I recently slipped into a bad mood disorder. Now, to be clear, I didn’t technically have a diagnosable Mood Disorder. Rather, I had a disturbance of mood. Let me explain.
My wife Christie and I had just had a tiff. Nothing serious, but I got my feelings hurt. There were several minutes of tension between us, which I hate. I mulled on how I had been wronged, how I was the innocent party and did not deserve her response to me (distortions, of course).
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As I rehearsed how I had been wronged, I withdrew into silence, pulling away from her. I twisted circumstances, failing to consider what she had intended, what she was feeling and what prompted her to say what she said.
No matter. I withdrew into “pouty silence,” becoming more deeply entrenched in my mood disturbance. Of course she could feel my distance. I’m sure my distancing was disconcerting to her as she did not intentionally try to hurt my feelings. My silence, however, created more confusion to our situation.
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I must be very careful in these situations not to let a bit of conflict—a “molehill” in the great scope of things—turn into an emotional “mountain.” If you’re like me, however, it’s easy to let feeling wronged turn into the proverbial mountain. A slight here, and twisted bit of truth there, rehearsing the distorted facts, and the small problem worsens.
Moods, when clearly considered, are distortions of truth. They are facts taken and twisted to suit our ultimate goal—which too often is not to see things clearly. Too often we want to ‘play the victim,’ twist the truth, deny our role in a difficulty or outright malign another. While these tactics may give us moments of satisfaction, they do not help us grow or effectively deal with a challenging situation.
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The Apostle Paul may have had situations like mine (and yours) in mind when he admonished us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. In fact, he says this:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12: 2).
I am quite sure that God’s will is not for me to pout, sulk and withdraw when my feelings are hurt. In fact, I must daily ask God to give me a loving, kind heart and mind, able to effectively discern truth. Likewise, God’s will for me and you is to grow into healthy people like Christ.
Let’s consider some other strategies for keeping a healthy mood:
One, breathe. Sure, this sounds overly simplistic. However, when agitated we tend to breathe shallow, allowing adrenaline to surge through our bodies which only serves to create tension in us and between us. Breathe. Attempt to calm yourself.
Two, step back from your situation. We would do well, in times of stress with another, to step back from the situation. Allow for a little time to pass before responding. Scripture tells us to “be slow to speak and quick to listen” (James 1:19).
Three, look at your situation from different angles. Someone has said that if we truly understood the other person there would be no conflict. I have certainly found this to be the case. Seek to listen, reflect and understand where the other person is coming from. What is their perspective and why might they have said what they did?
Four, consider your part in the problem. Note that you have many options other than to slip into a bad mood. Notice how a bad mood takes a lot of work—you must ‘play the victim,’ rehearse being wronged and likely amplify and distort the other person’s words or actions. Don’t succumb to a bad mood!
Finally, consider the solution. No matter what happened, or who was wrong, consider the solution. What is the problem to be solved? How can you relate to the other person in a way so as to bring harmony? No matter how the other person acts, you are called to live in peace with them and in most cases, you can!
Are you prone to ‘mood disturbances?’ Do you tend to jump to conclusions, placing yourself in a ‘self-righteous’ position and finding fault with others? Doing this will not serve you well in the long run. Consider the steps above and work on transforming your mind through the power of Scripture and emotional/ spiritual growth.
Publication date: April 21, 2015