“And some days life is just hard. There are days that can just be hard. Some days are just too difficult to bear before you can move on. And all of that is okay.” ~Unknown
Low moods have been a problem for me since childhood. This could possibly be considered progress, considering I was depressed and inactive for nearly twenty years. But that still didn’t feel good enough.
I wanted to feel more balanced, light, and happy, and I wanted to achieve it in natural ways without having to take any kind of medication since that hadn’t worked for me in the past.
I did some more research. I started to ask around. I read books. I watched video. I was a psychotherapist.
Most people can’t tell you how you shift out of low or bad moods. They will tell you to just sit with it.
This is great because I was always irritable about being down.
This helped a lot to let go of that habit of beating oneself up.
But here’s how I went further with it.
Through my psychotherapy experiences and studies, I learned that every thing has a cause. While it might seem like randomness, it is not. There had to be an explanation for my mood swings. I needed to be more mindful of my own thoughts and do some self-exploration.
My work with clients was a great way to find what I wanted. It is always much easier to recognize it in someone else than it is in you.
It was two factors that I realized were the most important to my moods.
The first was unmet or needs.
This was the second, unexpressed emotions.
Before my healing journey there was no way for me to change my mood in any way because I wasn’t aware of my needs and all I ever did was suppress and inhibit my feelings.
These two things can logically lead to low moods.
So why didn’t I meet my needs or feel my feelings? These simply weren’t things I had been taught how to do. It was actually encouraged to suppress my emotions. It was actually required.
If I didn’t, I would get punished. I’d be hit. And a child learns very quickly how to keep themselves safe, so that’s what I did.
This was the time that I was bullied very badly. When I entered the home of my family, I fell to the ground and began crying. This was something I never did before. This was an unusual event. A complete breakdown occurred.
My mother looked disgusted at me and stepped aside to clean the house.
I don’t exactly remember how long I lay there, but it must have been a long time because she repeatedly stepped over me and ignored me in my pain.
So that’s what I learned to do to myself.
Whatever was happening, I did not pay much attention.
Never once did I stop to think about what I wanted or feel. I didn’t give myself any reassurance or encouragement. I didn’t help myself in any way, so my only go-to point was depression or a low mood.
The inside of me, my screaming and screaming emotions and needs were contained in a little container that was just waiting for them to explode. My moods had to be low in order to reduce the stress. I had to be quiet to make sure I didn’t accidentally unlock the biggest scream the world had ever heard.
Today I realized that my low moods are a sign of my inability to feel my emotions, my needs, and my own ignoring.
I didn’t know how to honor my feelings and needs then, but I learned how during my work and healing journey.
When a low mood visits me today, I don’t step over myself. I don’t repeat the patterns of the past. I don’t repeat the lack of kindness and warmth. Instead, these are my four priorities:
1. Instead of succumbing to my low mood, I go deep.
It is not enough for me to just tolerate it. I don’t just tolerate it.
It is something that I can see and keep an eye on.
Instead, I get curious.
2. Acceptance is better than fighting low moods.
There’s no point in putting yourself down when you’re already feeling low.
You’re not doing anything wrong when you feel bad.
It’s just a sign that you need to check in with yourself and figure out what’s going on for you so that you can take care of yourself in a healthy and loving way.
So that’s what I do.
3. I ask, “What’s going on for me?”
Sometimes it’s obvious what’s impacting my mood. It could be a bad night’s sleep, an argument, or a cold.
Sometimes it’s harder to figure out what’s going on, but then it’s important that I stay with it and don’t just shrug it off.
According to my experiences, mood management can be a big part of emotional self-care.
I ask myself:
- How can I suppress my feelings?
- How might I be infringing on my own freedom or censoring others?
- Are I in the wrong types of relationships?
- What if I don’t set limits?
- Are you having too much fun?
- Are there things I can do to improve my self-esteem and growth?
The most crucial aspects of my healing journey were learning how to respond to my feelings and meet my needs. Once I understood my emotions and needs, everything began to make sense.
My moods weren’t just random anymore. They were logical. And if they didn’t, I knew that I hadn’t found all of the puzzle pieces yet.
4. For myself, I am compassionate.
It’s wonderful to be a human. It’s also hard.
Feelings, emotions and moods are part of our lives. We also have needs and relationships. Dreams and fears can be a big deal.
It’s not simple and it’s not easy.
For all of the amazing things we do and achieve, we have to be proud.
We must also be able to see who and what we really are.
We strive to improve the world. We all want to be more satisfied and happier for our own well-being and that of others. It is something that should be celebrated.
It is not about giving up. It is the constant striving for growth. A commitment to healing. It is important to acknowledge all of these things.
All of you deserve compassion. Low mood, or not.
About Marlena Tillhon
Marlena, a psychotherapist, is an experienced success coach. She specialises in helping clients overcome inner trauma and break unhealthy habits that prevent them from having the success and relationships they desire. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook and receive her free training and gifts on her website.
Join the conversation. You can click here to comment.
Tiny Buddha’s first article, How to Deal with Low Moods: A Four-Step Strategy to Make You Feel Happier appeared on Tiny Buddha.