Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mood Swings

It might seem completely harmless to be "in a bad mood." I used to think this excused foul language, insults, bad behavior, rude remarks, pouting, not answering when spoken to, or lashing out in anger. After all, it is "just a bad mood." But, in home life, consider this: everything we do has an affect on others in the home, sometimes for life!

Our moods can rub off on others, and create problems for a long time. As a teenager, I used to think it was okay to "express" my moods and go the distance with a "bad mood," not realizing the damage it was doing to my relationships--relationships that I would desperately need to for support, many years later!

I discovered when homeschooling our children, that mood swings would have to be dealt with and controlled if we were to thrive as a family, being thrown together in every aspect of life. We ate together, were active together in mutual interests, and interacted conversationally. We would not survive as a cohesive family if mood swings were to controll us. If one person was "in a bad mood," the rest of us would end up catering to him, tip-toeing around him, trying to to "set him off", and so forth. The one with the bad mood would be controlling the atmosphere of the home.

My vision was not just for a temporal peace at home while the children were in our care. I was concerned about our future relationships as adults; the children with their own marriages and children. I did not want them to carry their mood swings into their next life as adults, affecting their children and creating despair in their own homes. I could just imagine their little children's sad looks as they said, "Daddy's in a bad mood. We can't ask him to take us fishing today," or, "Mother is in a bad mood. We can't talk to her."

To eliminate the effect of mood swings, I challenged our children to research and study the concept of "self-control." I emphasized that there is less control exercised by others over you, when you take charge over your moods and control them so that they don't impose on others. Mood swings can create havoc in families and go on to harm your future marriages. When children grow up with parents who have mood swings, they develop the same emotional reactions.

We learned so much from the study of self-control, finding poems and literature even from the 18th and 19th century, which helped boys and girls "school their feelings," as it was termed. Love and consideration for others became a priority. If someone was "in a bad mood", their best recourse was to go away to their own room and do it in private, rather than impose their anger and their "funk" on the rest of the family. They weren't allowed to plague everyone else with their bad mood. Consideration for others meant that we would not create a gloomy atmosphere in the home, at the table, in the car, or anywhere else, with pouting and resentment. If a person was to feel that way, he could go back to bed until he felt better.

Researching moods meant that we often got to the bottem of the bad mood, discovering the things that created bad moods, and correcting them. Sometimes a foul mood came from unrealized goals, lack of accomplishment, a disorganized room, unfulfilled obligations, unfinished tasks, disprespect to parents and siblings, or unreconciled relationships. Lack of worthwhile things to work for, can also result in frustration and create moodiness. Everyone should have something they are intensely interested in, or different things that have a noble end, to work for.

We also discovered the physcial aspects of mad moods, such as low blood sugar from not eating often enough or poor nutition, lack of sleep, worry, depressing movies or reading materials, too much attention to daily news broadcasts (where they loudly tell the public over and over of some assault, crime, or failure of mankind) unwise spending, lack of good use of time, dressing in a depressing way, or despressing decor. As we corrected these problems, we bgan to have the kind of rapore in our family that other people, peeking in, wanted to duplicate in their own lives.

As a child, it was a curiousity to me how some adults always seemed to be "the same" or even-tempered. When I asked someone once, "Aren't you ever in a bad mood?" she said, "Of course. But I would not impose that bad mood on you. I go somewhere private and do it." I used to admire certain women who didn't ever seem to be emotionally distressed, but I learned when I grew up that they were being careful not to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. It was a generation that would not have imposed their problems on others, for the world. It was also a matter of propriety and politeness that they did not make the whole family suffer if they were in a bad mood. Of course, families should share one another's griefs, but bad moods, pouting, and that sort of thing that has people feeling jumpy and distraught, amount to a completely different thing.

Back in the 50's, and some of the people I knew were born in 1900. They were from the old school, where they were taught to harness their emotions and bring them into subjection. They knew what "taking captive every thought" meant. It meant you didn't lash out at others, among other things. Those who let their moods control them, and those around them, were considered rude and angry, and we were warned not to go with an angry man.

Today the talk shows and even the web encourages "rants" and letting it all out, no matter who it hurts. Are we any better for it? Are we more at ease, less upset, for "venting?" People do great damage to others and then claim, "I was frustrated." While this is understandable, we can still be frustrated and "sin not." We can feel angry, moody, pouty, and so forth, but we don't need to foist it on the rest of the family. This kind of rudeness seeps into our government and our court system. People get away with horrendous crimes because they were "in a bad mood," or "frustrated."

