If you’re feeling down, what can you do? Let’s examine the story from Saying Goodbye to Lousy Moods for some insight.
Since Theo hates loud bars and doesn’t know his co-workers that well, he’s never gone out for happy hour on Fridays. But he’d like to socialize more so he decides one night to join them.
This is not looking good. The last thing he needs when he’s already feeling awkward is to plop himself down in his own personal nightmare. But he’s ignoring his own good judgment. Bad move.
Making friends naturally through projects makes sense, though. Volunteer work is ideal. Gatherings centered around hobbies and interests – photography, books, softball – would also introduce him to people like himself. If self-help or spirituality interests him, he might explore a community committed to his same world view.
Everyone leans across the table toward each other while he sits up straight with a tight smile and fiddles with his napkin. No one notices he isn’t talking. Just as well: they’re arguing politics and their god-awful views are appalling. His face gets twitchy.
How awful. He might as well head home and resolve to find a social activity that suits him. And he should tell himself it’s not weird to dislike loud bars.
All Theo really wanted to do tonight was read his mystery novel. He creeps out, goes home and turns on some jazz and tries to read. But sixty percent of him is reading and forty percent is back at the bar, feeling stupid.
Since he can’t concentrate on his book, he might take this time to practice mindfulness. Yoga is good: since he’s preoccupied, focusing on movement and physical sensations will refresh his mind.
Is he piling on self-defeating messages? Telling himself he’s a dud and no one likes him? That he’s too serious? Author Byron Katie suggests identifying these thoughts and asking “Is this true? Is this really true?”
What else might explain this wretched evening?
- His co-workers don’t dislike him, they just don’t know him.
- He most certainly is not boring. He loves jazz, good mysteries, meaningful conversation.
- He’s an introvert. They’re extroverts. Introverts are lovely people, thoughtful and sensitive to the subtle beauties of life.
(The next morning he feels depressed.) Normally he would go do his Saturday volunteer work, but instead he sits down with his mystery again. He mopes.
He’s got to put down that book. The book is his enemy right now. The book is not his friend. Even though he feels he just can’t, he must get dressed, leave the house, follow his normal routine and get around people.
If Theo decides to find some social activities that fit his personality, if he works with his thinking and gets moving, he’ll feel much better by the afternoon. Think about your own version of his story. What puts you at risk for bad moods? What new activities and interests can bring more joy? Do you have habits that drain energy and beliefs that make you feel bad? Perhaps you might take a few minutes to write about turning your own bad moods around and making changes that can even prevent them from taking root.
Readers: What changes might bring more joy to your life?