We have all experienced the ups and downs that life delivers; the disappointments that can cause us to doubt ourselves and question those around us; the joys when we succeed at something that is important to us and the sadness when we lose someone or something we love. These are a natural part of life and to be expected.
But what if you, or someone you know is like a yoyo, swinging from one mood to another on a constant or regular basis?
“I hate my moods, they never ask permission before they change”
Sure there is sometimes a physical cause such as PMT or other hormonal changes but beyond this there are a lot of people who are simply tossed around by every little thing that happens, trapped in a cycle of reaction that makes them exhausted and exhausting to be around.
“Beware of mood swings: If you don’t like me today, come back tomorrow”
Finding healthy ways to manage the way you see the world and the emotions that are caused by the way you think, is the key to a life of balance and happiness.
Assumptions Are The Enemy Of Possibility
We each have a unique perspective based on what we have learned, what we have experienced and what has been modelled to us. If you grew up in a family where everything that happened was a ‘disaster’ or where the response to an event was to assume ‘somebody is out to get me’ then you may see life as difficult, overwhelming and think that there is always something bad around the corner.
This sets you up for a pattern of negative thinking. For example, if you have applied for a new job and the company is taking its time to get back to you, you may automatically believe that they don’t like you and that you are not going to get the job. In truth you don’t have any information to go on and therefore assuming the worst is only going to make you anxious and off balance. So instead of pinning all your hopes on this one job, or worrying that you won’t get it, keep applying for other jobs as being proactive will keep you in control of your life and therefore your emotions. You may not get the first job but you will have created other options for yourself so that a minor disappointment will not send you off the rails.
“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between” – Maya Angelou
Its important to step back from your automatic tendency to think the worst and wait until you have real and tangible information before responding. Imagine you have a Rubik Cube in your hand and you are viewing each side from every angle. Now take the thing you are concerned about and do the same. It is a possibility that the outcome you imagine may become a reality but just as likely that the best case scenario will unfold or in fact anything in between. I truly believe that having a positive mindset and hoping for the best gives you the best possible chance of a happy outcome.
Your Past Does Not Dictate Your Future Unless You Let It
Just because your have experienced a particular outcome to an event in the past, doesn’t mean that the same will happen in the future. When you create generalisations based on previous experiences, you disempower yourself to take action at another time.
You may have met somebody for a coffee hoping that you might make a new friend or have a love connection. On this occasion, you discover you have nothing in common, the person is uninterested and cuts you short leaving you sitting alone in a cafe. Just because on this occasion the outcome was uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that you should give up as at another time, and with another person, you may discover exactly what you are looking for. Remember, if you don’t take action, nothing will happen.
“All generalisations are false, including this one” – Mark Twain
There Are Many Shades Between Black And White
I know many people who live in a world of black and white. Something is either good or bad, fantastic or a disaster. The problem with this ‘polarised’ way of thinking is that there is so much information that is being missed. There are many shades of grey between black and white and the truth of any situation is almost always found in the greyness.
To manage your emotions, you must step away from the extremes and look for the subtle nuances in between. A great way to do this is to imagine a situation from the opposite view. For example, you hear from a friend that they are breaking up with their partner. They have a lot to say about the faults in the other person and take no responsibility for their own part. You know this person well and have had times where you have fallen out over small issues. If you take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of the partner, then perhaps you can see that they have probably experienced the same sorts of issues as you have.
Whilst there are two sides to every story in truth those two sides are not black or white but shades of grey depending on where you stand in the story.
“Broaden your view of the world and you will discover possibilities that were previously hidden from you” – Allanah Hunt
Lighten Up And Laugh
Most people who experience extreme mood swings feel things very deeply and are intense individuals. Learning not to take everything so seriously, to let things be what they are and allowing them to evolve, is crucial if you want to find balance in your life.
If for example, you are heading to an important meeting and a bird poops on your head; you have a choice to react with panic, anger and desperation or you can see it as a good omen as they do in Italy. In fact, this seemingly dreadful event means wealth and good luck in Italian superstition and the bigger the poop, the more good fortune you will be blessed with. Learn to laugh at yourself and situations that would have previously caused you stress and you will find that your mood is improved and you cope better with life and the people around you.
“When you lose your ability to laugh, especially at yourself, you are no longer living but dying” – Starla Asher
There Is A Time To Walk Away
If you feel yourself becoming wound up and irritable, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away and regroup. You can do this without saying anything as long as you can accept that you may never have closure or a resolution to the situation, or you can ask for a few moments to gather your thoughts. Giving yourself a break to calm your thoughts and bring your breathing back to normal before responding will allow you to engage your brain rather than your heightened emotions.
“A lot of people end up unhappy because they make permanent decisions on temporary emotions”
Develop Strategies Ahead Of Time
Write a list of things that make you feel calm and learn them as you would your times tables. Having a strategy to relax and gain perspective when you start to feel overwhelmed or upset, ensures that you don’t spiral out of control.
If you feel yourself getting wound up, take a moment to mentally look at your list. What can you do right now to help you regain your balance? Sometimes it’s as simple as taking 5 minutes to listen to a piece of music, to have a cup of tea or to take a quick walk in the fresh air. Aim to include simple things that you can instantly connect to so that you have a great range of tools at your disposal to diffuse any tension or anxiety you feel.
Count To Ten
I used to hear this when I was a kid but it took on a new meaning for me when I found my emotions out of control and I said things I later regretted. Letting whatever is in your head out through your mouth without a time delay can spell disaster for your relationships.
The next time you find yourself with words on the tip of your tongue, take a moment to count to ten before letting them spill out for all to see. Words said in anger and frustration cannot be taken back and although people may forgive you they will never forget. Everyone has a breaking point and one day you may lose someone you truly value by speaking from your emotions rather than from love.
“Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out”
Learn to manage your emotions and you will find yourself in a happier more balanced state. Not only will you feel and look better but you will be more connected with the people around you as they learn to trust you again.