Do you get in a mood and have a hard time getting out? Do your moods seem to descend on you for no particular reason? Do your family, coworkers or friends consider you unpredictable? Do you find yourself often brooding for extended periods of time?
Moods can obscure our experience for hours, days, weeks, or even longer. Left unattended, they shape our personalities and determine the quality of our lives. We think that we have no control over our moods but the truth is quite the contrary. We create them with our thoughts and so we can create a different mood or dissolve the one we are in if we but chose to do so.
You get in a mood when you have an emotional reaction to a specific event and don’t process your sadness, anger, or fear physically and constructively. Here’s an example. A client, Sam, considered himself moody and agreed that it would take over for days at a time. When he came into my office yesterday, he said he currently felt alienated from his wife, keeping her at a distance.
Here are five steps to getting the upper hand over any mood
1. Trace back in time to identify when the mood began by looking at various past time frames and determining if you were feeling it then. No matter its magnitude or duration, something upsetting happened that triggered your feeling. It could have been as simple as an edgy interaction, an intense argument, or change of plans disappointment. Pinpoint the event by asking yourself, “When did I start feeling like this?” or, “When was the last time I remember feeling okay?”
Sam asked himself, “How was I feeling three weeks ago when my friends visited from out of town? How about last weekend at the wedding? How about Friday evening?” As he checked in about how he felt at various points in time, a light bulb went off in his head. Sam realized his mood started Sunday evening after his wife made a snide comment about how he never did anything around the house. At the time he didn’t say anything, but pulled away emotionally and started feeling distant. Voila. That was the culprit.
2. When you identified exactly when your mood started, process the event emotionally. That means, cry if you feel sad and hurt; move your anger out of your body if you’re miffed about her misperception; and shiver if you feel scared, anxious, or afraid. When Sam acknowledged how much it hurt to be judged so harshly, he knew he was on the right track.
3. Restore your perspective. When you’re in the thick of things, your thinking can become skewed. Ask yourself, “What’s the larger, objective reality?” Look for a broader view to get out of a myopic state. What would a neutral third party say about this situation?Sam told himself the following: “I love my wife. That’s how she talks when she’s angry and not speaking up about something. I need to not take this personally. Just don’t respond to her ‘yous’ and you don’ts. Be the matador and let them go flying by.”
4. Consult your intuition on whether you need to say or do something to resolve the event. Determine what it is, that is, ask yourself questions such as “What’s the high road?” “What will get us feeling connected again?” Get specific. What specifically do you need to communicate? To whom? What points need to be covered and what request for a change do you need to make so that the future will hold more joy, love, and peace?
Sam realized that it was not too late to initiate a conversation about his wife’s comment if he just stuck with how hurt he felt, because he had made an effort to really help out around the house for most of the day. Because he wanted to feel more loving towards her, he realized that he needed to speak to her about what happened, being sure to restrict their conversation about just the hurtful comment and not as a time to revisit past grievances.
5. Follow through and you will find that your mood will lift and you’ll feel more joy, love, and peace. That means get clear about what your best guess is about what you need to do. When Sam talked to his wife after dinner that night, much to his surprise she told him how bothered she had been by what she had said, but decided to pretend she didn’t say it rather than apologize. They agreed that in the future they would talk about little upsets without delay.
It’s easy to fall under the spell of a negative mood but equally easy to change it, if you trace back to find the specific event that triggered it, and deal with just that specific event. It’s almost like magic, but better.
I wish everyone a most uplifting and fulfilling coming year. For me and Attitude Reconstruction there are some shifts in the air. For one, I have decided to stop blogging twice a week at this point. (I’ll disclose others shifts as the year goes on as I think of them.) I will continue to share on a semi regular basis interesting things as the spirit moves me. Here are three articles I found quite relevant recently.
1. Here is an uplifting story of a math teacher’s other side.
2. The following study correlates frequency of cell phone use with reduced happiness, poorer grades, and more anxiety with college students. Yikes. What’s happening to us!
On surveying more than 500 university students, Kent State University researchers found that students, who used cell phones frequently performed poorer in academics, were less happy and experienced a lot of anxiety compared to their peers, according to a press release. Owing to the growing use of mobile phones by teens, researchers conducted this study to see whether the usage had any impact on the students’ general academic performance and physiological state of mind. (read more)
Researchers recorded information regarding daily cell phone usage among these college students and compared the data to that of self-reported anxiety, life satisfactions and level of happiness. The authors of the study even got permission to access the participants’ academic records to retrieve their actual, cumulative college grade point average (GPA). All participants were undergraduates ranging from freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Results of the study showed that frequent usage of cell phones had a negative impact on the student’s GPA, leading to anxiety and a reduction in happiness levels.
