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Dear Dania: Help, I’m a Moody Partner!

Dear Dania,

My partner and I have been arguing quite a bit over the past few months and a common complaint has been my moodiness. I’ve spent some time trying to unpick it and came to a depressing realisation: my parents paid closest attention to me when I was experiencing intense emotions, and that felt soothing. Now as an adult, being excessively moody has become natural and normal in response to stressful and unhappy situations.

I know this isn’t healthy or fair to those around me and I need to change, but it’s pretty deep in me. How do I go about uprooting something that’s been part of me for so long?

Thanks,

Sam*

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Dear Sam*,

Thank you for your letter.

I am sorry to hear about your current struggle. The pressure of the past presses down like an official stamp, leading you to believe that you are only worth of attention when you are moody. The wetness and darkness of the ink serves as a reminder of a painful realisation – mum and dad are noticing me more because they can see that I am upset. So can the ink be washed off? And, if so, how long will it take to disappear? Let’s find out.

I’ve used ink as a metaphor for your belief system. As children, the experiences that we go through, positive and negative, will inevitably shape our sense of self. For example, if we get bullied over the way we speak, we may inadvertently start to believe that, in order to be accepted, we must speak differently (i.e. our way of talking is essentially not good enough). In your particular case, it would seem that as a child you didn’t feel seen/heard by your parents. Children are very astute. More often than not, they may adopt survival tactics to get noticed. From what you said in your letter, we can assume that you may have unconsciously believed that in order to be seen, and therefore survive, you had to be experiencing intense emotions. In other words, you did what you had to do.

Although it was once a life raft, this survival tactic now seems to shock those around you. Do you feel that you are still not seen or heard? If you felt comfortable enough to do so, could you have a conversation with your loved ones and convey to them what it is that you need? If you aren’t sure about your needs, here are some questions that you can ask yourself:

  • When interacting with those closest to me, how do I know if I’m being seen/heard? E.g. Through eye contact, active listening?
  • In stressful or unhappy situations, could I be vulnerable and tell those around me how I am feeling and why? And is there anything that they could do or say to soothe me?

I suspect that the spectre of the past may be haunting your current relationships. If you could get in touch with that younger part of yourself, your inner child, what would you say to them? That young child feels alone and maybe even a little bit neglected. Perhaps you could reassure them of their worth, validate their feelings and empathise with them. Be there for that child, they need your support.

Remember that changing core beliefs is no easy task – it a challenging process which will require patience. Your inner child doesn’t want to let go of those behaviours just yet, so work on making that part of you feel wanted and seen.

For more information/tips please click here or alternatively you may want to consider full time therapy as a course of action.

I wish you all the best.

Your sincerely,

Dania

Dear Dania is for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a mental-health professional, or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We may edit your letter for length and/or clarity.

*The author’s identifying details have been changed in order to protect their privacy.

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