Many a year ago, I used to be a very moody person. I could pull away and brood for record amounts of time. But luckily that’s way back in my rearview mirror. So today, when I see clients who cop to being moody or have a cranky partner, I know what’s going on and how they can get over it.
Moods can seem to descend for no particular reason. They obscure our experience for hours, days, weeks, or even longer. Left unattended, they shape our personalities and determine the quality of our lives. We can think that we have no control over our moods but the truth is quite the contrary.
We get overtaken by a mood when we have an emotional reaction to a specific event and don’t process our sadness, anger, or fear physically and constructively. Because we don’t speak up and handle the situation, it festers. We feed our mood with our own story, our own thoughts about how impossible our situation is.
Here are five steps to getting the upper hand over any mood:
1. Trace back in time to identify exactly when the mood began by looking at various past time frames and determining if you were feeling it then. No matter its magnitude or duration, something upsetting happened that triggered your feeling. It could have been as simple as an edgy interaction, an intense argument, or disappointment over a change of plans. Pinpoint the event by asking yourself, “When did I start feeling like this?” or, “When was the last time I remember feeling okay?”
2. When you have identified exactly when your mood started, process the event emotionally. That means, cry if you feel sad, hurt or helpless; move your anger out of your body because you’re probably miffed about someone’s words or actions; and shiver because you feel scared and anxious, and it feels like you’re in survival mode.
3. Restore the perspective. When you’re in the thick of unexpressed emotions, your thinking becomes skewed. Now that you’ve dealt with them, what’s the larger, objective reality? What would a neutral third party say about this situation? Remind yourself of the broader view, such as “This feeling is temporary. I can handle it.”
4. Consult your intuition to decide what you need to say or do to resolve the event. Ask yourself questions such as “What’s the high road?” “What will get us feeling connected again?” What specifically do I need to communicate? To whom? What points need to be covered and what request do I need to make so that the future will hold more joy, love, and peace?
5. Speak up and take action. So now that you’re not emotionally swamped, you can get clear about what you need to do to resolve the specific event. Follow through and you will find that your mood will lift and you’ll feel almost instantly better.
It’s easy to fall under the spell of a negative mood but equally easy to dissolve it, if you trace back to find the moment it got triggered and deal with just that specific event. Speak up and take action, and almost like magic, you’ll feel much more connected and present.