On dealing with bad moods

What Is Wrong With You?

A guide for those who have no idea

Etashe Linto
6 min readMar 17, 2020

One morning, the employees of a notable advertising agency saw a man walk into the building. He wore a navy-blue briefcase and a grim expression that matched the stiffness of his necktie. The day was Tuesday, and the bustling walkway was dressed in gold-themed “welcome back” posters. In an unexpected turn of events, the man throws off the cheerful greeting of the receptionist, boycotts the lively lobby, and looks straight ahead through his gallant walk to an office. This was an unusual look for the middle manager.

They were looking at a new Dan — as he’s popularly called — who would go on to uproot their sympathy, and almost hurt an important client for the Agency.

Daniel Abah is a tall and well-built man with a brown moustache and spongy shaven hair. He plays ball on weekends and shuffles between the swimming classes, PTA meetings, and piano lessons of his two daughters. His friends at the book club call him “Guy man’’ — a Nigerian slang that appraises the coolness of a person — and his boss placed a “Father of the year’’ sign on his office door during the father’s day event of 2015. People loved him.

The new Dan dominated this lovable persona for over three weeks until his boss took matters into her own hands.

By then, people were retracting from me and I didn’t even know why. I didn’t think I had changed. But, deep down, I felt grey. Then my boss walks into my office, a few days after my debacle with a major client, and begins a conversation that rebooted the play between my senses and emotions. It was actually a conversation I knew that I needed to have with myself but hadn’t mustered the courage to. She walks in and says “This has gone on for too long Daniel, what is wrong with you?”

Dealing with bad moods can be tough, especially when it seems like you have no idea why you feel down in the first place.

As I listened to Dan, I realized this feeling to be something we’ve all experienced at some point in our adult lives — the grim feeling that hangs in our chest and blurs the senses, affecting our productivity and relationship with others.

It’s well understood that our response to a bad mood plays a crucial role in our wellbeing. But in moments where we exist with an uncertainty of its source, how do we effectively identify and manage these bothersome emotions?

From personal experience, strengthened by Dan’s story of mood management — through the help of his boss — we could avoid the damages of a bad mood by stepping aside for a moment to

Have A Conversation With Ourselves

When we share our emotions, we release transferable energy that defines our conversation with other humans. This force can either be negative or positive, depending on our manner of emotional expression. Rageful ventilation of thoughts bears emotional harm, whereas positive emotional energy- boiled with logical reasoning- has the potential to create a lasting bond between people.

Bad moods represent the presence of negative emotion — which may be transformed into threads of positivity with the right approach. To stitch the wounds and make room for healing, we can either express this tight feeling by Social sharing with a loved one or via the closed-basket expression — or CBE.

A basket is a container that is traditionally constructed from stiff fibres and is designed to permit the entrance of light and air through its small, medium or large-sized holes. Now, picture an aromatic diffuser placed in a closed basket. When it comes on, the basket permits its mild release to the outer space, without giving off the full strength of its content. When placed outside the basket, the scent becomes much stronger and can have multiple effects on those around it.

Like this device, bad moods are antecedents of negative emotional energy with a resultant adversarial effect.

The CBE is a conscious method of emotional expression that abides by the philosophy of intra-individual reflection.

Engaging in the CBE constitutes mundane, yet powerful acts like; letter-writing to self — with an undiluted description of one’s feelings; verbal communication with self; or the construction of a pool from the old friend, good ole tearsCrying is an attachment behaviour that has a self-soothing effect primarily via the release oxytocin which regulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) that helps people relax.

On the other end, expressing emotion is likely to be beneficial in the company of others who care about one’s welfare. This is social sharing. It involves a wholesome emotional expression to loving companions, which results in acceptance and a strengthening of the relationship.

Also, history shows that people are least likely to share feelings of shame or guilt with another human. In these cases — when we have no desire to share our emotions — the CBE can be of great value to our emotional health.

Any emotionally upsetting experience has the potential to aggravate mental and physical health problems and a healthy emotional expression paves way for the next logical step of action, which is to;

Trace Our Steps

When James W. Pennebaker, Emmanuelle Zech, and Bernard Rimé set out in an attempt to sort out some of the complexities of social sharing and disclosure of emotions, they discovered that bereaved individuals continue to show extreme grief reactions several months or years after the death.

This is also true for less-traumatizing core triggers of negative emotions.

A bad mood is rooted in a central concern (core trigger), that is constantly triggered by several disturbing activities within an environment — which includes the behaviour of other humans.

Healthy emotional expression eases the mind, but only temporarily. When we fail to identify the central concern, we risk a persistent melancholic outlook.

When did this feeling really begin?

Tracing our steps means drawing a map from the present to the past. The goal lies in identifying the central concern — That is, the root of our negative emotions. This can date back to months or years of a hurtful event.

The past is powerful enough to shape our future. Still, we have the power to build from the past.

Successful mapping awards us the benefit to;

Deal With The Concern, Not The Emotion

The first law of thermodynamics, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.

Emotion is an energy that exists in different forms. When hurt by others, a majority of humans are first inclined to react emotionally, rather than rationally. This often hurts both parties and may leave irreparable damages to longstanding relationships.

Having dealt with one’s emotion via the philosophy of intra-individual reflection, and identified the central concern, addressing the core concern is the next gratifying path to healing.

Depending on the nature of one’s concern, this may be achieved by;

  1. Approaching human culprits — If the core concern was influenced by the hurtful actions of another human. Or
  2. Creating a workable plan to single-handedly deal with the issue.

The latter was applied by Dan, whose central concern was the death of his wife. During our conversation, he said

It’s hard to go through, you know. You grow with someone you completely love and all of a sudden, they disappear from the face of the earth. Then you’ve got to struggle to pull yourself together because you can’t weep in front of your kids who are also grieving.

My boss is an exceptional woman. She walked me through my thoughts and made me realize that the heart of this bad energy I was giving off, was really the death of my wife. I kind of knew what it was, but failed to acknowledge it. I ended up blaming the other little fragments for my pain.

Had his mood stemmed from a disagreement with his wife — that is, assuming she was still alive — priority would have been placed on having a thoughtful conversation with her.

When Dan’s wife died from brain cancer in August of 2018, the trauma altered his personality, leading him to unconsciously hurt the emotions of his colleagues, and work productivity.

Bad moods are powerful enough to break us. They bite productivity by feeding on valuable time and disturbing our emotional PH. This can affect everything around us, even without our total awareness.

A bad mood with no clear origin may be transformed by the intra-individual reflection of self, tracing one’s steps, and dealing with the concern, not the emotion.