When Venting Becomes Toxic


It’s been one of “those days.” It started out as the boys were getting ready for school. I had to remind one of them that today they would be paying the consequences for a poor decision he made the day before. There were tears, and yelling, and the silent treatment. After they left, I drove to work, where all the things that could have gone great…well, they didn’t.


I was frustrated. I was irritated. And I needed to vent to somebody.


Have you been there?


Venting is not a bad thing. You may have read other articles declaring that venting is a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad thing. But when pressure builds and builds, there has to be a healthy release, or an explosion is inevitable. Explosions- who wants those? They are messy and harmful.


Can venting be done in a healthy way?


Let’s talk about carbon monoxide for just a minute.  No, I’m not jumping the shark here. There’s a point – I promise. Hang with me…


Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is only one atom away from the harmless gas we exhale when we breathe, carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can’t be detected without special equipment. If you breathe it in, it enters your bloodstream and binds with your red blood cells, taking the exact place where oxygen molecules are supposed to attach. With their “spot” being taken, oxygen floats uselessly in your bloodstream, unable to be utilized. The result? Your cells slowly suffocate from lack of oxygen, and they begin dying.


The key, of course, is to avoid breathing in carbon monoxide. But sometimes carbon monoxide seeps into our living spaces. It must be vented from those spaces before it can become dangerous. Here’s where it gets interesting.


When you vent carbon monoxide horizontally, the poison simply spreads through a wider area, creating a bigger problem with a much larger potential for harm. But when it is vented vertically, it can be effectively dealt with before becoming destructive.


So let’s take it back to the idea of venting our frustration.


Vent vertically.


Vent to someone who can help relieve your frustrations; someone who can help prevent further build-up.


Don’t vent to those beside you. They likely don’t have the ability to change your situation, and in the process you may be poisoning them with your attitude and assumptions.


Don’t allow your venting to become toxic.


(Want more? Read about avoiding a toxic soul.)


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