Weathering our storms

Yesterday was not a good day if we’re judging by mood. I woke up cranky. Everything was annoying. Even my walk didn’t make the difference that it usually does. I was just in a dark and foul mood. I was dealing with some heavy baggage from my past. I didn’t realize it until later in the day. The good thing was, that mostly I was on my own for the day and so had the time and space to go through it. I also had a great friend who called later in the day just sensing I was not in a good place. She was able to sit with me, albeit by phone, as I made my way through the storm and back to a safe harbor. She asked great questions that made me soul surf to find the source of what I was feeling. She doesn’t know it, but she’s my life coach. (Lucky me, she’s also my sister).

She did not try to make the bad mood go away with platitudes. She didn’t try to make me see all that I have to be grateful for. She did not try to steer me towards sunshine, rainbows and roses. Did you ever notice that those tactics just intensify what you’re already feeling? That is because they are dismissive. Inherently we know we are feeling an emotion for a reason. We truly want to work through it because that is the secret to “getting over it”.

What was done for me was extraordinarily therapeutic. She let me go through the bad mood. She gave me space to explore the whole thing. What an absolute gift it was. I did get to the bottom of it. I came out the other side feeling a great weight lifted off of my soul. She did for me, what I do for everyone else. I slept really well last night and this morning I woke up in a peaceful place. Thank goodness!

Bad moods happen. Anyone who says they don’t have a bad mood now and again I will call B.S. on. The reason people won’t admit to bad moods is, they are not acceptable. Mmm-hmm, I said it. We don’t like bad moods. First of all they don’t feel good to the person going through it. Second, they don’t feel good to anyone witnessing it, or on the receiving end of it. That is a big problem.

Bad moods, anger, sadness, grief, crankiness, however we want to term the corresponding emotions, are uncomfortable to say the least. They don’t feel, look or sound good. We’ve been taught to hide that from the world. We don’t want to feel them and neither does anyone else. The question is why are bad moods such a taboo issue? Why do we think only happiness and smiles are acceptable? Britton Peters, a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington shared that we are “scared of negative feelings because as a society we see these emotions as weak, as making us open to hurt or betrayal from others“. 

We’ve been teaching each other for generations that we are strong when we don’t show those bad emotions. “Walk it off”, “suck it up”, “big boys don’t cry”, “get over it” are just some of the phrases we use. They are demeaning to the person experiencing that emotion. They reinforce the idea that only happiness is a worthy emotion.

I hate to break it to you all, but we are human and all emotions are part of that experience. What we deem as negative emotions are actually a healthy part of the human experience. There is now growing evidence that negative moods, like sadness, have psychological benefits. One research project showed subjects film clips depicting different emotions. After the subjects watched those clips they were tested on cognitive and behavioral tasks. What was found was that those then experiencing a “bad mood” experienced the benefits of better memory, more accurate judgement, more motivation, improved communication and increased fairness. This doesn’t mean we should walk around in a bad mood all the time. It simply indicates that those negative moods actually have healthy benefits for us.

It is time we stop worshipping at the shrine of perpetual happiness. First of all, we just cannot maintain that level of happy with out doing harm to ourselves. Not allowing ourselves to feel these emotions has both short and long-term affects on our health and well-being. “Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body says provisional clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt. “We know that it can affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem.” The long-term affects have been shown to include diabetes and heart disease as well as a 70% increase in risk of a cancer diagnosis. Those are some pretty serious risks to be taking with our health.

Let’s start giving each other the space to feel again. Even better, sit with someone while they go through it. Take the time to just listen. You don’t need to solve their problem. Chances are, they have the answer and will find it as they go through feeling what they feel. If they need help, they’ll ask for it. It may take us all a little time to build trust in each others ability to listen and render aid when asked for. But what a better place we will all be living in when we can help each other weather the storms and return to our safe harbors.

  • If you are experiencing prolonged bouts of sadness you may well be dealing with depression. It is time to reach out to a professional who can help you charter those challenging and sometimes dangerous waters. The following link is a place to start in finding a professional to talk with https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists. (I receive no compensation for sharing this website)
  • If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Please click on the following line https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/ or call directly: 800-273-8255
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