One wonderful avenue of expression is prayer. Another is those God has put in our lives, such as husbands, sisters and friends. These poeple provide wonderful listening ears without being judgemental. If we have them in our lives and our moods don't damage the relationships, this is good. I found it valuable to remember that mood swings can be caught by your children, and just as the mother is moody, so will the daughter be. There are some things that can be controlled in our lives, and moods are one of them. I'm not talking about grief, deep concern, and that sort of thing, but moodiness. I"m sure everyone has experienced calling up a friend, and hearing that her husband is "in a bad mood today." I think immediately of how the children will perceive this. Will a "bad mood" be an excuse for behaving angrily, and wounding the feelings of others?"

One test we took, while learning to "school our feelings," was to do something, some task, or attend some social function, even serving our own guests, in spite of our mood. It had an interesting effect. The more we did what was on our list of daily duties, in spite of our moods, the more in control we became of those moods. I attended a wonderful course on how to become more organized at home, when I was in my 20's. There, I observed that the women were learning to control their moods by controlling their homes. Instead of waiting til they were "in the mood" to clean out the refrigerator, they would wait until the date came up in the card file they had created, to clean the fridge. The mood was set aside, and the task was done, even if they didn't feel like doing it. When I learned this lesson, my moods stopped dominating me and depression failed to control me as much.

Another thing that really helped was the philosophy that life consisted of disappointments as well as happiness, and often the disappointments made happieness more enhanced when it came. Life was part good and part bad, and not always to our liking. However, we could eliminate a lot of problems just by controlling our moods

Studying the pioneer women and our own mothers and grandmothers was a great benefit to us. I learned that my mother suffered a lot of hardship when we were growing up, but she did her daily work anyway. She had responsibilities and there was no getting under the covers and burying her head while the family and the house were neglected. Many people did that, and I wonder if it was the best therapy. I still know these people, now in their 80's, and they seem stronger than ever emotionally.

To improve their moods, many women of that time would wash their hair, put on a dress, or serve tea. I never understood the washing hair thing, but one day I decided to try it. It had something to do with the way the hands engage the mind, in rubbing the head, while the head is tipped down into the sink. That sounds hilarious, but it works. It improved her mood. She then went outside and finished the process by drying her hair in the sun. This required her sitting somewhere pleasant and taking time to think. There was after that, the matter of styling her hair and putting clips to secure it, all part of improving the mood.

Mother had catologs she enjoyed looking at and always had a book to read. She had many interests and hobbies to distract her. She wrote stories and poems sometimes and wrote long letters to her mother. She found all kinds of things to improve her children's moods, as well, without money.

I think it is unwise to develop a reputation of being in a bad mood, or being moody. As I said before, it is not a matter of having shock or grief in your life, or intense worry. These are different than ordinary moodiness, which can be controlled. It is hard on others when they don't know from one day to the next where they stand with you. The moods that determine this can be controlled in childhood, and if not, good behaviour can be learned.

Looking for a poem called "School Thy Feelings," I found this beautiful poem on the web.

My message today is to let the only swing you have, be the kind in the painting ;-)

Our Life's Message

Our life is like a flower, from a little seed it grows.
Whatever will become of it, no human ever knows.
It’s fed and nurtured, given love and care;
Then as it blossoms, we’re suddenly aware
Of just what that life was meant to be,
For it now is made plain for all to see.
Yes, our life is a message that others will read,
And hopefully what’s read will meet some need.
So may our morals be high and our character strong,
Doing what’s right and avoiding all wrong,
For the time is short, it’s fleeting by
And like a flower, we fade and die -
But the message we leave for all to see,
Shall remain forever, through eternity.

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works,and glorify your Father which is in heaven"(Matt. 5:16)

Connie - May, 1996 (from http://www.inspirationalpoetry.com/faith1/ourlifesmessage.shtml)

Painting: Young Girl on a Swing by Francis W. Topham


kapil kaisare said...

An interesting post.

I remember a Japanese custom that carries similar resonances. The womenfolk strive to carry a pleasant demeanor by doing everything that they do in an artistic, beautiful way. When they feel upset, they arrange flowers, practice origami or anything that requires an almost meditative attention to elegance and beauty.

I've been busy for almost three months now - exams, laboratory work and the like - but I'm free now and look forward to renewing my visits to your blog. Keep up the good work, Mrs. Sherman.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Kapil, I don't know you personally but I feel a repore with you as a mother and son.


Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Mother said she used to go on long, long walks. I suppose there is something that balances the moods by the activity of walking, or even creativity, as you mentioned.

Dwayne, Jenny & Hendrik said...

