Moods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; there are moods for everything. Some moods are for feeling down, depressed, excluded, angry and just plain upset. There are other moods for generosity, helpfulness, love, compassion and openness. There are moods that are just for feeling tired, listless and wanting to be on your own. One of the most 'popular' moods is sulking. Everyone gets affected by that mood.
Negative and bad moods are the worst because they seem to just make you feel terrible. Moods that help you feel positive, well and optimistic come and go. We often say 'I hope this good mood lasts', or we might say we are in a mood. Both indicate the characteristics of what moods are and we tend to create and inhabit the inside of our moods. But the good news is they are not permanent.
Moods are restricting
When we say we are ‘in a mood’, we are actually inside a self-made mental and emotional construct. Sometimes the moods you create stay. They cut you off from the outside. You may think they may offer some protection, but they are hard to move around in. Sometimes a bad mood can be overwhelming and suffocating and will feel like it will never lift. It can be a crippling and restricting negativity. David Lynch described this as:
When people say to you, 'for goodness sake, snap out of your mood!', it just makes it worse. Snapping out of a bad mood is really challenging; sometimes we need to do something distracting in order to help lift negative mindsets. And in many ways that's the key, but rather than distraction, change perspective instead.
It's time to pay attention
When we create our own bad mood it's only because we're not paying attention properly. We find ourself in a cycle of continuous, mental rumination. The same thoughts go round and round and the longer they stay with you, the more you identify and own them. In yoga science this continuous, mental rumination is referred to as, 'vritti' – a Sanskrit word which translates as ‘whirlpool’. Does that sound familiar? It often means we become overwhelmed and can eventually get sucked downwards into a negative mood.
The source of the bad mood relates directly back to how we think about ourselves and our interaction with the world. Bad moods happen when we realise that the outside world does not match the world you've created inside your head.
That inner world sees you as the hero of your own story. You are the central actor in a world whose sole purpose is for you to be accepted, admired, successful, powerful and happy. In your head, you are in total control of the world so that you don't end up playing the fool. That would really put you in a bad mood.
The problem is that the outer world doesn't play by the same rules. It's real, for one. When we know we can't control it or shape it to match the mental world we've created, that really puts us in a bad mood. It's exhausting and stressful.
Change perspective to improve your mood
So the trick to lifting yourself out of a bad mood is to change your perspective away from the distracting, suffocating, fictitious world you have created and towards what's really going on. Modern meditation is the key and so as David Lynch continues to tell us:
This change of perspective we're so keen to mention is a skill you can learn; even better, it will not only benefit you directly, it will be of benefit to those around you too.
Next time you find yourself building another bad mood just step back, change perspective and watch it. Don't analyse it, or think about where it's come from and why it’s there, just watch it. You'll then notice something interesting happens once you stop identifying with how you feel – then the mood lifts.
We do not need to be held captive by our moods any more. Are you ready to get started?