Practices for Cultivating Love, Self-Love and Self-Directed Kindness, Working With Painful Emotions

Bad Moods: When Everything is the Worst

Wow, do I get into bad moods sometimes.

I think most of us do.

Things are going along pretty well. I may even feel really happy. And then I start getting a little tired. A little overstimulated.

Something small happens. It triggers me.

And then EVERYTHING IS THE WORST EVER. And it seems really out of proportion to what is going on in my life. Suddenly I will start thinking stuff like this, when only the day before, things have been going along swimmingly, and I am excited about everything and have a great sense of purpose and direction:


Bad moods really confuse me sometimes. I don’t always know how to deal with them.  A while ago I read about surfing the waves of our bad feelings. This image was really helpful to me. I think I used to identify myself with my bad feelings.

If I was feeling bad, I thought my life was horrible. 

If I felt really sad, I thought my life was tragic. 

If I felt hopeless, I thought my life was hopeless.

But when I read about surfing the waves of my feelings, I suddenly realized that I am not the same thing as my feelings. Feelings are like waves that come and go, and I can learn to surf them so I don’t get completely swallowed up in them.

And one way I surf my feelings is by painting.

I was in a bad mood yesterday. So I painted.


This one is called “Anger”. 


I could say that my bad mood was because I was tired and overstimulated. Or because of an unexpected snaffoo. Or because I have a little too much on my plate. I don’t know.


This is “Praying”. 


Whatever it was, it felt like my bad mood was really out of proportion to the good things in my life. But my mood didn’t care. It insisted, “I feel crappy, and I am not going to change, so deal with it.”

So, I kept painting because while painting doesn’t solve all my problems, it does help me surf my feelings.


This is “Begin Again”.

Color is really soothing. So are shapes. When I am in a bad mood and I paint, I start with some shape that seems right to me and then build on that. I just kind of follow my intuition.

And I guess that helps me release some of my negative feelings.

I definitely felt better while I was painting.

And I am feeling a little bit better today.

I am still in kind of a bad mood, but I do feel proud of myself because I know how to weather bad moods much better than I used to. I am a better emotion surfer.

I used to try to escape my bad feelings. Shove them down. Deny them. But I realized this wasn’t really fair to myself. When my friends are in bad moods or having a hard time, I do my best to sit with them and listen to them and accept them right where they are.

I decided I need to do that for myself, too.

Look, we have all bad days, bad months, bad years, bad moods. It happens. Life is really hard sometimes. And even when it is good, sometimes we still get in bad moods.

It’s okay. It’s normal.

This is “Trying”. 

How do you show compassion to yourself when you are in a bad mood? How do you surf the waves of your strong feelings? 

10 thoughts on “Bad Moods: When Everything is the Worst”

  1. Very nice paintings! Way to ride the feeling wave. Lord knows I definitely have my bad days… some days I’ll be feeling great about writing and querying and like I have a handle on it. The next day I’m in tears telling myself “It’s impossible!” Must be an artist thing! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, M.B. I really enjoy doing paintings like this. And I agree. I think being an artist often makes us more susceptible to these moods. It is a hard job, but someone has to do it! (And I am so interested in your current writing project! I want to know more.)

      1. I’m working on many things really haha! But the one I’m querying is a historical fiction novel. A teenaged girl in the modern day decides to interview a mean and isolated WWII veteran for a history term paper. Then the book follows him coming up in the great depression and fighting in western Europe when the war breaks out. Back in the present the girl realizes he’s so harsh because he never got over the war so they each get a new friend 🙂

  2. Sometimes on my good days I remind myself to be grateful because one of ‘those’ days are such normal part of life flow – I try my best to stay tuned so I am not absolutely alarmed with strong emotions – I remind myself they are temporary too.

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