We’ve all done it – and probably felt even worse afterward. Done what? Taken out our frustration and anger about our pain on ourselves or someone else. The physical weight of the pain coupled with the ever-growing sense of being dragged down by it can make the most resilient of us snap, lash out, and express what is hurting so deep inside. There’s the object hurled across the room. The bitter words spoken to someone we care about. The subtle, yet just as destructive, ways we sabotage our wellbeing even as we say we want to preserve it. These things and others can re-cycle each time we feel the pressure of built-up pain, making them almost as predictable as other reflexive responses. And the aftermath, the feelings of guilt, greater pain, perhaps even loss, are predictable, too.
Predictable, yes, but not inevitable, if we take care.
Take, for example, a conversation with a loved one. You are feeling bad, very bad, and your mood is colored by those feelings. Your loved one’s more upbeat mood, simply put, rubs you the wrong way and you lash out verbally, shutting down the two-way street of compassion. So, your loved one’s feelings are hurt and he or she puts distance between you. Then, you feel worse because 1) you’ve hurt someone you care about, and 2) you feel even more alone now that you’ve alienated part of your support system.
This kind of situation need not happen. One technique to prevent it is to take honest stock of your pain and mood and express that to your loved one up front, instead of couching your feelings in other topics of conversation. This way, you let the other person know what the day is like for you, and he or she can respond accordingly. Prayer helps tremendously, especially for guidance and the right words to say. So, too, does consciously thinking of the other person (or yourself) and your desire to make your conversation (or self-care) as good and healthful as possible, thus pushing less-healthful responses into the background. And, of course, on a really bad day, sometimes it’s better to just retreat, rest, take good care, absorb God’s Word, and look to a tomorrow that will be better.
A bad mood brought on by a bad day need not turn out to be destructive. For, just as our negative responses are within out control, so, too, are preventative measures to ensure that, although we have these very human feelings, we do not need to be victims to them.