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How to live with our own sulks and those of the people around us

6 Comments
By Michael Hoffman

Humans are moody beasts. We feel good, we feel bad, sometimes knowing why, sometimes not. “Woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” we say of ourselves and others who refuse to be cheered by warm sunshine, happy birdsong, good music or any of the consolations of life, preferring, it seems, to wallow in gloom. Well, let it be. We’re entitled to our bad moods every once in a while.

Still, good moods are better, and the monthly PHP magazine (March) wonders whether we can’t do more to produce them. Failing that, how to live with our own sulks and those of the people around us?

Actress Kaho Minami has one idea: “My ‘I’ of today is made up of the people I meet today” – true to some degree of all of us, with obvious implications. Fill your day with congenial people and end the day as you began it, with a smile.

Easily said, less easily done. Few of us choose the colleagues we work with, the customers we serve, the bosses bearing down on us. Psychiatrist Tomosuke Inoue, a specialist in workplace issues, offers the familiar example of the approaching office deadline. Irritability rises, tempers flare. Everyone’s? No, and that’s interesting. “Some people,” Inoue observes, “whatever the pressure, never lose their high spirits. Have you ever wondered what’s different about them?”

They’re older and wiser maybe, with wider experience that allows a wider perspective. Or maybe they’ve learned early not to be buffeted by every ill wind that blows, and there’s always an ill wind blowing somewhere, weathering fair moods and turning them foul if you let it, and a foul mood grown chronic, Inoue warns, can burgeon into mental illness.

Minami has something to say about that which has nothing to do with work. Home can be no less fraught – if for instance you catch your partner, as she caught hers, in a love affair. “I couldn’t eat, couldn’t talk, couldn’t sleep, I was no longer human.” That’s more than a bad mood – it’s clinical depression. Strangely, the psychiatric diagnosis confirming it as that was comforting. It told her what she had to deal with, and gave her the strength to take herself in hand. She discovered, along with much else, the consolatory power of good food. When the blow first strikes you doubt you’ll ever enjoy anything again, let alone something so homely as a meal. But time, little by little, does blunt pain, faster if you give it a push.

So much depends on how you look at things, says Inoue. Consider, he says, another familiar office situation: you screw up. Your boss rounds on you, your coworkers snicker, your fears risk getting the better of you – will it mean demotion? Or worse? Even if it doesn’t, the emotional burden of knowing yourself at fault, knowing the cost to the company in terms of money and reputation, can put you in a very grim mood by the time you get home to your family.

Maybe, in fact, something of that sort is behind an instance raised by counselor Emi Tanimoto. Your partner comes home moody and takes it out on you – refusing to speak to you, or snapping at you, and generally making your life miserable to the point of wishing you were anywhere other than at home which should be a refuge with your partner who should be a comfort. Normally the ill humor passes and is soon forgotten; not always, though, and in some households it rises, says Tanimoto, to the level of moral harassment. You begin to wonder, she says, whether your partner chose you as a lover or as a target.

“Maybe it’s my fault,” you think – the more readily as your partner typically presents quite a different face to others, and those you may seek to confide in simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

What to do? If there’s really no one to confide in, you’re on your own – in which case, Tanimoto advises,” Go off somewhere and be by yourself for a while.” Where? “A coffee shop, a public library” – there’s always somewhere – and “get some emotional distance.” What do your thoughts tell you? Maybe go home to your parents for a time? Go traveling on your own? You’ll come back, maybe, to find your partner softened, having reflected in turn. Maybe it’ll all work out. Maybe it won’t. Should you separate permanently? There are agonizing decisions to be made.

Inoue’s story of the office blunder is much less grim. It has a happy ending. It’s up to you – and it’s surprising how much really is up to you, as he sees it. You can, for instance – and perhaps anyone can – give a negative occurrence a positive spin. The boss isn’t riding you but teaching you, not haranguing you but initiating you. Listen and learn.

