33. Meditate on Your Mood

Good morning and welcome to your thirty-third meditation. You know that feeling when a mood descends over you like a thick, heavy blanket? And not a comfortable blanket, but more like one that you’re trapped under. Bad moods certainly are uncomfortable; they can be an inconvenience, and they can make for a really unpleasant day. But that’s all fine. We have to have these days and feel these feelings sometimes. It’s part of being human, totally natural, and it’s important that we accept these bad moods as such. Don’t punish yourself for feeling grumpy or irritable. Don’t even resist those feelings. You have to feel them from time to time; plus they provide an important contrast to those good-mood moments, making them more precious, and reassuring you that you are in possession of an in-tact and healthy range of human feeling. 

But simply letting yourself be in a bad mood is not enough. As unpleasant as these days can be, they also offer an opportunity – one that should not be ignored. This is an opportunity to observe yourself. Part of being in a bad mood is feeling a loss of control – if we could control our moods then we would likely just flick the switch on our bad mood. But we usually don’t get to decide what type of mood we find ourselves in and when, which means that bad moods are something we have to manage, more than control. This is an opportunity because we get the chance to see ourselves under pressure, and to observe how that pressure moves through us, how exactly it makes us feel, and how it manifests in our behaviour. We like to identify with our more desirable qualities, and those tend to come out when we are feeling good, confident, attractive, etc. But who are we when we feel irritable, insecure, worthless? Although we tend to not be so quick to identify with this unpleasant side of ourselves, it is us at least as much as our good-mood selves, and we can learn a lot about who we are by closely observing it in action. Ask yourself, what are the external stimuli that affect your mood the most? What can throw you into a bad mood on a dime? What are you feeling when you’re in a bad mood? Be as specific as possible. Are you angry? Frustrated? Impatient? Irritable? Insecure? Ineffectual? Weak? Sad? Afraid? To what degree do you feel any or all of these feelings? And finally, how do you behave when you feel this way? The idea with this exercise is not to control these feelings, but to know yourself better. To know what kinds of things and situations you want to learn to comfortably confront, and what you may be better off avoiding in the future. To know how best to respond to your bad mood once it descends on you – maybe you need to take a walk, maybe you need to be alone, maybe you need to talk to a friend, maybe you need to watch Friends. And finally, and this is important, to know how your mood can affect others. So don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about yourself. Meditate on your mood and make the bad ones more manageable. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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