Coping with a bad mood

Clouds touched by sunlightWhere do bad moods come from? This question is at the heart of the answer to coping with a bad mood. And the answer might not be what you expect.

Conventional wisdom has it that your mood comes from circumstances. You have had a “bad day” at work. The commute home was fraught with delays. The kids have been badly behaved. Someone was rude to you at the supermarket. Your team lost the big match. The dinner you cooked was spoilt.

Whatever the circumstances, there are no no end of reasons for being in a bad mood. That is until you learn how our psychological reality is created.

In the understanding from which I work, all of these reasons boil down to one spiritual fact: we think. None of these circumstances creates our mood. It is our thinking about them that does so.

Consider for a moment the fact that two people can be in the same traffic jam and experience it quite differently. One may be frustrated and angry; the other relaxed and enjoying listening the car radio. Same traffic – different experience. And you’ve probably been in similar traffic on different days and felt differently each time.

The difference is not the outside world, but what goes on in our mental lives.

Each thought we have is tied to a feeling. You can’t think happy thoughts and feel sad, or vice versa. That’s just not how the system works.

What are the traditional ways of dealing with a bad mood?

A quick look around shows quite a choice. Take a relaxing bath. Have a massage. Take some exercise. Meditate. Think positively. Use affirmations. Watch a funny movie. The list goes on.

Many of these seem to work. But they have one flaw. They are based on an outside-in view of the world. I mean that they assume (again) that circumstances outside will change what’s going on inside.

A relaxing bath can work, but it is not the warm water and peaceful surroundings that cause the change in mood. Rather it is your thinking that has changed. Have you ever been in that same relaxing bath and found yourself thinking dark thoughts? Well it’s not the bath that causes either good or bad moods. It is your thinking.

So what is the alternative approach to coping with bad moods?

Once you understand that you are experiencing the feeling of your thinking then things begin to change all on their own.

I find that there’s a peace at the heart of a bad mood, if you just let it be. That advice — to do nothing — seems counter-intuitive but it works. If it didn’t we’d all be stuck in our bad moods forever.

When you are in a bad mood there is comfort in knowing that a new thought will be along. In the meantime this is not the time to address the big issues in your life. Watch what you say and remember that your low mood is reflected in the quality of your thinking. Your thinking is not to be trusted.

If you begin to see the connection between your thoughts and your feelings, your inner wisdom will naturally assert itself. Human beings are programmed towards feeling good and away from feeling bad. Your wisdom, knowing that your thoughts are leading to bad feelings, will naturally return you to a more positive state in time.

Your bad mood is like the clouds that temporarily hide the sun. Behind the mood there is always your wisdom and health, and like the sun it can only temporarily be hidden. Eventually your wisdom will shine through.

While you wait for that to happen you can explore how your thoughts are creating your reality moment by moment. That exploration is something that will help you immensely in all aspects of your life.

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