Often it’s not so easy. You may need to “take a good look at yourself,” and the “mirror” he speaks of seems to be literal. Look at yourself in the mirror; it’s a form of self-examination which, as it proceeds, may remind you that, after all, your plight is not exceptional, others have done and suffered worse, and survived, maybe come out stronger; so will you, if you will it. Enough of this bad mood. Go out and smell the flowers. Life goes on.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

6 Comments
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What to do about our own sulks - to go into therapy and get stuff solved if possible. Any sulk has its reasons, our job is to find them, once we find them theres some job to do but its worth it.

what to do about others sulks - to keep the record and see where its going and how far do they want to go, with your eyes wide open.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Not been in the rat race since 1990, been self employed since, been very tough at times but given me an interesting and happy life, wouldn’t change a thing. Working in an office can be like torture, you’re confined possibly with people that are annoying. Commenting etc can be a right pain, glad I escaped that, might have made more income if I’d got me head down and got promoted, what’s the point if you’re not content?

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What a way to spend your one life in this universe in a cubicle surrounded by people you dolike.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Eagles had a good way of putting it..."Get over it!". Worked (and still does) for me.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oh my furrs!

I need to comments on this article in more detail. Let's analyze it step by step.

How to live with our own sulks and those of the people around us

The title suggests that at the end of the story you will receive some useful and effective advice from the author as well as from all the mentioned honourable specialists but:

Maybe go home to your parents for a time? Go traveling on your own? You’ll come back, maybe, to find your partner softened, having reflected in turn.

I guess people can figure out as much by themselves already, no?

Maybe it’ll all work out. Maybe it won’t.

Amazing reassurance.

Psychiatrist Tomosuke Inoue,

a specialist in workplace issues, offers the familiar example of the approaching office deadline. Irritability rises, tempers flare. Everyone’s? No, and that’s interesting. “Some people,” Inoue observes, “whatever the pressure, never lose their high spirits. Have you ever wondered what’s different about them?”

Its really heart breaking to read these lines from a certified professional as an advice to someone who assumably may be in critical need of psychological support and in a state of high mental distress, which is actually not an advice but just description of what the office tension is usually like (which many people know already well enough) and all that is suggested is to look at those I dare say very rarely seen people who never lose it whatever the pressure is and to compare yourself with them and then what? Feel better all of a sudden?

They’re older and wiser maybe, with wider experience that allows a wider perspective. Or maybe they’ve learned early not to be buffeted by every ill wind that blows,

Put yourself in the place of his client, you came to the counselling and he starts vast philosophical reflections using word 'maybe' in every single sentence. where your poor psyche arrive at the end of the session? There are so many more appropriate terms to list reasons why some people are more reselient and they are - genetics, inborn or developed psychical and mental illnesses or attributes, family systems and family cultures they are born and broughtup into, natural temperament and overall life history events etc.

But time, little by little, does blunt pain, faster if you give it a push.

In case of clinical depression as well as psychological trauma time without proper therapy only makes pain worse and may lead to suicide.

“Maybe it’s my fault,” you think – the more readily as your partner typically presents quite a different face to others, and those you may seek to confide in simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

Thats a typical example of self-gaslighting and a sign your partner is a narcissist.

What to do? If there’s really no one to confide in, you’re on your own – in which case, Tanimoto advises,” Go off somewhere and be by yourself for a while

I think a better advise would be: find a safe space with someone qualified to confide in, a therapist, a counsellor, a coach who is informed both in family psychology and emotional abuse. They presumably will help you release negative emotions, help you sort it out things like what you think is acceptable in the relationship and what's not. Also an honest conversation with your partner about their conduct is a must to see whether they are ready to take responsibility and commit to mend their behaviour patterns in the future.

and it’s surprising how much really is up to you, as he sees it. You can, for instance – and perhaps anyone can – give a negative occurrence a positive spin. The boss isn’t riding you but teaching you, not haranguing you but initiating you. Listen and learn.

Yes, it's up to you whether to tolerate emotional abuse of others or change a job for example or leave a narcissistic partner. Because the other party is also making a choice, right? That is to disrespect you and invalidate you and bring you down and scream at you and then say its just helping you become better. They can always make another choice to help you become better in another way, shape or form, but they don't. 'Their bad choice though cannot remain your prison'

after all, your plight is not exceptional, others have done and suffered worse, and survived, maybe come out stronger; so will you, if you will it. Enough of this bad mood. Go out and smell the flowers. Life goes on.

Denial. Invalidation. Gaslighting. Major disrespect towards other persons feelings. A certified mental health professional is never allowed to say such horrible things.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This article has left me very depressed.

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