How effectively can you manage what happens without any reason, stays for long time, is contagious and impacts the way of acting and behaving.
According to the definition, mood is a prevailing emotional tone or general attitude. What is the distinction between moods and emotions? Biologically they are similar: the reactions of many organs and systems of the human body, including muscular system, triggered by an impulse from the limbic brain.
We make a distinction that emotions are relatively brief experiences, lasting for few minutes , sometimes few hours. Moods are longer lasting experiences lasting for hours, days sometimes months and years. We are always in a mood, Emotional reactions happen from time to time.
Basically we don’t chose our moods and we can’t influence them. It is even difficult to judge if we have moods or our moods have us.
Emotions are bound to particular actions or events. Usually we can easily identify the events that triggered them. Normally we cannot relate moods to a particular event. In contrast moods directly impact our perception of what is possible and what is not, and thus they condition the actions that we take. Moods are our orientation to a given situation and our outlook on life.
Moods are like a lens through which we look at the future. They open and close possibilities in our life.
Imagine a Monday morning. You feel demotivated and resentful and your boss announces a big strategy and organizational change. How big chance have you to perceive it as a good opportunity for further career development? How does it impact your actions? And now, imagine that since the beginning of the day the world seems full of possibilities? How this mood may influence the perception of your role ? What actions become possible?
There is usually one of very few moods that are dominant in our life. We often think of others based on their dominant mood as being serious, joyful, cynical or resentful. What is your dominant mood?
Can we then manage our moods? Yes we can. We can’t control them fully but we can take an active stand. The way we manage our moods is critical to our success, relationships and happiness
Here you can find few steps that can be helpful.
3 first ones are necessary and should be taken one after the other. 3 next ones are tools that you can use separately or together.
Become aware of your mood. We can’t influence what we are not aware of. It is the first, necessary step. Allow yourself a little bit of time and move your attention from thinking to feeling. Feel it literally in your body.
Name your mood. Name WHAT are you feeling. Few examples that can be helpful at the very beginning: joy, happiness, peace, resentment, resignation, withdrawal , sadness , ambition, gratefulness, satisfaction
Don’t judge your mood. It is not so important whether it is positive or negative. It is more important whether your mood can serve you or not : today, in a moment, in a given situation. Does it serve your goals or life mission? Ambition may be very helpful at work but maybe not the best in close relationships. And opposite: being relaxed can serve you well during weekends but probably is not very helpful in reaching career goals.
3 ways to manage your moods, if needed
Moods are highly contagious- so get infected consciously. Chose people and situations that impact your mood in a way you want it. Who should you avoid and who to see more frequently? Maybe a walk in the forest or the atmosphere of a big city? A sport, a dance, particular music, a movie, or a book?
Check and ground your interpretations. Moods in a close relationship with our interpretation of the life. Biologically our automatic interpretations are based on simple associations that occur in the limbic brain. And they have a huge influence on our emotions and moods. Give a chance to your cortex to analyze if your automatic assessments are grounded. You can easily recognize your automatic interpretations as they are linear. For example: „ I made a mistake = I am not good enough = they will fire me”. Ground this, analyzing other situations and inputs. Often a partner who perceives the world from different perspective than you can be helpful . And plan some activities or conversations that can change your perceptions.
The most effective way in my opinion is through the body. The limbic brain and the body are in a direct connection.The limbic brain triggers reactions in the body, so impulses from the body can shape it in reverse. Physical balance induces mental and emotional balance.
Try with me. Move your attention from thinking to feeling self.
Stand up. Feel solidly grounded and at the same time feel the straightening. Relax all your muscles: feel the whole weight on your feet (or your sit bones if you are sitting). Relax your shoulders, jaws (should be slightly opened) and eyes. Have your feet at the same distance as your hips and shoulders.
Take a deep breath and feel your rib cage expanding horizontally. Pay attention to yourself and at the same time feel the space around you. Place your body in the equal distance between the back and the front. Bring your attention to your belly. Feel what is important to you. You are relaxed but fully alert and present.
Feel your mood: where is it located ? How physically do you feel it? Take a few deep breaths into the place of your body where you are feeling your mood located.
Anything is changing? Slightly ? Great step. Practice several times a day. You can do it standing, sitting or walking.
Let me know how it works for you.