Bad moods are always going to be something we put up with, either in others or ourselves. Analyzing moods doesn't help matters much, but discussing certain actions and reactions can help. In my case, dealing with bad moods is a daily ordeal, because in the business I work in, there are always several options for things to go wrong in the course of a day, many of which are beyond your control and therefore can be frustrating. Plus, one of the workers happens to be one of my closest friends, which adds a nice little twist to things.

One time, Sandi, having gone off her Zoloft in anticipation of a future doctor's appointment which was intended to put her on a more reliable prescription for her borderline personality, made a statement for the day. She said, "I'm in a bad mood and people are just going to have to deal with me." Since she said it aloud, there was to be no confusion about what was due to transpire during that day, and according to her, we were supposed to take it, given the understanding that everyone has a bad day and we all must extend grace to one another because we work in close quarters and like to get along.

As far as I can tell, there are two ways you can react to this sort of statement. You can either avoid that person like the plague, let her blow off steam and not take anything she says personally, no matter how much she vents onto you. Or you can become tempted to exchange venom for venom. While the former attitude is more mature, the latter is often the path taken, both by myself and Sandi. It usually comes out in an aftermath of words spoken when the other person has left the room, usually to an audience of bystanders to the event.

My feelings are that while everyone has a bad day, I don't think anyone has the right to put me a position where I am tempted to be a bitch to them as a counter-reaction. I mean, when someone's rude to you and you don't necessarily deserve it, one of your options is to respond in kind, not always because you feel that way, but because it's a natural reaction to rudeness. It is almost impossible to not react in some kind of way to someone else's bad attitude, even if it's rolling your eyes or slamming something down a little harder than is necessary.

So I told her that this isn't fair, that I'm not going to play by her rules, that I don't care if everyone else gets to do it, because no one does it to this degree. These are the times when I get tired of trying to be nice, to tolerate everyone else's drama when I find myself picking up the slack. And when I don't get support from my co-workers, how can I be expected to support them unconditionally when I seem to get disregarded? My problem is that I care too much about my job and not enough about the people at my job. My problem is that I don't seem to have enough problems of my own to distract me from having to deal with other people's problems indirectly.

Your friend Sandi, however impolitic, was right.

You did just "have to deal" with her that day. You did not have to be nice to her, you did not have to talk to her, you did not have to avoid her or do any other one specific thing. Rather, you had to adjust all of the actions you would have performed anyway around the difficulties that her mood presented. You chose one way to "deal" with her. Your colleagues may have chosen a different way. No matter what course of action each of you took, she stood in your path like a rock jutting up in the path of a stream. And you were bothered by the incident, which is to say that it affected you despite your attempts to thwart it.

No, it's not fair. Even if you were the sort of person who wallows in "niceness" and good cheer every minute of every day of your life, it still would not be fair to put that sort of a strain on your emotional resources. And let's face it, humans are not rocks. They can choose whether or not to put us in that situation. So what are we to do?

Aside from the typical psychological drivel about not being defined by the situation, of course.

I say, go with the rock theory. Sandi is a rock in the path of your psychological stream. Chop at her with a big hammer.

You still lose, though, because you still had to "deal" with her.

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