Mood Swings - How To Handle Your Emotions
One of the great obstacles to self development is the very trivial and constant mood swings that we experience in our everyday lives. It’s this ever present changeableness in ourselves in the form of feelings that just come and go. They alter our whole attitude towards things and to be honest, they wield an enormous power over us. You might wonder, why are moods such an obstacle in our lives and what are they in the first place? Let me explain.
Moods are chiefly emotional temperaments. They can be intellectual too, e.g. when we get lazy and our mind feels dim, but moods are almost entirely an emotional phenomenon. Everyone knows that. You wake up, feel energised and motivated, and in the next moment something at work happens and now you’re stressed or angered. Or maybe you relax and zone out while a vague feeling of anxiety overcomes you and stays with you for quite a while.
Moods are based on emotions. That’s why they come in pairs of opposites. Sadness / happiness, depression / elation - the moods swing in two directions like a pendulum. The more you swing in one direction, the more you’ll swing back in the other direction as well. After a moment of deep anxiety or anger there comes a moment of deep relief, of exaggerated cheerfulness. It’s like sunshine and cloudy formation alternating in this eternal play of opposite states. One comes after the other.
This is the nature of emotionality. Emotionality is a blind impulse that swings between repulsion and attraction, between biologically pleasing and displeasing states or poles. Elation leads to sadness leads to elation leads to sadness etc. You can never be entirely free if you identify with your moods. The ideal is to reach the emotional equilibrium, a balance between the different states. The emotional equilibrium prevents you from being shaken by moods and the goal is to grow beyond being affected by them.
So how can you do that? How can you become independent of the eternal mood swings? First, it needs to be said that you cannot be free from experiencing moods. They are part of reality, so you will always have your good and bad days, in the same way as day and night come and go, the seasons of the year come and go. The change will come, I guarantee you that. However, you can decide how you want to react in response to your moods and emotions. And there’s definitely a few things you can do.
First, your general attitude can help. See it this way: depending on your personal worldview either everything happens for no reason and nothing matters, in this way your moods also don’t matter at all. Or - everything happens for a reason, and in this way nothing can happen to you that is not deserved or not in your best interest. Think about it.
Secondly, if you experience some kind of physical tension, e.g. extra fatigue or little sleep, that will definitely have an impact on your nerves, your nervous condition and in this way influence your mood. You can easily control these physically induced moods by just giving your body the rest it needs and by keeping it healthy and nourished to prevent the undesired nervous reactions. It is not your task to strain yourself and do more than you are able to do. That is just a waste of time and energy that doesn’t make you effective. Your duty is to do only as much as you can bear without overstraining yourself. The overstrained nerves or burnout states are absolutely wrong and should be regarded as such. That is simply common sense.
Now, what do you do about moods which are purely emotional in their nature, moods that just come and go from within your consciousness? They seem to emerge out of nowhere and disappear as quickly. It can be anything: joy, irritation, anger, depression, bad mood, whatever. What should you do when this happens?
Well, you should not be overpowered or blinded by them, that’s for sure. The real change comes with a change of your attitude, when you embrace the right mindset. It’s the cultivation of a mind that is without fear. Face the world knowing it is full of light and darkness, be willing to pass through each in turn, refusing the bad feeling to master you, recognising it as a shadow thrown upon you randomly from the inside, but not representing the real you, and declining to allow that shadow to influence the actual, beautiful and calm you that lies deep within yourself.
Just accept what you experience in your consciousness without fear and endure it without identifying with it. Look at your most depressive moments calmly and recognise that these moods are not the real you. They are phenomena that come and go and they should not disturb your serenity.
What we feel doesn’t matter that much. It’s more important how we act under the sway of feelings and moods. The real strength comes from the ability to do what you want to do regardless of how you’re feeling about it. Did you hear it? I’m talking to you. If you decide to do something and you carry on despite your doubts, laziness or fear, that’s a sign of strength. If you do not care, but act exactly as if you care because you know it’s the right thing to do - that’s a sign of mental strength.
Be a hero of your daily life who takes control of your feelings. Don’t be the victim of this vague salad of moods and whimsies that aren’t grounded in anything, don’t represent reality, and only come and go, tinting and distorting your perception of the world.
So, how should you meet these moods, you might ask again? Another way to help you is to acknowledge the cyclic nature of all things. I guarantee you, the changes, the moods like enthusiasm and indifference, happiness and sadness, they all come and go as inevitably as night and day come and go, as the seasons of the year come and go, as good and bad weather come and go. I guarantee you they will come and go and come again. The changeability of our moods is just the cyclic nature of reality on a small scale in our personal emotional and intellectual lives.
However, the goal is not to be swayed by the various moods, but to bring the day into the night, and the night into the day, to bring about something that can be called emotional balance, a serene, calm indifference to the moods and the situations of your life. Remember the light in the darkness. But also remember the darkness in the light. That’s because you need to prevent both over-depression and over-elation. When something bad happens, you remain calm and serene. When something good happens, you remain calm and serene. Your goal is to be no longer affected or shaken by your moods. Don’t confuse them with your real self. Your moods are not you. Step outside and be above those pairs of the opposites.
The light and darkness don’t disappear from your life, but it’s you who now feels grounded and independent of the changes in your life. You have to look at your emotions as what they are and not identify with them. You need to separate yourself from them and recognize them as a lower part of your emotional experience. A helpful, psychological trick is to ask yourself: “What lesson can I learn from that changing experience to help myself and others so that it becomes a win win situation. I repeat: be the hero, not the victim! It’s a choice you make. Choose wisely.
Your real you is changeless and steady throughout your whole life, your consciousness. Anything else that is changing in you is not you. It’s just your experience. That thought itself should give you the peace of mind. Dwell on this, or meditate on this a few minutes every day to gain that grounded and steady attitude independent of your moods and those unreliable emotions that always make you doubt and fear everything.
Train your mind, your intellect to think regularly about your steady and changeless self so that you make a habit out of it, and your habitual thinking eventually becomes a part of your character. As someone wise had once noticed: as you think so you are.
I’m done for today. I hope you could learn a bit. See you in the next one.