For as long as I can remember, the word ‘mood’ has had a string of negative connotations attached to it.
Being ‘moody’ was something that I was regularly accused of being as a teenager (this probably had something to do with the epic eye-rolling abilities I had spent years harnessing) and the conversation surrounding the emotions that I feel has remained fairly consistent since then.
If I’m grumpy, tired, stressed, emotional, melancholic, bored, anxious frustrated, period-ing (it’s a verb now), disappointed, let down, crying or basically just anything other than visibly happy you can be pretty sure I’ll be accused, on some level, of being ‘in a mood’.
Even though the dictionary states that a mood is just ‘a temporary state of mind or feeling’, being ‘moody’ has always been considered a negative thing. Other emotions, better emotions; happiness, ecstasy, jubilation, joy, love, or excitement, to name but a few, don’t, for example, result in accusations of moodiness.
The minute you add a ‘y’ to the word ‘mood’ it becomes a bad thing – and that’s reeking all sorts of havoc on our emotions.
Or it is with mine at least.
Because whilst being in a ‘good mood’ is great, and being in a ‘bad mood’ is okay, being ‘moody’ feels like a different thing all together.
It is a different thing all together. The definition describes a person ‘given to unpredictable changes of mood, especially sudden bouts of gloominess or sullenness’.
You see, the ‘y’ makes things specially negative.
To be ‘moody’ is more than just being in a mood or expressing an emotion, good or bad, being ‘moody’ implies a character flaw, a permanent thing, a negative state of mind… part of who you are.
Were you a moody teenager?
I suspect you are going to say yes.
And I cannot tell you how massively problematic that answer is.
Because to answer yes to that is to say, basically, that you felt the same way for six years. To answer yes to that is to disregard every good mood, every happy time, every joyous feeling. To answer yes to that is to say that for six years your emotions were negative. Or at least, always about to be negative.
Whilst the definition of moody is suggestive of mood swings, in a colloquial sense at least, the connotations are implicit of a constantly bad mood – or at least, the tendencies of a person that people don’t particularly enjoy being around.
No one wants to be moody.
And in order to not be considered moody, we do everything we can to pull ourselves out of our bad moods when they pop up… and when we can’t? Well then we punish ourselves.
Or, I do at least.
When I find myself in a bad mood, I’ll let it consume me – and the guiltier I feel for being in a bad mood, the worse my mood becomes.
The fact is, if I’m not in a good mood, all the time, I’m really hard on myself. I don’t like being moody. I feel like I’m being a bad person, that I’m not worthy, that I’m somehow failing.
And what I’m only now, for the first time beginning to appreciate is that this is absolutely not the case.
Just because I am experiencing a mood, it doesn’t mean I am my mood.
As an anxiety sufferer, this was a particularly important realisation for me.
An example for you: I get really anxious when it comes to walking my dog – this wasn’t always the case, but I began to notice that I was developing irrational fears about it. This anxiety would consume me and I began to dread our walks; in the lead up to them I’d become introverted and quiet, I’d let the stress of it bubble up inside me so that I’d snap at anyone in sight and by the time I got home I’d be exhausted from it all.
I’d have spent so long feeling anxious that when the time came for me to look back at my day, this emotion was the only thing I was able to attach to it.
I stopped being able to recognise that I was ‘feeling’ anxious and just thought that I had become anxious. I wasn’t able to separate my feelings from myself. I was becoming my moods.
There’s every chance I’m not making much sense with this one; that to the rest of the world the fact that we are not our moods is the most obvious thing in the world, but the discovery has helped me in ways I cannot explain.
Because feelings are, for the most part, temporary.
Feeling sad is different from being sad. Feeling angry is different from being angry. And feeling tired is very different from being tired.
Thanks to PMS, the fact that all the news is bad, the stress we are under by everyone and that none of us get as much sleep as we should, we are of course, at one point or another, all a bit moody.
But that doesn’t mean we are moody.
Or it doesn’t mean being moody is a bad thing, at least.
I think probably thanks to the fact that our mental hormones as teenagers caused our exhausted parents to use this word as a way to berate us and force us out of our rooms and engage with dinner table conversation, we have been left with this idea that our moods are a bad thing.
Couple that with the fact that often when a man begins to feel threatened by a powerful woman he will call her emotions into question and perhaps suggest that the fact she is shedding her uterus lining is impacting her character, it’s small wonder the m-word is becoming the stuff of nightmares.
That the world now feels that being moody is exclusively negative;
But how can it be when having a ‘mood’ is the most natural thing in the world?
There is not a moment goes by that you aren’t having one.
Right now, you are in a mood.
Is it a good one, or a bad one? Is it the same one that you were in this morning? Do you think you’ll feel the same way when you get into bed? Or if you miss your bus? Or if you get in the bath or eat a pizza?
No, thanks to the ever changing path that is LIFE, our moods are incredibly susceptible to change; thus, we are moody.
Moods are fleeting and flowing, constantly changing and evolving and growing.
And they are, for the most part, not permanent.
To accept that is to accept yourself.
To accept that is to forgive yourself for not being bright and sparkly all the time.
To accept that is to be human.
I have moods. I am not my moods.
And you aren’t either.
Next time you find yourself feeling irritable about something, snappy, tired, irked, pissed, whatever it is, take a second to check in with yourself. Are you okay? What has caused this? Is there anything that you can do to help it pass? Or is the best thing simply to give into it and accept that this temporary state of mind is out of your control and you must not give yourself a hard time for it?
Being ‘moody’ is not only not a crime, but the most natural thing in the world.
This post was inspired by the launch of a brand new app that I am really excited about: Moody Month. I have not been paid to promote it or given anything in return for this post – I’m simply sharing it because I think it is fantastic.
It is a ‘mood tracker’, it was set up by an all female team and is the first of it’s kind, in that it uses your hormones as a way of monitoring your moods.
It’s available on the App Store, it launchd yesterday and yes I’ve got it and use it and love it.