Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mood swings, slides, and other rides

When I'm moody, my family knows it because I withdraw. I want quiet, and lots of it. And if I can't get it, I become tense and irritable on top of the moodiness. When our kids were younger, they knew that when Mom got quiet, it was a quiet storm. They also learned early on not to push my "red buttons" when I was like this, because it could set off my early-B.T.N. (Bed Time Now) system and I would suddenly start ordering everyone into their pajamas and off to bed, regardless of the sunshine beaming through the windows. Wise children, these Taylors. They knew how not to activate the early-B.T.N. system simply by giving me a wide berth and lots of dead air when it was needed.

It's a part of human nature to experience mood swings. As one writer put it, some people even experience "the whole mood playground," not just the swings! 

This article is not designed to be medical advice. We're looking at this from a generalized perspective. If you have been downhearted for months or longer, you have more going on than just mood swings, and should be examined by someone who is qualified to assist you. This article is for women who have dealt with waves of emotions that have tossed them about. If you recognize any of the following "swings" from the "mood playground," this blog's for you:
  • Feeling like you could scream
  • Fighting back tears and losing the battle
  • Having to run out of a room to compose yourself
  • Raising your voice to make a point
  • Chewing someone out and then feeling sorry about it
  • Wishing people would just leave you alone
  • Feeling like "people are against you"
 There are other symptoms that we could list, but this is a general start. The main thing that we want to address is that while mood swings are real, they are not permanent. We can learn, by the power of the Holy Spirit, how to "rule over our own spirits," which includes our emotions and yes, our moods.

Here are some tips for weathering emotional storms:
1. Figure out what's really bothering you. Sometimes we're raging around the problem rather than getting to the bottom of it. Failure to be honest about the real problem is like eating carrots when you really want chocolate cake; you're not going to be satisfied. "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom." (Psa. 51:6) God knows what's really bothering us. Ask Him for help in getting to the heart of the matter. 

And guess what? It may be something as simple as this: YOU were wrong and you need to ask for forgiveness, but haven't done it. When we're wrong and we won't admit it, we have to deal with the guilt, which can manifest itself in a floating sort of moodiness. Say these seven wonderful words as soon as possible: "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" These are seven words that can help promote healing, and your mood will lighten when you've taken care of this important task.

2. Are you tired? Get some rest! "But I'm so busy!" Yes, and I'm so busy that the workers at airport security know me by name and comment on my outfits. Busy is an "operating system" that I've come to accept, but when I try to skimp on my rest, I end up emotionally raw, hypersensitive and not good for much of anything. At times like these, a report card would say this: "Does not work well with others."

The disciples who walked with Jesus were busy, and they didn't have a fraction of our conveniences to help them. Jesus told them to "rest a while," and He took them to a solitary place to make sure that it would happen. "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." (Mark 6:31) The solution to moodiness due to exhaustion is rest. As I heard one speaker say, "Come apart and rest or you'll come apart."

3. Steer clear of people who are wearing "poison" stickers on their foreheads. "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." (Prov. 22:24-25) The word "furious" in verse 24 refers to a person who is "poison"! And to paraphrase the verse, "If you hang around grumps, you'll master the art of grumpiness." Reexamine some of your close friendships, and put a little distance in the ones where a friend is indulging in a routinely-volatile temper. The same rule applies to negative, critical people. We can run into mood problems of our own without anyone provoking us.

4. And this last thought is the most important one: Stop running through life "on empty." Too many women are trying to drive their lives with their spiritual gas tanks on the fumes of last Sunday's sermon! It is a fact that the preaching will fortify you, but it doesn't count as your personal time in God's Word. Life is hard enough without going through it on a self-inflicted spiritual starvation diet. Look at what Job said in the midst of his anguish: "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." (Job 23:12) If you have been trying to get by on just little bits of the Word, you're setting yourself up for mood swings, because your attitude will be impacted by your circumstances rather than by God's principles.

 Ultimately, we all have to get to the point where we are allowing the Holy Spirit to so fill us that we are able, by His power, to rule over our own spirits. This phrase is found in Proverbs 25:28: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls." We have breakdowns when our spiritual walls are broken down! A vital and key principle is missing if you've never learned how to have dominion over your own mind. We are rational beings who are capable of being very irrational, which is why we need God's help to direct and control our emotions, including our moods.

When we yield our moods to God, He is able to deliver us even from ourselves! As we deepen our walk with the Lord, he strengthens our ability to "rule" over our emotions and increases our stability. We end up in the position of predominance over our radical mood swings by tapping into the source of our strength: God Himself. He lives in us. Why don't we call on Him more often to direct and control us? When we humble ourselves and really admit that we need God's help, we're in the perfect position to receive His aid.

You want a free attitude adjustment? It's available daily in God's Word. Stop allowing yourself to take "time off" from Scripture when it's your "necessary food." Keep your heart and mind filled with Scripture and you'll be amazed and relieved at what it does for your mood. Let's stop torturing our family and friends with the rides on our mood playground.  It's past time to get off the mood swings.

"A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." (Prov. 14:16)



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2 comments:

  1. What do you do if the people that are "poison" in your life are people that you can't avoid (for example: your mother, or a co-worker who sits right next to you)? How do you keep positive and not join them in their negative and critical spirits? (This question was posted in another location and moved to this page by Keep the Heart.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all have people like that in our lives, but we don't have to be like them. Maintain an excellent spirit! You are a version of "Daniel in the lion's den," but you won't have to become a lion to survive! Rely on the Lord, pray for the right words to speak, and use as few words as possible. You may not be able to "beat them," but you're never obligated to "join them."

      "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise." (Prov. 10:19)

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