An earlier study conducted in July this year found a link between extensive cell phone usage and poor fitness. While the device facilitated “on the go” communication, it also led to more sedentary lives, according to a NY Daily News report.
“The possibility that cell phone use may encourage physical activity among some low-frequency users while disrupting physical activity and encouraging sedentary activity among high-frequency users helps explain the significant negative relationship between cell phone use and cardiorespiratory fitness identified in this study,” the report quoted the authors as saying.
These days it’s impossible to get teens off their phones. They use it to text, send pictures, chat and browse the Internet. The launch of new instant chat messaging services has made this craze of cell phones even bigger. According to statistics, 90 percent of Whatsapp users check their messenger every 10 to 15 minutes. In fact, the usage is so high that a study conducted on the same reported that it can actually destroy relationships. Copyright @ Headlines & Global News.
3. Research shows you’ll do better work if you take more down time.
Why Taking Time Off Is Good for Your Brain Minda Zetlin 12/4/13
“It’s Sunday evening but instead of relaxing with your family, you’re sitting in front of your home computer. There are just a few emails you have to send out before the week starts, a couple of projects you want to complete in the quiet before the phone calls and urgent emails begin arriving the next morning. You’re tired, and vaguely cranky to find yourself working on what’s supposed to be a day of rest. But it needs to get done, so you push through.” (read more)
Friends! The news is clear. Take it easy, be quieter (talk on cell or text less), and you’ll feel happier. Take little steps in the desired direction.
Again, may your coming year be grand.
Nancy came into her session on overload. She was really freaked out. Outwardly she was performing her job and going through the motions in her personal life, but inwardly she was close to the edge. Those darn things shouldn’t be happening; she shouldn’t feel so many emotions, the pain, the loss of control. They were so strong, so intense that she had started to eat like crazy, something she hadn’t done in months and months. The pile of pizza boxes was an indisputable sign that things had started getting out of control and Nancy was wise enough to send me a SOS.
Nancy had finally given notice at her stressful accounting job. She was excited to travel the Caribbean with her boyfriend for the winter. But now things were developing, and she wasn’t so sure she wanted to be so isolated and on a boat far away with her rollercoaster guy. And the boss (who hadn’t found a replacement half as competent as she was) now was asking her to reconsider, having finally made some of the changes she’d been suggesting for so long.
Nancy needed to honor her emotions before she could think clearly and decide what she wanted to do. She was feeling anger because things had finally been settled and had felt so right. But Nancy was also feeling fear. She was afraid she would make the wrong decision. Afraid she couldn’t decide.
After describing her dilemma, Nancy stood up and shivered for a good minute, all throughout her body, like a dog at the vet’s office. Then she pounded on a pile of old telephone books with a flexible plastic hose with abandon. When she was exhausted, Nancy sat back down on the couch and talked for a couple of minutes. Then she got up and shivered again, followed by more pounding, using both arms and few words. Nancy repeated this routine two more times, and then ended her emoting phase with a last dose of shivering.
As her body was recuperating from all the energy she had expended, Nancy spontaneously said the following, which I wrote down: I’ll figure this out in its time. It will all be okay. It’s not the end of the world.
Pretty cool shift.
She was smiling and calm. Nancy was then able to think more clearly about what to do and make an action plan. Her plan was to put the decision temporarily on the shelf and enjoy the weekend. She was confident that she could and would make the right choice if she continued to talk with her boss, her boyfriend, and her heart until she indisputably knew what she truly wanted to do.
Session was over!
Last month the LA Times released some of the latest findings about happiness. According to the 2013 World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, around the world, we were .5% happier from 2010-2012 than from 2005-2007.
Researchers asked approximately 3,000 people in each of 150 countries to rank their over-all sense of life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. They found six main dimensions to happiness: 1) income, 2) mental and physical health, 3) social support, 4) freedom to make choices, 5) being inclined to help others, and 6) living in a country that doesn’t seem corrupt.
The author of the report, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, says “There is no one key to a society’s well-being, but if you take these five variables, they explain about three-quarters of the observed variation across countries.”