Thanks for another great post! My husband is a firm believer in each person being able to control their own moods. You decide if you are going to be controlled by your mood or if you are going to control it. He also suggests counting your blessings. After visiting Ethiopia while he was in Bible school and seeing the poverty and suffering that people live with each day whenever he is in a bad mood he thinks, "What is going so wrong in my life that I should be upset? I am blessed." He chooses to focus on the things that are going well and the blessings God has given instead of what is temporarily bothering him. I have yet to master this and must confess that I am in a bad mood far more often than I should be. It's a good topic to study and try to improve on in our lives. :)
Thanks again,

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

We are also subject to some programming by others, who set up false concepts for us and then give us reasons to be unhappy. Sometimes we are influenced by people who take us aside and ask us why we put up with this or that, or why don't we do such and such, and it plants little seeds of discouragment and frustration in us, robbing us of contentment.

Anonymous said...

I would add that if one trains one's mind to school their feelings and moods into something productive, it becomes easier to control them under duress, in sickness, in tragedies and grief, any life changes,and when irritations come. No matter what the illness or the thing that confronts you, moods that are in good regulation will not flare up and take over. Not that you won't feel them and experience them, but you won't let them control you. I had an aunt who was the most even tempered person, who died a painful death, whose relatives were unkind to her, and yet she never allowed it to put her in a bad mood. She went through many health problems but she did not want to make life miserable for others so she didn't complain.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! Lady Lydia, this is a wonderful post, and so needed! It seems that our society has set out to give people permission to always have bad moods, be it through "venting" or claiming that we have "chemical imbalances". I can remember when people were actively taught to control their moods, and would never have thought of using a "bad mood" as an excuse for poor behavior.

Like another poster here, I have a husband who refuses to give in to bad moods, and I have learned much from him. I have also been through many very severe trials in my life, and have seen other people go through even worse things. After living through extreme poverty and terrible health problems of my own and family members, and having seen how so many people in the world suffer, I can assure most people living in Western society that they are indeed blessed beyond the comprehension of most people in the world, and have very little to be moody about.

Having control over one's situation, from one's home to one's moods, makes one happier. If I feel a bad mood coming on, I face it head on, tell it that it's not going to take control of my day, and immediately seek to distract myself through housework, hobbies or doing something for someone else. Works like a charm. I'm free of being the victim of my moods, and my family is free of having a grumpy person around who is simply being self-indulgent with moodiness.

Again, thank you so much. I just loved this post.

Anonymous said...

My father was and is a great advocate of honesty. Growing up in his care I gathered that he viewed pouting and moods as bordering on dishonesty. They make people "guess" how to approach you and go into a worry mode about how to please you. Pouts and moods just weren't tolerated, even though my parents were considerate of our desires and feelings. They could tell the difference.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Anonymous I wish I knew who you are. Your attitude reflects some beautiful values and I think you must have a wonderful blog somewhere!!

Denise said...

Lady Lydia- You cannot know how much this post has helped me. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and have allowed it to paralyze me. I have let my weight, home, appearance and finances get into an absolute mess. When I was challenged by my husband about these issues I used my depression as an excuse for my neglect, my snappish behavior etc. But the other day , I "had" to clean the house because of visitors coming, and I "had" to leave the house to purchase foodstuffs and I "had" to put on a happy face for company and guess what... It will not surprise you to know that by the time these friends were gone, I felt better. I had always had a choice, but yet I allowed myself to wallow with nary a fight. Thank you for this timely reminder

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Denise, welcome to the club--most of us probably resort to giving up before we even try the various things to alleviate depression. It is much easier to give in to it. I found with weight, in particular, it is a vicious cycle. The heavier I've gotten, the more depressed I've become, and so I became less active and more apt to eat the things that added weight. I was able to change this defeating behaviour by using depression as a signal to get to work. I pushed myself and pressured myself to do the most unpleasant tasks, and caught up on the pleasant ones. As in most depression, sleep disorders can occur, so I also used that sleeplessness to accomplish some good, in getting my house in order. Eventually this excess activity helped me drop the excess weight and my sleeping returned to normal. Accomplishing things that I had neglected, helped alleviate the sour moods, too. Not everyone has the ability to self-motivate, but if you have a friend who would talk you through it on the phone, it is very helpful!

Anonymous said...

