“The first principle of cognitive therapy is that all your moods are created by your cognitions or thoughts. A cognition refers to the way you look at things – your perceptions, mental attitudes, and beliefs. It includes the way you interpret things – what you say about something or someone to yourself.” -David D. Burns, Adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the author of the best-selling books Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and The Feeling Good Handbook.
The quick answer to the title of this article is yes, being moody is quite normal. Let me tell you why and how you can learn to even them out just a bit.
Just as our thoughts are constantly changing, our moods are constantly shifting. We are up and we are down and then we are up again. We shift moods many times an hour and dozens of times per day. Some shift less often depending on their awareness, positive mindset, or natural disposition.
When we have a negative thought, it creates a negative emotion and when we focus on it long enough and begin to feed into it or believe it, it tends to linger and become a mood. We often experience two kinds: low moods and high moods.
“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet.
When we are in a high mood, things feel good, life seems easier, problems aren’t so bad and our outlook is positive. When we feel good, life looks better and people are assessed as having better motives for the things they do. We may even make excuses for them. High moods are when we think most clearly. It is during this state that we should discuss important issues and make important decisions.
When we are in a low mood, we have little perspective, we are constantly misinterpreting those around us and it seems like everyone is out to get us. When we are down, we should be kind to ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. Down moods are not a good time to have important discussions or make major decisions.
“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”-Robert H. Schuller, American televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker and author.
Contrary to what most of us do when we are feeling low, such as trying to think or figure things out, it is wise to question our perceptions and conclusions and simply ride out a bad mood until we feel better. This can be difficult since low moods bring a sense of urgency with them.
To alter our mood, the first thing we need to do is accept that there are ups and downs and become aware of what state we are currently in as each mood effects each outcome differently.
“Every time you feel depressed about something, try to identify a corresponding negative thought you had just prior to and during the depression. Because these thoughts have actually created your bad mood, by learning to restructure them, you can change your mood.” – David D. Burns
The way we view the world will change depending on our moods.
During low moods, we usually want to get things off of our chest. We become defensive and react in ways that we may later regret. This is how we end up hurting the feelings of those we love. We may say things during down times that we normally wouldn’t say and we end up apologizing and feeling guilt when we are back in our high state.
“The heart loves, but moods have no loyalty. Moods should be heard but never danced to.” -Hugh Prather, Writer, minister and counselor
When we live with people, it will also be helpful to take notice of their moods. If we notice that a loved one is experiencing a low mood, we should be a little more lenient. Give them space, acceptance, and by all means, don’t take their words to heart or confront them with something that is bothering you.
This is the worse time to attack someone when they are already feeling like the world is against them. The result will surely be destructive. We must ride out the moods of those we love as well as our own. With a little compassion and understanding, we may even be able to pull them back up more quickly.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -Dalai Lama, Current head monk of the school of Tibetan Buddhism
Keep in mind, when we are in a low mood, any decision we make or anything that we want to say to someone will seem completely just and reasonable at the time. Our goal should simply be to become more aware of the states we are in and ride them out while working to improve them when they are low.
It may be hard to pinpoint an actual thought or event that triggered the bad or sad mood. It can simply be a cloudy day or something we may have said or heard earlier but never brought it to light. If you have an uneasy feeling and just feel a bit down, focus instead on picking yourself back up. Consider reading my article 20 Ways To Bust a Bad Mood.
About the Author: Michelle C. Ustaszeski-Hutchinson is the Founder and Executive Editor of The Teen Mentor, LLC, based in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. She is a Personal Development Expert and The Faciliator of Wisdom. As co-author of 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Michelle teamed with some of the top motivational gurus such as Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Denis Waitley, and Joe Vitale in order to offer a compilation of self-improvement teachings. She has been quoted as a “Master of Success” among some of the worlds most famous thinkers and published in numerous books and on thousands of websites around the world. Read More…