venus flytrap

Catharsis – the release of frustration or a dangerous trap?

Catharsis is that feeling of relief, the process of releasing strong emotions, like frustration or anger, and letting go. Have a rant about something that’s been bothering you, shout at the trees, or whinge to your friends about work, it helps you emotionally, it’s cathartic.

But… how many times have you complained about something you’ve complained about before? At least once a month, right?

This is the trap. Catharsis is a trick, a pitfall – you definitely feel better, but only until the problem happens again, nothing has actually changed for the better.

Catharsis is treacherous,
it makes promises it can’t keep.

me, just now

So what should we do?
Complain to people who can, and will, make a difference.

We’re often taught that complaining is rude or childish or pointless, but wouldn’t it better to actively address the causes of complaints?
A complaint is an opportunity for improvement. A complaint may in fact just be down to a misunderstanding, or it may have an easy solution, but we won’t know unless we complain. The squeaky wheel gets the oil – a fact of life amongst humans.

Catharsis permits, even promotes, stagnation.

Jez McKean, 2021

If you want progress, don’t accept catharsis, do complain (to the right people), and make the change you want to see actually happen.


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