Another Nice Post Lady Lydia, I always seem to be in a bad mood most of the time. My home makes me depressed (upkeep of it) my surroundings depress me (neighbors) My children depress me (fighting, loudness, rude) My husband depresses me (wants me to work outside the home in a 9 to 5 and not in my current job Realtor) My weight depresses me, My life seems to depress me sometimes! I really do know the reasons why I am depressed but it just seems to be a dark cloud over my head making me feel like I can't do any better. I know that I am not the woman I want to be, I don't speak like the woman I want to be, I don't dress like the woman I want to be, I don't care for my family or myself like the woman I want to be, I don't care for my home like the woman I want to be. It's like I am living a lie that I cant get out of, I am not even successful in my lie because I am so depressed! This mood post was great to read and I thank you, You really seem to be like the woman I aspire to be like!

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

You may need to get on a routine of rest and very good food, and avoid bad news!

Once when I was very discouraged, someone sent me this from the Bible:

We are troubled (pressed) on every side,---yet not distressed;

We are perplexed, --but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken;

Cast down, --but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

The other scriptures that are helpful come from the Beattitudes. They start out with the words "Blessed is the man who.." Blessed means "happy." If one does all the things in the beattitudes, he can achieve happiness.

However, depression is part of life, and has to be endured. Not enduring it, or taking shortcuts to avoid the process, can circumvent the healing process that takes place in enduring it. It is uncomfortable, to be sure, but to recover from it, it will be like losing weight. Changes will have to be made gradually in lifestyle and diet. For depression, changes will take place gradually in lifestyle and the things that go into your mind.

I learned that someone very close to me was getting a divorce after 27 years. I thought I couldn't take any more bad news, but the new habits I had worked on, in the way I worked, paid off. If you are young, you can start some habits now that will help you bear the burdens of life later on.

One book that you might find helpful is "Finding Favor With God and Man." I don't know who the author is, but I think it is an old book from the 19th century, maybe older. It shows examples of perseverance. One is Christopher Columbus and all he went through to find the new world. His crew tried to mutiny and attempt to murder him. Yet he kept to his goal as if he really would reach it. There were other examples in this book that were inspiring. When you see defeat all around you, it is harder to believe you can rise above despair. Try a word study of "perseverance" and "purpose" and see what you come up with.

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Just wondered if you've ever seen the movie or read the book called "Pollyanna." It would do your heart good to watch it.

Another one I recommend is "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" about a woman who went to China.

Both stories show how people overcame their circumstances.

Mrs.Garcia said...

Lady Lydia, Thank you for posting about Mood Swings. This post has really made realize that I need to change my Attitude and Mood not only for myself but for friends and Especially for My Family.

Anna said...

I sure have noticed when I am not acting pleasent how my family will follow suit. As I set an example of patience and love they tend to do the same. I read years ago that parents should watch how they start the day with their family too. If a child is rudely waken and demanded to do this and that that attitude will start their day off being sour. They in turn may take it out on the next child or not settle down to studies etc. My own Mother woke us often singing to us "You are My Sunshine" and other old sweet tunes! That started us out in a loving mood for sure. I needed to hear the lesson you reminded me of to day. Thankyou.

Becky Miller said...

Do you mean "rapport" and not "repore"?

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

My husband, who is 62, comments that his relatives (father, mother, uncles, etc) that were older when he was a child, were of that generation that was always under control. They all lived through the depression but didn't seem to ever be depressed. I wonder if there is a connection!!

Terri said...

I have five daughters and I think my mantra for years was, "Yes, you feel yucky today, but that is not an excuse for treating others poorly."

Your post was excellent.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,

Can you share more of how a lady can control her weight? I feel I have so much to do without having to add working out to my schedule. I actually hate working out, because I feel I'm wasting my time and it's no fun. I'd much rather be doing something constructive, like working in the yard, rather than working out. Do you have any suggestions? Will keeping my home better work? I don't eat a lot at all, but need to lose 20-30 lbs.

Mrs.B. said...

I found this post so inspiring that I linked to it from my blog.

Thanks so much for writing it!


Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, the book you mean may be "Gaining Favor with God and Man." It is a reprint sold by Richard Wheeler of Mantle Ministries.

Scroll down to the second page, under Non-Fiction Classics, on the right side of the page -


Ellen said...

That was a great post. Since I have to work I feel fortunate to have a job I love, but the only thing I don't enjoy is moody co-workers. My supervisor spends all day complaining about everything (most of which has nothing to do with work) and sometimes it just wears on me. I confess to not keeping my feeling in check outside the home in the past, but actually being aroung people like her has really opened my eyes as to how plain boring I was to others when I complained all the time. Now I try to smile more and offer more words of encouragement even when I don't feel like it. This woman is twice my age and if anything it's caused me to examime my attitude about everything because I sure don't want to be like her when I'm 60. I want to be a happy and friendly older woman- not a sour and bitter one which I fear I was on the road to! I have heard more than once the we can be either an example or a warning and I believe truer words were never spoken.

