on members to self-police, if you will, and let us know when something is questionable [if not downright objectionable]. 

We do ask that you not engage another member directly, but make use of the handy dandy “report to moderators” feature at the bottom of the post in question as soon as you read it.  We’re notified of every report, discuss how best to handle the offense, and then act accordingly.  Know that we act as a group – if something you write is moderated, please don’t take it personally.  We’re doing our jobs:  managing the board and keeping the peace, while navigating the same waters you are.

Q:  I don't care if PDs get their feelings hurt.  Isn't this just a place to vent?
A:  Yes – and no.  As someone put it earlier today, “Venting when it is used as a tool to self-reflect and work toward change is valid and healthy; venting to complain and dump negative emotions is a flea.”

Coming here with the presumed intent of “venting” doesn’t always have the effect we’d hope for – a vent post very quickly devolves into ugliness that the moderators must try and manage as the reports and complaints start.  It flows out of one post and right into the next, with some one-upmanship and attacks on other members for daring to disagree.  People are deeply triggered – and understandably so – when this happens. 

A few years ago, Eclipse wrote the following in response to a member requesting a “vent” board and the subject of venting: 

The idea of a venting board was actually tried about 10 years ago at the previous incarnation of OOTF which was called "The Nook". The new board was called "Ranting and Raving." It only lasted about a month though before it was shut down because the moderators found that the amount of anger being expressed on all the boards - not just the "Ranting and Raving" board - suddenly started to rise exponentially creating a ton of extra work for the moderators to try to contain it.

We've got a section of our posting guidelines called "Dealing with anger" that has rules about what is OK to say/not say here for a similar reason - it's amazing how quickly a thread changes tone after a poster calls their significant other a jackass.  If the mods don't catch it within a couple of hours there will be half a dozen other posters using even less attractive terms in the same thread and within a day or two there will be multiple threads peppered with name calling. It quickly becomes a slippery slope and a huge job for the mods who have to decide "if we allowed Joe to say this don't we have to allow Jane to say that?"  It's far easier just to say "no name-calling."

There's also been quite a bit of psychological research done over the past few years on the subject of whether venting anger is a good or a bad idea which is really interesting. Most of the research says that expressing anger feels good at the time and gives you a catharsis but - sigh - it also gently lowers the threshold for feeling angry next time - a bit like the way a beaten path slowly forms in the grass after you walk over it enough times - eventually that path becomes "the way.”

Turns out our brains work the same way - developing new connections every time we choose to think, speak or act in a certain way in response to a situation. Each time I vent - even in a safe place like this - I reinforce the habit and increase the likelihood I will feel angry and potentially vent in a not-so-safe place later. The path forms a whole lot faster if lots of people walk on it with you - hence a board called "venting" becomes a catalyst for anger - that probably explains why the "Ranting and Raving" board became a problem so quickly.

On the other hand, research also shows there is a ton of good in accurately describing a situation you are in and how that makes you feel and combining that with talk about healthy, constructive choices you can make in response to a situation that initially makes you feel angry. Talking or writing about what you feel and connecting it to healthy responses takes more mental effort - a bit like trying to start a new beaten path in the long grass at first. If you do it enough times eventually there's a new path where you want to go and like magic the grass starts to grow over the old venting path. Eventually it's just easier not to vent.

So please do use our board to describe how you feel - that's what we're here for - and describe what has happened to you - that's reality. And also talk about healthy responses to unhealthy situations - that's the magic. We are all survivors here and we share a unique understanding. There is no distinction here between "major" and "mild" abuse. It all feels the same. If someone treats you nicely 99% of the time and treats you horribly 1% of the time you feel lousy 100% of the time. People here understand that. We want to validate you when you feel that and we also want you to find a way to "let it go" just like you said.

Lots of the old timers here (myself included) were full of pain and confusion and hot with anger when we first arrived here.  After a long time and a lot of validation from dear friends here and also after making some good decisions it just doesn't get me angry very much anymore - it just is what it is. I hope a few years from now you can say the same thing to a newbie here.

There are some good books on the subject of "Emotional Intelligence" or you can Google "Is Venting good for you" if you're interested.

Remember finally that we’re not all going to agree all the time – and wouldn’t it be a boring world if we did?  We learn more by being challenged on old habitual thought processes that aren’t working than we ever have being allowed to just wallow in our misery.  It’s okay to disagree, please just remember that we don’t have to be disagreeable in the process.

Please read or reread the board guidelines Guidelines, and make them your friend.  If you have questions or concerns, let us know so we can address it.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 09:29:17 PM by Spring Butterfly »