“Don’t be so moody” a much-repeated comment from mothers of teenagers, partners (of both sexes) and many long-suffering friends. Yet is strikes me that this is a strange remark; we are constantly moody. All our actions (or lack of action) can be influenced by our mood. Every conversation or interaction will be impacted by our mood. Every decision we take, choice we make, every moment of our day is moody. Whether it is positive or negative is surely the real issue.
I do remember being grumpy in my teens; I was angry a good deal of the time. I chose to let the world know it by reflecting it in my mood and my appearance. I gave off a huge vibe that said “back off, unless you’re ready for an argument” and it worked. I achieved what I set out to achieve. I annoyed the grown-ups so they left me alone and I fascinated people of my own age who believed I was brave, anarchic, different. My mood dictated my surroundings and my interactions with others.
I live in constant pain. It’s part of a condition I have called EDS. It means I start my day, every day, by feeling the pain spread through my joints as I sit up. Some days are easier than others. The prospect of certain tasks could fill me with dread and allow my mood to plummet into a negative place. So, knowing this, and knowing that the mood I choose to start my day with will have a huge impact on it, I start every morning by declaring my mood for the day ahead. This morning, after a challenging night with the third dislocation in as many days, I chose caring as my mood for today. Caring for myself as well as for others. Caring about how I sit, to make sure I’m not in pain. Caring about eating regularly and giving myself plenty of breaks from the keyboard to rest my arm.
Seeing that I have the choice, that I can decide my own mood has been key to my ability to battle the odds in my personal and business journeys. I’m not suggesting that it’s always easy and indeed there are times when I feel the morning’s conviction slipping away. That’s ok. That is my signal to stop and observe. What am I doing that is causing this change in my mood? Have I slipped into an old habit or way of approaching something that has a negative impact on how I feel? I often have conversations, out loud, with myself at these moments and ask myself “ok, so you recognise this right? What did you do to create this?” Seeing the mood-habits we create, and asking ourselves why we choose to repeat them is a big step on the journey to owning our mood, our ability to chose it and take back ownership of it.
If you’re finding yourself going up and down on the mood swing, here are my top four tips for influencing my mood:
1) Start your day by choosing your mood and declare it. If you keep a diary, write it in there and you can look back and decide which were your best mood choices.
2) Take ownership. Stop saying things like “I’m in a bad mood” or “I’m moody”. Reinforcing these messages becomes an excuse. Own your moods and decide that you are able to change each one of them, at a moments’ notice.
3) Acknowledge your positive moods. It can be easy to focus on the negative, to remember the impact a bad or low mood has had on our day. Start looking for the positive moods, the uplifting or successful moments. Acknowledge these, and give no time to talking or thinking about the “moody” moments.
4) Take a look at your environment. As more and more of us work from home, we become isolated and this can have a huge influence on our mood. Is the space you are working in a positive one? Do you look forward to going into your office, or dread it? You don’t have to redecorate to change the feeling a room creates. Simply putting up pictures, cards, favourite quotes and knick-knacks can make it an environment that lifts your mood.
Take that “I’m moody” label off today – it really doesn’t suit or serve you. I’d love to know what positive moods you observed.