Trauma Therapist Explains What Your Reactions To People's Moods Might Reveal About Your Upbringing

More often than not, it's not personal.

woman reacting to bad mood Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

According to a trauma therapist, if you often struggle with taking other people’s moods too personally, this behavior is likely rooted in childhood trauma and is the result of growing up with toxic parents. 

The therapist took to TikTok to share the two types of patterns these individuals usually exhibit, and what it reveals about their upbringing.

Patrick Teahan is a childhood trauma therapist and educator. He recently posted a video explaining that the reason why childhood trauma survivors feel so triggered by others’ moods is because they likely grew up with “extremely moody,” “aggressive,” or “tragic” parents.


He said there are two ways this response is wired in their minds.



RELATED: Mom With Two ‘No Contact’ Adult Sons Explains Why They Both Refuse To Speak To Her

1. You ‘overly take responsibility’ for other people’s moods

In this cognitive pattern, Teahan said that when faced with another person’s seemingly bad mood, your inner child believes you’re to blame. You likely exert excessive empathy and feel responsible for lifting the other person's mood because you feel like you somehow caused it — even if there’s no reason to believe so.


2. You’re ‘reactive and defensive’ against other people’s moods

With this mental wiring, somebody else’s negative mood triggers you to snap back with defensiveness, and probably even aggression. This behavior can escalate situations, causing both individuals to feel pitted against each other when in reality the reactivity and anger likely have nothing to do with the other person — and everything to do with your own pent-up, unprocessed emotions.

Teahan asked viewers to evaluate if identify with either, or both, of these patterns and consider where this behavior stems from.

He explained these patterns are trauma responses, and they are rooted in your childhood experiences with parents who made you feel like their moodiness was your fault. By becoming aware of how and when these patterns developed, you can learn to grow out of them and find peace within yourself.

By ‘reparenting’ your inner child, you can rewire your mind to respond to triggering situations with more grace. 

You might find yourself having a hard time moving forward from your traumatic childhood — this is completely normal. In another TikTok, Teahan explained this is likely due to your tendency to believe your present life is still connected to your younger years. 


"Your inner child is building a case, like a little lawyer, about how your present life is exactly like your childhood," he said.

For instance, let’s say your partner is in a bad mood, and you don’t know why. This will likely trigger you to respond with one of the patterns mentioned above, bringing you back to that same place of fear and trauma as when your parent projected their frustration onto you. You’ll likely feel responsible for your partner’s stress or you’ll get defensive toward them, even though their frustration has nothing to do with you.



RELATED: Psychologist Explains Why Forgiveness Sometimes Does More Harm Than Good & You Don't Owe It To Anyone


Additionally, when you perceive your life from a negative lens, constantly criticizing yourself with the same harmful phrases you may have heard as a child, you are only digging yourself further into a pit of hopelessness and despair. This inner conflict can inhibit you from finding the peace you deserve.

Teahan shared the impact of intentionally reparenting your inner child, cultivating more patience and kindness for yourself, and giving yourself grace for the experiences that affected you, which were out of your control. 

When you don’t reparent your inner child, this toxic behavior can go “rampant,” and it will jeopardize any progress or growth you have built for yourself. As you come across triggers, try to veer away from tying these experiences to the same ones you had as a child. Most of the time, other people’s low moods have nothing to do with you, despite what you might frequently tell yourself. 

Teahan emphasized the strength it takes to adopt awareness of the toxic patterns that are keeping you stuck.

In another TikTok, he encouraged viewers to embrace the strength of choosing to create a healthier life when they come from a family that tends to “cope in misery.” 


“Processing your childhood trauma and going towards it and being brave enough to do that is a flex when the toxic family just tends to put all of its energy into repressing everything that happened to them,” Teahan explained.



He further highlighted the significance of individuals being honest with themselves about their behaviors and traumatic experiences, rather than sinking into “emotional laziness,” denying the toxic feelings that may be consuming them. 

It’s certainly not easy to break the cycles that are inadvertently harming your growth — it's a process that takes time, effort, and consistency. 


It can be difficult to face your shadow self and acknowledge the unhealthy generational patterns you may be repeating. This is why it’s necessary to always question and evaluate your responses to uncomfortable situations, striving to understand them from a place of curiosity, rather than helplessness. 

RELATED: Only Child Of ‘Broke Boomers’ Who Didn’t Save For Retirement Now Has To Take Care Of The Parents Who Never Cared For Her

Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, adventure and spirituality topics.