It is easy to get attached to the feeling of a good mood. It is understandable to want try to hold on to a good feeling or try to recreate it. Self-help and mainstream psychology focus on teaching techniques to help us control and manipulate our moods so we feel good. They create an illusion of vulnerability by teaching us something is wrong when we are in a low mood, and we should try to change it.
The challenge is, we are not capable of controlling our moods. It is impossible to never have a low mood. Fluctuation of mood is a normal part of human experience. Therefore, rather than trying to do the impossible and control our moods, it is more helpful to understand how our experience is created and what is going on when we are in a low mood. This allows us to see we are fine no matter how we feel, and to recognize there is absolutely no need to try to control our experience. We can function quite well independent of whatever our mood is when we aren’t scared by our feelings.
What we feel is the result of the thoughts we believe in the moment. We may or may not be conscious of our thoughts, but what we believe is what we feel. If I believe I am a loser, I will feel unworthy and not good enough. If I believe I am amazing, I will feel uplifted and inspired. Of course I prefer to feel uplifted and inspired rather than unworthy and not good enough. That is where self-help and psychology come to the rescue. They provide an array of techniques designed to minimize negative thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, however, using techniques can be a lot of work, and when we are in a low mood we often don’t have the willingness or energy to use a technique. This often gets added to the list of self-judgments present when we are in a low mood. The other problem with techniques is they reinforce the illusion there is a problem to be fixed, rather than pointing out that any suffering we experience is a result of our thoughts that are self-generated, subjective, and will naturally change.
As soon as our thinking changes so does our experience. I can be in a low mood and caught up in negative thoughts about how much I have to do, and how there is not enough time to do it. I can whip myself up into a frenzy and feel overwhelmed and disheartened. At other times, I may have even more to do and less time, but I will feel peaceful and confident that it will all work out. My experience in each situation is determined by my thoughts, not by what is going on outside of me. Our experience is always created by our thoughts. Our consciousness brings our thoughts to life, and we experience what we perceive physiologically through our emotions. Emotions are thoughts brought to life.
If we try to change our thinking when we are in a low mood state, we give the low mood thinking more energy by giving it weight. Then it only appears more real. An alternative is to recognize that all of our moods are normal. A low mood is a transitory experience in which the quality of our thinking temporarily changes for the worse. When we are in a low mood, we see through a lens of negative thoughts and the world looks darker and less appealing. Our friends, and especially our partners, can seem more annoying. We may perceive their flaws and weaknesses more clearly as well as our own. The flaws can feel permanent and intolerable. When we are in a low mood, our tendency is to worry about all of the negative thoughts we have, and to try to figure out how to fix all the problems circulating in our mind. We try to feel better by changing our circumstances or changing our thinking.
The irony of this is that there is nothing to fix. There isn’t anything wrong. Our moods are a temporary, natural state that will pass. The innate intelligence of our mind, body system is to move in the direction of the highest level of well being available to us. This is true for the physical body as well as our thoughts and feelings. When we see this, and remember this, it is easier for us to stabilize.
Understanding where our feelings come from helps us to relax so our natural intelligence can do its work. When we recognize we are in a low mood, we can take into account that our thinking is temporarily distorted. We then know it is not going to be helpful to try to figure things out because we can’t see clearly. Trying to solve problems when we are in a low mood is like trying to clean the house with a blindfold on. You could try, but the results aren’t going to be that good, and you could do a lot of damage in the process. Low moods are always temporary. They will pass. Even though a low mood is not our natural state, it will not harm us. It is a temporary cloud of negative thinking that will dissipate. The only harm comes when we choose to act on our low mood thinking as if it were real. And if the mood persists, the only thing that holds it in place is us believing our distorted thinking to be true, and fueling it by focusing on it.
When I know I am in a low mood, and remember I cannot trust my thinking, the best thing I can do is to not take my thinking seriously. Just like when someone is telling me a story full of hyperbole. I may listen. I may even find it entertaining, but I take it all with a grain of salt. While not taking my thinking seriously, I get on with my life and do the things I feel capable of doing.
The last thing any of us need is more work to do. Take trying to manage your mood off your plate. Know that it is normal and human to experience mood fluctuation. Know that you do not need to improve yourself in anyway. The innate intelligence inside of you is designed to naturally support you with moving to greater levels of wellbeing when you relax and allow it to unfold. Trust that process and allow yourself to be with whatever your experience is in the moment knowing it is temporary.
We are designed to have fresh, new, beautiful thoughts that light us up. Trying to capture the feeling of a good mood, or hold on to it, only gets in the way of the natural functioning of our innate intelligence. It ignores that fundamentally we are not our moods. We are not the content of our thinking. We are the energy behind it all. We are the consciousness that animates us no matter what our mood is, what our thoughts tell us, or how we feel. We are the essence of love — the formless energy behind life.
Unlike what self-help and psychology teach, there is no technique needed to deal with negative thoughts. We are designed so our thoughts will naturally settle and we will experience the peace of our true nature as a result. We don’t need a technique to manage our moods just like we don’t need a technique to make our hearts beat.