An astute commenter on the LA Times article pointed out, each of the five countries that were the most happy had more than 96% of the population being of one race and having one dominant religion. That was striking and made an incredible amount of sense to me.
Taking all this happiness business one step further, Attitude Reconstruction contends that anyone, regardless of their country, religion, age, and economic condition can increase their own level of happiness by using the five tools they were born with. Regardless of circumstances, if we 1) handle our sadness, anger, and fear physically, naturally, and constructively; 2) replace our repetitive destructive thinking with what is true; 3) consult and listen to our intuition for guidance; 4) communicate by following the four simple rules, and 5) take action aligned with what we know within, we can’t help but feel more of the emotions of joy, love, and peace (aka happiness).
Try doing the opposite of what you usually do that doesn’t work very well, and see how you feel.
Bill Dwyre, a sports columnist for the LA Times, wrote a wonderful article about Tiger Woods and Nelson Mandela on December 7, 2013. When Tiger was asked about a meeting they had in 1998 after he won his first major golf tournament at the age of 22, according to Dwyre, “Usually Tiger would say something like:
• ‘He is such an intelligent man and so well balanced and so articulate that he was a pleasure to be around.’
• ‘I’ve read a lot of books over the years, and certainly understand what he went through, and what he had to deal with, and to be able to meet a human being as gracious and humble as that, it was quite an honor, especially at his home.’
But, according to Dwyre, Tiger was asked once again when news of Mandela’s death spread.
“Woods delivered a gem, an insightful and revealing observation about the man about whom so many, in his passing, thirst for every detail.”
He described he and his father, Earl, being ushered into a room in Mandela’s home and told that the president would be with them shortly. He said he stood with his father for awhile, felt a presence in the room that he couldn’t identify and finally heard the rustling of paper off to the side in the room. It was Mandela, who had been there all along.
Well, I think that probably one of the most interesting things is I asked him — he was over there in the corner and was folding up his newspaper and he was taking so long to fold up his newspaper, and he was meticulous about it. I asked him why did he pay so much detail to folding up a newspaper.
‘He said, ‘When you are incarcerated for 27 years, you have to slow down time.’
There it was, a life lesson at a golf tournament, a worldly observation from the heart and soul of an international icon. It was one, perhaps, that the hurry-up world badly needs.
For this, we thank the delivery man, one Tiger Woods…”
A recent article by ABC News got me thinking about why getting the planet, and all the countries that comprise it, back on task is going to be a massive job. The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 surveyed 114,000 people in 107 countries. It found that 50% of people believe corruption was worse in recent years and 27% copped to paying bribes so they could get access to public services and institutions. (I would really suggest you take a look at the above report. It’s full of interesting statistics and conclusions.)
88% of respondents think their government’s leaders are doing a poor job at fighting corruption. According to 114,000 people the five most corrupt institutions are:
1. POLICE. This is a world-wide problem, with police getting a 3.7 (on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 means extremely corrupt and 1 means not at all corrupt.) Corruption is especially high in rural areas of countries such as Mexico and Venezuela. In Mexico 93% of drivers think traffic policemen are corrupt and it’s estimated that cartels pay police $100 million every month.
2. JUDGES. If you don’t think judges are trustworthy, it is more likely you’ll take justice in your own hands or allow offenders to escape. Of the 20 countries where respondents think judges are the most corrupt institution, 30% said they had paid a bribe to help their case. Like with the police and public officials, most of these countries were in South America, Eastern Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.
3. PUBLIC OFFICIALS and CIVIL SERVANTS. Government workers who are in charge of land, registry, health, and education are most able to extract brides. This happens most in countries where rural and civil conflicts occur and the governments are centralized with large bureaucracies, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia.
4. POLITICAL PARTIES. People who live in Argentina, Greece, Colombia, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Israel, Uruguay, and Jamaica believe that political parties are the most corrupt. In the USA 76% said that political parties were affected by corruption. 90% of Greek citizens believe the same. This is where people in the USA felt there was the most corruption.
5. PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME. 27% of the people surveyed said they had paid a bribe in the last twelve months. 21% said they were not willing to report incidents of corruption. In 16 countries over 50% said they would remain silent for fear of reprisal or because they didn’t have faith in their governments.
What does all this mean for me? Reading this makes me feel quite helpless because corruption is such an insidious problem.
