At any given moment, you might have a very good reason for being in a bad mood:
“I didn’t get enough sleep last night, so I’m in a funk.”
“He didn’t listen to me, which made me so angry”
“I am tired and cranky…”
“I don’t have enough time to get this all done. I’m so overwhelmed.”
“This whole day didn’t go like I wanted. I’m so frustrated.”
“He was supposed to do X for me, and now I’ll have to do it. I’m so disappointed.”
“I am scared if X doesn’t happen, Y will fall through.”
Many of us go through life this way- oscillating between bad mood/good mood. Bad mood…good mood. If you’re like me, you can look back on whole days, weeks or months of your life when you were in a bad mood, life sucked, and everything you did seemed to fail.
Then I discovered one of the greatest revelations of my life: I don't ever have to be in a bad mood.
Bad Moods are Ego Juice
Let me tell you a secret: you don't enjoy being in a bad mood, but your ego does. I talk a lot about the ego, that little “me me me” voice that sees the world as the enemy and itself as a victim. If you're ever having a victim-like thought (these are: “This is so unfair!” “There's nothing I can do to change this!” “He/she is SO mean.” “My life would be great if this one thing were just gone.” “I hate having to deal with this.”) then you're listening to the ego.
“The ego is neither bad nor an enemy, but merely an illusion to release so that something far better can replace it.” -Dissolving the Ego, David Hawkins and Scott Jeffrey
The ego is an illusion. You don't have to believe the thought, “This is unfair” because it's not true. It's just a thought, just an option of all the things you can think.
All negative emotions persist because of their secret payoff. When this “ego juice” is declined, thoughts tend to diminish and then disappear.” -David Hawkins and Scott Jeffrey, Dissolving the Ego
What happens to a lot of us is that we pay attention to the ego. We start listening to its stories and then we feed them with more ego juice (negative emotions). “Yeah, it is unfair! And because of that, I had to do five extra things I wouldn't have had to do today. I'm so overwhelmed. I just don't have time for all of this!”
“Nothing comes from without. All things come from within.” Neville Goddard
Bad moods imply victimhood. When you say, “I’m in bad mood,” you’re absolutely saying, “I choose to be in a bad mood.” You can also choose to be in a good one. You don’t have to do anything to make the switch- just decide to be happy!
There is nothing external that can affect you. It’s only what you think, and how you feel about what you think, that affects you. So how do you change what you think?
“We are disturbed not by events, but by the views which we take of them.” -Epictetus
Tell a Different Story
Instead of telling the story of unfairness and bitterness and feeling overwhelmed, you could hear the thought, “This is so unfair” and… do nothing. Don’t pay attention. Instead, think of a better thought. Think about how grateful you are that you chose to be here in this moment, and that it's unfolding perfectly. If it’s a work situation, think of how grateful you are that you have a job and can pay the bills and support your family. Think of the luxuries that job provides for you (even simple luxuries like hot water for a warm bubble bath, or that incredible meal you made last night).
If you’re struggling to be grateful, do what I call “Emergency Gratitude.” This is being grateful for the immediate things you can see, feel, touch, and hear. “I’m grateful that the sun is coming through that window. I’m grateful for that plant. I’m grateful to be wearing shoes. I’m grateful for this moment.”
For life’s more difficult moments, when I’m in the middle of a hard choice, or when I would normally struggle not to argue with someone or get angry, I think, “I’m grateful I have the choice whether or not to get angry. I’m grateful that this person cannot make me angry- only I can. I’m grateful that I can rise above this situation and see it differently.”
And you can be grateful that you have the opportunity to reframe that whole story into one of empowered choices instead of being the victim.
Four Fast and Easy Steps to Change Your Mood
1) Tell a different story. This is incredibly helpful for me when I’m changing a feeling for the first time. If I am remembering this deeply embedded story of how angry I get when X happens, I need to rewrite that story. For example, I used to get very angry when I encountered someone who I perceived talked down to me. Now I know this is just a story- and the person might not have intended that tone at all! But the trick I use is this: if I still truly believe that person is doing that thing, I laugh. I like laughing much more than I like being angry. Being angry is no fun- laughing is great fun. So now I tell the story, “When someone talks down to me, I laugh, because I’m so happy and joyful that we are all one.”
2) Ask yourself, “Does this emotion feel good?” The other day, I started to feel frustrated during an interaction with a loved one. I thought, “Wow, does this frustration feel good?” And it didn’t. So I stopped feeling frustrated and decided to feel curious instead. (You can decide to feel any other way- choose the emotion that seems most fun for the situation.)
3) Ask yourself, “Do I feel victimized?” “This person is making me feel frustrated/angry/annoyed/scared/etc.” Impossible! Not even slightly true, you sly little ego! That’s a victim thought, and no one can make me feel anything. The empowering thought is, “I was choosing to feel frustrated a moment ago. What would I like to feel, instead?”
4) Feel something good. Think of something else, if you need to. Think of the last amazing interaction that you had with that person. Think of them in their underwear. Think of both of you smiling, running through a field of daisies together. Laugh. When you change the energy of how you feel, the situation will change for the better, too.
Bonus: Are you telling yourself that you have this thing called habit and it's making you think negative thoughts, because you've spent a lot of time thinking negative thoughts in the past?
That’s a story too! I’m covering Habits more in-depth in my next post.
If this helped you, I would be so grateful if you would share this post via Facebook or Twitter, or post about it on your blog. Thank you!