Sometimes I get in a strange mood for no obvious reason and can’t seem to shift it. Vague moods like melancholy, low level anxiety, the blahs.
When I get like this—out of sorts—I use a technique I found in one of Michael Neill’s books, and it goes like this:
I’m feeling X…
And that means X…
That’s it. Simple. And so effective for identifying the actual emotion, what triggers it, and the story built up around it. Silly, unimportant—gone!
Getting to grips with what’s really bugging us, what we’reactuallyfeeling, can do wonders. For instance, the emotion of anger could actually be resentment, which could actually be fear of humiliation.
Then the ‘Because…’ illuminates. Someone raised an eyebrow and it reminded you of a teacher who used to do that and made you feel inadequate or humiliated. Triggered!
‘And that means…’ We build up stories around everything that happens to us. They can be supportive, or unsupportive. Usually not true. We can change the story. Delete!
Or frequently some small event sets off a chain of thinking that culminates in a sour mood. It was that weird film I watched last night that put me in this state. Reminded me of someone I used to know. What happened to him? Oh, he died in a car crash. Mood! Gone!
A missing piece?
At times however, there seems to be something missing, a further step needed for those stubborn emotions that won’t let go.
I found the missing piece, the elusive next step, in a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, the well known Vietnamese monk and teacher.
Thich says we first need to identify, acknowledge, and recognize what is causing our suffering.
Here’s the key (that made me sit up). We need to look deeply at the emotion and discover “the kinds of nutriments that have helped it come to be and continue to feed it.”
Ah. Bingo. There we are. How am I feeding and nourishing this negative story? Until I stop feeding it, the emotion’s not going anywhere.
How do we nourish emotions? That part is easy—TV, Internet, social media, books, people we hang out with, gossip, politics, news.
But also there’s our constant self-talk that reinforces the negative story and keeps it alive and kicking. Just waiting to be triggered.
Next time you notice that story repeating itself in your mind, simply say, Not now! And bring something more positive to mind.
Cut off the feed and the emotion cannot thrive.
This always works for me.
So, to recap:
I’m feeling X… (emotion, really drill down)
Because X… (trigger)
And that means X …(story you tell yourself about it)
And I am nourishing this by X… (What is keeping this story alive)
Try it and let me know how it works for you.
PS If you would like help dealing with negative emotions then I can help! I have over 20 years’ experience coaching people to let go of stuff (technical term) that’s not helping them.
Contact me here and we can discuss booking a 1 hour, online session. Easy, no fuss, affordable.
If you live in San Miguel de Allende we can meet one-to-one in a private, open air setting.
The other day I woke up in a melancholy mood. “The bittersweet melancholy of another new dawn”, as my poet friend Scott Hastie expresses it so nicely.
I rarely get depressed, and then not for long, and I’m usually an upbeat, positive sort, so a melancholy mood felt strange. I didn’t know what to do with it, quite literally. I felt out of sorts, kind of off balance. Why, I wondered? Nothing bad was going on in my life, and all was well.
Have you had this happen?
As I examined it more closely I realized it was due to several things, all unrelated. I had watched a disturbing film the night before, several people had unsubscribed to my list (turns out they were on the wrong list), the sales on one of my books was down, and a client had cancelled her appointment due to illness.
Big deal! None of it important or earth shattering. Each on its own something I wouldn’t even blink at. Yet I had managed to pull them all together into a rather unpleasant tale and was unconsciously sending this charming message to myself—Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms!
As soon as I woke up to this, it all went away and I was fine. No worms were harmed in the writing of this.
It got me thinking. While I was indulging my melancholy outlook, I got nothing done. The day was blue, I was blue, and nothing was going to get accomplished in that state.
What is a mood?
A mood is a generalized emotional state, which forms your attitude, and colors how you look at the world. Your frame of mind so to speak. So we have cranky, sour, melancholy moods, as well as peaceful, optimistic, blissful moods, and oh, don’t forget that seriously general mood, the blahs.
Every mood is a narrative,
…a story we have concocted around what is happening in our lives. Frequently it’s not even current stuff, but something triggered from the past. So we can get grumpy about something that happened 20 years ago without even knowing why.
We are not conscious we are creating the tale. We only feel the mood.
Our moods are more important than most of us realize. Successful people have control of their moods. They don’t let them take over and ruin their day. They push back against the dictator and create empowering moods.
Unhappy people don’t have control over their moods, which are usually of failure, or defeat, or inadequacy.
Moods rule our lives and dictate the kind of results we get in life. Mood matters.
The good news is you can control your mood and can always choose a useful one.
I use a technique (from Michael Neill) for mood control THAT WORKS EVERY TIME! It’s only 3 steps, so I encourage you to memorize it. You never know when it will come in handy.
This is how you dig out a bad mood and drag it blinking and snarling into the light of day. Leave the good ones alone. They are working for you.
Here we go. When you have a strange mood, and you don’t know the cause, complete these 3 sentences.
1) I’m feeling…….
(List all the words you can think of to describe your mood. Get as specific as possible. Remember, moods are general so home in on it.)
(List all the possible triggers that come to mind. It’s usually more than one.)
3) Which means…..
(Aha, here is the story, the narrative. What nonsense are you telling yourself about these events?)
When you look at the narrative you have uncovered, usually a blatant and silly generalization of unlinked occurrences, you can simply spin it. Find a new story, unlink the causes, and reframe all of it.
Every mood is a narrative.
Every narrative can be rewritten, so if you don’t like the mood, change the story.
Honestly, this is deceptively powerful and effective. Please try it.
If you would like help identifying and exposing some killer moods then contact me for a session either online or in person here in San Miguel de Allende. I’d love to help you make this work. Remember, if you don’t control your moods, then your moods control you! Contact me here.