The other day a female client told me about her husband’s ranting and raving over what seemed like nothing and then again it was something. His work was demanding more and more, he did not like his boss or the people he worked with, the house needed some repairs, his health was deteriorating, he got a stomach ache from his last meal, the dog wanted too much attention, and several other large and small complaints. His ranting and raving lasted well over several hours and resolved absolutely nothing. At the end, she was exhausted, frustrated, hurt and desperately wanted to help him but had no idea where to begin.
Sound familiar? Maybe it is a your spouse who routinely rants and raves over what seems like nothing but usually is something. Their ranting and raving does not seem to resolve anything in the moment and by the time it ends they feel better and you feel worse. It is as if they unloaded their garbage onto you but you did not get a chance to unload and if you do try to unload during their ranting and raving, you have just added about an extra hour onto the discussion. The rants and raves are not once a year incidents, rather they are almost monthly and if they don’t do a little ranting and raving, the next one is likely to be twice as long.
For some people they type of relationship is likely to cause them to run away, they would rather not invest the time and energy into such a relationship. But for others, the benefits of the relationship far out way the monthly rants and raves, so they decide that the relationship adds more value to their life than it subtracts and they stay. This is the case for my client; she truly loves her husband, is committed to the relationship and wants to help but is unsure how.
It’s not your responsibility. Their rants and raves are their responsibility not yours. This is extremely difficult to remember in the moment as the ranter and raver is likely to blame you for some if not all of the problem. Once you look back over the course of your relationship, you will realize that even if you did change something that was not enough to stop their ranting and raving. It almost seems as if they have an insatiable appetite for ranting and raving and if it is not this than it is that. Their reaction is their responsibility; your reaction is your responsibility.
Change your expectations. During the ranting and raving you try to help the situation by offering advice, compassion or accepting responsibility for your mistakes, yet none of their efforts seem to reduce the ranting and raving. In fact, they seem to bring about even more and different ranting and raving. If you want to offer encouragement, do. Just don’t expect a return on your investment. Decreasing your expectations is not giving up rather it is recognizing that you are not in charge of their ranting and raving, they are.
Look for the nugget of truth. Ranters and ravers are not mindless people without intelligent thought rather they are people who have been pushed to their limit and they usually do have a valid point. The key is to find the nugget of truth in their ranting and raving and focus on that. For instance, they may be upset about your financial situation and declare that overspending on everything needs to stop. Well, if you are overspending on something, maybe it is the groceries, then work on modifying that behavior. Don’t try to change everything all at once because it just does not work. Instead focus on changing one behavior at a time. Find one nugget and work on changing it. Leave the other nuggets for another day.
Try praying. Ok, this is tricky because the type of prayer is extremely important. More than likely, after the ranting and raving is over, you are in pain and feel a heavy burden. So don’t pray that the person ranting and raving will hurt like you or that God will take revenge on them. Rather pray to release the negative energy onto God so that you won’t release the negative energy on someone else. Ranting and raving is like an infectious disease that can affect an entire community. Decide to end the cycle, pray, release, let go and if needed forgive the other person for hurting you. This will do far more good and will prevent the disease from spreading.
Get busy. When someone rants and raves the temptation is to replay the ranting and raving over and over in your head. We try to see where we went wrong, what we could have said instead to make a difference or how we could have stopped the cycle. This is a waste of valuable energy, instead, get busy doing what you need to do and put all thoughts of the incident out of your head. At first this discipline is difficult but with practice it becomes easier. You are what you think and if you continue to replay the negative thoughts, you will be negative in turn. You can choose to do something different and getting busy is more productive then stewing.
Ranter and ravers are not without their responsibility in the problem but you cannot fix them, they need to choose to fix themselves. Rather you can choose to do different behaviors, to think different thoughts, to absorb different emotions, after all you actually have more choice in the situation then the other person. Your positive reactions over time will make a difference in your life and hopefully the other person will want the same change in their life. Then and only then do you have the potential for a lasting solution.