Corruption has been around since time began so we’re not going to stop it completely. The road to balance and honesty is long but we each need to figure out how we can do our parts to restore the old fashion values of freedom and democracy we were taught in school.
But because I don’t live in a large city in the United States, where there is more likelihood of police and maybe judicial corruption, I think the place where I can contribute the most, is helping out political parties. That means both supporting the issues and politicians that I feel are important, both monetarily and verbally speaking out when it becomes clear that shady deals are going on. On the level of action, that means volunteering to support legislation and causes I believe in rather than turning a blind-eye and grumbling.
There are other things that can be done. Start a viral video campaigning highlighting when injustices occur. Create a petition, post it on Facebook and collect signatures to ignite change in your community or your world. We’re not altogether helpless, especially when it comes to supporting one another. Every small kind action you take towards others, and also towards yourself, helps improve the overall trust and feel good energy on the planet. Who knows? Maybe all those little actions will add up someday and create a domino effect, making a dent even in the rungs of our global police force, our political leaders and our officials in public services.
You might think it’s possible to die of a broken heart. Especially if you’re in the middle of the agony right now, wondering how the world can go on. Ending a relationship can be crushing. It touches upon our deepest wounds and biggest dreams; our scariest insecurities and our happiest moments.
It may have only taken a second to fall in love, but to reclaim equilibrium takes time. Injuries have to heal whether physical or emotional. So before jumping back into action, give yourself time to heal and room to feel your pain. According to Attitude Reconstruction, here are six things to do to ensure a speedy recovery:
1. Maintain your regular healthy routine. That means don’t give up exercising, don’t stop eating regularly, don’t start drinking (or indulge in your favorite addiction), and don’t stop sleeping.
2. Deal with your emotions. Start with whatever emotion is in the foreground. Pound if you can’t believe what he said or did. Cry buckets because it’s a loss, but don’t indulge in blaming him, freaking out about the future, or feeling sorry for yourself. Just mourn and say good-bye. Shiver and shake if you feel scared and in survival mode. These strong emotions will not last forever. If you acknowledge and express them constructively, you’ll move through the pain much quicker.
3. Interrupt your destructive thoughts, particularly worries about an imagined future, even if they come up a hundred times a day. Shiver instead and remind yourself, “These feelings will pass. This situation is temporary.” Instead of trashing him or her, remember the good, and then refocus on what you need to do to honor yourself. Remind yourself of your worthiness and lovability. “This says nothing about me. I am lovable. I am fine.”
4. Get clear on what you know is best. If you’ve had somewhat of a ritual of fighting and breaking up, only to get back together, get clear about what you know when emotions aren’t flying around and hold fast to that. Rather than being rash and doing something impulsive like splitting up during a fight, get yourself back to a loving place first. Do this by addressing and resolving the specific topic that started the fight. Then, when you feel centered again, look within and ask what’s true for you about the relationship. If it is true that one or the other of you is no longer willing to be in a partnership, hold tight to what you know at those times of clarity, and remind yourself self of it often. As well, align your behavior with what you know deep down is true.
5. Keep addressing your emotions physically and constructively. This point can’t be stressed enough. If the reality is that it’s truly over, then it’s time to deal with the inevitable sadness, anger and fear. If your emotions are intense, be extra mindful to eat, sleep, and exercise regularly, because throwing off your physiology hinders the healing process and your quality of life.
I promise it won’t take as long as you imagine to heal and move on, if you deal with your emotions constructively and don’t indulge in trash thinking or talking. Soon you’ll be able to make a plan to restore your self-esteem, reflect on what you’ve learned, and engage in any necessary communications. It takes time to work through such an intense event but on the other side of pain, there is life and happiness awaiting your arrival.
“Not enough” comes in all shapes and sizes. We can feel like we aren’t enough, how we look, how smart we are, or how talented we are isn’t enough, what we have or do isn’t enough, what is happening currently isn’t enough, or other people aren’t enough. Stop comparing and bringing yourself down! In all cases, you need to reverse the focus from what you or others do or don’t have to focus on enjoying, appreciating, and being grateful for who you are and what is. This simple shift requires moving from “out there” back to yourself.
You can free yourself from the dissatisfaction and the fear of never “enough” and rest in enjoying the reality by doggedly and consistently replacing your old thinking. In terms of how to do this, I’m going to use as an example “not feeling good enough.” Instead of perpetually trying to measure up against an invisible standard, give it a rest. Give up believing if you had or did something else — got married, earned more money, looked more beautiful, had more time, were smarter — you’d finally be happy and feel worthy.
