Everybody has thoughts that cause the mood elevator to soar to the top floors, then rapidly sink. Sometimes it stops at a certain floor for just a moment, but there are times when we stay there for a longer period of time.
The question is, which thoughts to feed and which thoughts will win?
Larry Senn, the author of The Mood Elevator, explains.
Feeding negative thoughts
Sometimes, worrying only comes for a second, but sometimes we are sad for a very long time. In extreme cases, these situations turn into a full-length horror film: we don’t skimp on the special effects, and then we have to face the catastrophic consequences.
And it’s not that worrying is bad. If you know how to handle it, it can even be useful.
Worrying will lead you to certain actions that will significantly improve life circumstances; it will become a good friend and a valuable ally.
I used to worry about every single thing, which had a noticeable impact on the quality of life.
I perfectly mastered the art of embellishing my anxiety, feeding negative thoughts, and projecting them onto events that might not have happened at all.
Then I decided that I needed to find the thought patterns and break them before it was too late.
This was supposed to be the key to change.
I really learned how to catch the moment when my worries turned into a real drama.
They started to take up too much space in my head, and the mood sharply deteriorated.
I tried to react to the situation by simply and gently saying to myself, “Don’t give in.” I stopped feeding my worries.
When we are angry, it often seems like we have the right to do so, we justify our emotions. “What has happened to me is completely unfair,” we say to ourselves (and to anyone who listens to us). “ It’s not about me. This is a question of fair treatment.”
But it is about you, and we can clearly see it in real life: we rarely worry about any injustice toward another person, but we do when it comes to us.
Of course, it happens that fate is really unfair: for example, the boss doesn’t offer you the promotion you deserve or a relative makes a mocking comment to you.
In such a situation, outrage and anger are quite understandable, and now in your mind, you’re a lawyer in front of a jury.
Like this lawyer, you focus on each fact and circumstance that supports your thought, completely ignoring those that blur it.
The longer you think about justice, the more unambiguous the situation becomes, and the less receptive you are to other people’s opinions.
And as strange as it may sound, the whole thought process brings us emotional satisfaction.
Fortunately, there is an alternative.
As soon as you feel that you are angry with another person, try to forgive them and put the negative out of your mind.
It’s not always that easy.
Arrogance, selfishness, low self-esteem, or heightened emotionality can only increase pain.
It will be more difficult to forgive the offender. Salvation is curiosity.
Instead of considering yourself a victim of unfair treatment, try to find an explanation for what happened.
Ask yourself: “What made this person behave like this?
What thoughts, beliefs, or emotions convinced the person that it was the right thing to do?”
Maybe your boss, who promoted another employee, just didn’t take into account how much you did for the company last year.
Maybe a friend who hurt you with inappropriate comments was just worried about something you don’t know.
You need to extinguish the fire of your anger instead of feeding it.
The sooner you break the spell you’re under, the better it will be for you (and for those around you).
The same applies to other negative feelings that we sometimes feed: impatience, insecurity, hypocrisy, the desire to judge and blame everyone around us.
If such moods happen more and more often, tear up this unhealthy pattern right away.
Get away from conflict, start playing sports or be with those who are usually in a good mood.
Choose the moods you will feed
Answer the following questions.
- 1. Are there things or people in your life that cause resentment or frustration?
If so, do you often concentrate on it, savor the details, and add fuel to the fire of your irritation?
- 2. Do you often feel irritated?
If so, do you feed this condition by complaining to family and friends?
- 3. Do you tend to worry about anything?
If yes, do you tend to dramatize, exaggerate the negative, and ignore real practical steps to reduce the danger or minimize it?
- 4. Do you have a habit of being always on guard and willing to defend yourself?
If so, do you feed these emotions by constantly reminding yourself of your weaknesses, past failures, and mistakes?
Do you completely forget about your strengths, victories, and achievements during this period of time?
- 5. Are there people that you constantly blame for something, and things that you often complain about?
If yes, do you pay attention to the problems of others?
Have you noticed that you’ve been keeping track of all the bad things they have done (completely losing sight of the same controversial things you have done)?
Here are a few examples.
- 1. Would you like to be more creative and think differently?
If yes, try to make a promise to yourself that you will let more unusual and original things in, whether in the workplace or in the personal sphere.
Be patient, think carefully, dream and play with new ideas.
- 2. Would you like to be more hopeful and optimistic about what is happening?
If so, take time during the day to think positively about the future. And then start taking certain steps to do what you want to do.
- 3. Would you like to appreciate what you have more?
If so, take time to think about the good things in your life and the people who make them possible.
Thank them directly (by saying something nice to a spouse, colleague, or friend) or symbolically (by praying for loved ones; you can even thank your ancestors for how much they have enriched your life).
- 4. Would you like to be more patient?
If so, just practice these qualities when possible.
Are you in a long line to the bank?
Use this time for a mini-meditation.
Annoying mistakes that a colleague makes through inattention?
Show them how to do this task.
- 5. Want to become more flexible and adapt more easily to the circumstances?
Feed these emotions by doing one new thing every day or doing something familiar differently.
It can be something very simple, such as finding a new route from home to work, or something truly meaningful and ambitious, such as helping to organize a new service in your city.
You don’t have to be a passive passenger in a mood elevator that can’t control anything.
Author bio: Roy is a literary enthusiast, a loving father of twins, a programmer in a custom software company, editor in chief of MechanicFAQ.com, a greedy reader, and a gardener.