Anonymous said...

Good post, ellen. Makes me even more aware of how my words and attitudes affect others.

As has been said elsewhere, in response to life's troubles we either get "better or bitter." People may not realise the choice is theirs.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
Another wonderful and thought provoking post. I have just been reading about St. Francis de Sales who was known as 'unflappable'. To quote: "His calm control and balance was no sign of lack of feeling. Once a colleague asked him to get a bit worked up about setbacks to their work and was told: 'Do you really want me to throw away in a quarter of an hour the little bit on control I've painfully managed to acquire over 20 years?'" I know that I been childish and let my emotions have their own way for far too long and now must learn to school them.
The only 'romance' novel that I kept when I returned to the faith was A Home for the Holidays by Joy Reed. In it are sayings such as: "Discipline and self-control are the cornerstones of success and happiness in life" and "Learning self-discipline is like learning anything else. You will find it gets easier with practice."
My mother had problems with moodiness and self-control and would constantly fly off the handle and scream at everyone in the house or else sulk. It was extremely unsettling.
I will print out this essay so that I can read it every day to remind myself of how an adult should act.
Thank you again,
P.S. I love 'you can either be a warning or an example' by Ellen

Anonymous said...

Thank you soo much for posting this blog! It is like it was written just for me! I am 19 and getting ready to be married in two months and want to claim victory over these problems of mood swings and funks..LOL. My poor fiance has already had to endure soo many of the tantrums that I throw, but has loved me and helped me through them all. Thank you again for posting. It was a real shot in the arm...( or in the heart I should say). I am soo thankful the Lord has revealed this problem to me at am earlier stage in life so that I can start working and fixing it now (With Christ's help) before I become a bitter worn out mother who always gripes and complains! The Lord IS FAITHFUL! May He continue to do His marvelous tweeking and tuning in each of us! Blessings!

Mrs. Pickles said...

Excellent and timely blog! I was just reading in a book about building a happy marriage (written by a wonderful Christian psychologist) that every psychologist knows that feelings are always the last to change. First you change behavior, then mental attitudes change, and finally your feelings are influenced. It takes time, but that's why it's so important to act loving and cheerful even when you don't "feel like it" -- acting as if you were will eventually change how you feel.

That said, I was very happy to read this post today, since I've been dealing with a bad mood myself! I hope it's not too boastful to say that usually I'm able to present a cheerful face to my family, but today I woke up with a black cloud over my head. I know the reason though: I'm in my first trimester of pregnancy so it's easy enough to blame the mood on hormones! It's very unsettling for me to feel like this, because I'm such a private person that normally I'd rather die than have a breakdown in public. It's very difficult feeling like I'm not in control. When I feel down like this I try to keep the peace by keeing my mouth shut, lest I say something hurtful to my loving husband. But he can still tell that I'm sulking -- I can sense he's walking on eggshells around me, and I don't think that's fair to him. When I was growing up our home life revolved around my mother's moods. My mother is a very good woman, but when she was in a bad mood it dominated the household. We would often breathe a sigh of relief when she left the house to run errands alone. I promised myself that my home would never be like that, but now I find myself in the same situation! Do you have any advice for women in a situation like mine who feel that we really don't have control over our moods? How can a mother with small children and a busy household to run hide her bad mood someplace else when she's constantly "on call?" Any tips on how can I "force" myself to be cheerful around my family when I'd rather curl up alone with a good book and a cup of tea?

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I didn't answer the question about weight oss. Doing without sugar and cutting down on breads can control the weight, but you must have something that fills you up, so double up on vegetables and meats. Carbs are the culprit. YOu can get away with about 60 grams a day and still lose weight. That is about 1 slice of bread or 1 potato or a couple of ears of corn. We have become grain fed in our nation and combined with less activity it means weight gain. However you can eat a lot more if you don't have all the starches.You can have a huge breakfast and eat your bread in the morning. We gain weight more at night as a result of heavy evening meals. Try reversing it: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Then you wake up famished and can have a really great breakfast without guilt. If you must eat a favorite dessert, eat it at the beginning of the day, not the end.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I didn't answer the one about being in a bad mood and wanting to curl up with a cup of tea. I think that is what you should do. It does less harm. Just do something relieving and beautiful. Curling up with a nice cup of tea and a favorite treat is much better. The family can easily tell if you are in a bad mood. All you have to do is tell them you aren' feeling well and they will have to do more things and help themselves for the time being.


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