As you already know, that doesn’t work. In terms of who we are, what we have, or what we do, our mind will always find some thing else that feels lacking. The mistake is that we are identified with our actions, appearance, or possessions, rather than our unchanging essence.
To get to the root of not feeling good enough, figure out and write down exactly what you tell yourself when you are into “not enough” thinking. Then get ready to wage a war with your mind. You have several powerful choices for weapons. Here are some options so you can win your battle and little by little slay your downer thinking and replace it with something that increases the amount of joy, love, and peace you feel. Repeat your selected strategy with the conviction of knowing that it is true until you smile.
1. Appreciate what you do have. Focus on qualities and characteristics.
2. Be grateful for what is presented or what you do have.
3. Look for the positive in the situation. There is always a sunny side to the bleakest of moments.
4. Find a contradiction to your old thinking (see below for a few suggestions) and repeat it over and over, ignoring all the discounting thoughts that arise.
My presence is enough.
I am good enough.
I’ve done enough.
I’m pretty enough.
I am fully satisfied with myself.
I am enough.
About other people, things, and situations
This is enough.
I have enough.
My friends are enough.
What’s happening right now is perfect.
I have enough time.
There is enough time.
Regardless of the option you choose, interrupt negative mind noise and replace it with your chosen constructive alternative. As you do, you will accept yourself ‘as is,’ and jolt yourself into loving yourself regardless of how the world turns. Your attention shifts to what is already here and who you already are. You become more accepting of yourself, others, and time just the way they are right now, and enjoy the present moment, your life, and all that you have.
Are you considering buying pajama jeans because your womanly curves yell at you in the mirror? Do you park your Camry a block away because all the other housewives drive Escalades? Got a barrage of brutal self-talk to ready-aim-fire every time you interview for a new job or go on yet another date?
Being too self-critical is epidemic in our society. It’s almost a national pastime to beat ourselves up over real and imagined imperfections. We became unwitting devotees watching our parents and teachers direct their anger towards us with negative judgments and demeaning labels instead of channeling emotions in appropriate ways. Being receptive little students, we pledged allegiance to those unkind messages and internalized commitments to keep them alive. Today we know the words by heart and speak them inside without even thinking.
Whenever we criticize ourselves, we compound the issue. We turn one problem into two — there’s the social blunder, a poor financial decision or disapproving glance in the mirror — and the demeaning self-loathing that follows.
Are you more than ready to silence the tyrant? Then try these five effective strategies to stop being self-critical and show yourself more love:
1. List the most common expressions you tell yourself, such as “I’m so stupid.” “I blew it again.” “ I’m such a bad person.”
2. Correct the sentiment to something more positive, such as “I’m doing the best I can. / I did the best I could.” Or “Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.” Or “If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” Determine what contradicts your old messages and write them down on a card or paper. Carry them on a 3×5 card in your pocket or post them on the dashboard of your car. It helps.
3. Relentlessly repeat your new thoughts, especially when you’re judging yourself poorly or when you’re crying and feeling down. Repeat them ten, twenty, thirty times! It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. Just repeat them. Interrupt all the “yes, buts” and other discounting thoughts that surface.
4. Shower yourself with kindness in the form of self-appreciations. Compliment your own abilities, characteristics, qualities, and efforts. It’s not boasting or bragging. It’s looking on the bright side. Ignore the self-criticism and be grateful for the magnificent human you are.
If this feels totally weird and you can’t come up with a single self-appreciation, start with something small. Name a specific positive trait, talent, or quality and look at yourself from this new perspective. Try something like:
· I have a good sense of humor and can be funny.
· I’m a dependable friend.
· I take good care of my cat.
· I like to do nice things for others.
5. Try writing two self-appreciations each day. At the end of each week read your list out loud with conviction and enthusiasm. Adding a smile, or even half a smile while repeating your list, will give it a boost.
Beating yourself up for not living up to impossible standards is a dead-end road that leads to Point Misery. See how wonderful you feel when you relentlessly focus on the good. Emphasizing your positive qualities and contradicting that internal critic will definitely improve your attitude about yourself. Starting today, turn your self-criticism into self- appreciation. You’ll feel the difference immediately and hear a new pledge of allegiance to the united states of Joy, Love, and Peace!