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How Do You Treat People When You’re in a Bad Mood?

How often do you get in a bad mood? Every week? Every day? Every few hours?

What do your bad moods look like? Do you take it out on the people around you? Do you retreat into yourself? Do you punish your furniture or punch walls? Or do you paint pictures of Donald Trump with your menses?

Everyone gets into bad moods. It seems like an unavoidable aspect of the human condition. We can’t have happiness without moments of darkness. We all feel waves of pessimism, and ironically, our own thoughts are often the cause of the turmoil.

Most problems we have are not the external interference of someone intentionally fucking with you. The majority of our personal suffering we put on ourselves by being upset over things we have little control over. We thus end up spending a huge part of our lives managing this self-induced pain.

But here is the problem with being in a bad mood. NO ONE LIKES TO BE AROUND SOMEONE WHO’S IN A BAD MOOD!

Negativity is more contagious than a strand of herpes infested Ebola virus mixed with measles. When you are around someone who is complaining, wallowing, or finding the fault in everything – it is hard not to sink into the pit of despair with them. Bad moods are the quick sand of the emotional spectrum, and most people will run the other direction so as not to get sucked in.

So the question then becomes, what do you do with yourself when you are in a bad mood? If you don’t honor your feelings, they tend to fester and breed. That energy has to be expelled somehow, because denial only delays the inevitable breakdown. The ideal would be to notice your bad moods, but allow them to float through you without attachment. Just let them pass like gas! Yet that can be really hard if you are not a Buddhist monk spending your life meditating in the forest!

When you live with a kid, their moods are in a constant state of chaos. They can get angry about something as simple as having too many raisins in their granola. Which although is maddening, is not a reason to throw yourself on the floor and weep as if you just ate your cat by accident.

When Munch is in a bad mood, she also happens to be a total asshole. It is hard to be empathetic to her anguish when I also think she is being a dick. I don’t want Munch to feel like there isn’t space to be her authentic expressive self; but I also don’t want to be an emotional punching bag in the process.

Toni: Listen, Munch. I totally understand that life can be frustrating, and sometimes you get in a bad mood. I am never asking you not to feel your feelings. But I am asking you to start thinking how you treat people when you are angry inside. If you are in a bad mood, is it possible for you to also be kind?

The Munch was quiet for a moment while she took this suggestion in. Then she looked at me as if she totally understood what I was saying, then dramatically threw her head back.

Munch: BUT IT’S SO HARD!!!!!

Exactly Munch…

(This was her first day of school… and boy was she in a bad mood!)

first day of school

2 Responses to How Do You Treat People When You’re in a Bad Mood?

  1. Laszlo Nagy says:

    This is so wise and applies to all age groups. It is amazing to me how in your life you get to experience the full bandwidth of the human emotional experience from all age groups including the age group that I am in, which I take to be a somewhat hybrid entity, somewhat akin to yours in its empathetic capacities and yet oddly quite removed from your direct and deep engagement in the full spectrum of the banquet that is human experience in its rawest totality. Might I submit that this piece here is the calming balm that has put an end to my own day of fearful anxiety, although I would have to include within this roster of compliments our mother as well. To say that I am feeling somewhat sheepish at the moment would be among one of life’s greater understatements.

  2. Olga Davidson says:

    Ah yes. Well put. Nothing is worse than being around someone who is perpetually in a bad mood. Usually they are unhappy and don’t know what to do about it. There is a lot to be said about taking a few deep breaths, taking a walk or taking a bath but that only alleviates with the immediate. Dealing with frustration is another thing. There one applies patience and strategy and that can be taught but it’s not easy. You are very right to teach Munchie not to forget herself if she is in a bad mood.

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