Your mood is your choice – choose wisely.

Elaine is a Counselling Psychologist with 20 years experience.

image showing how thoughts affect your mood

No-one can put you in a bad mood.  Only you can do that.

  • The rain puts me in a bad mood for the rest of my day
  • He made me angry
  • You ruined my life
  • It’s my parent’s fault

You can choose to think like that if it works for you, but you have no control over how you feel.  Or, and stay with me, this will help,

You can step up and take responsibility for how you feel – it is your choice

Now I am not saying that you are to blame for how you feel or for whatever has happened in your life – quite the contrary.  I am offering you the choice to look at things differently and choose how you feel.

You may not be responsible for the things that have happened in your life – but you are responsible for how you feel right now.  Don’t get angry or upset, or if you do, that is a knee jerk reaction.  If you would like to control that, then read on.

The weather cannot make you feel bad.  Other people cannot make you feel bad.  How you interpret what other people do, how much you think about it can affect how you feel.

The following video is one that I made to explain CBT ( you can read more about the model here) but shows how your thoughts can affect your mood.

Video shows how your thoughts affect your mood

Let’s say you met me last week and we had an argument, maybe I was rude to you.  If you spent all week thinking about me, wondering why I was rude, getting angry at me, and were replaying this in your head right now – then it is the thoughts that are making you angry now, not me.  I made you upset last week when I was rude.  What you are feeling now is what you are doing to yourself.

Usually when I start to say this to people, they often say

“yes, but if you were not rude in the first place, I would not be angry with you right now.”

True.  But we cannot control other people.  Sometimes (rightly or wrongly), people are rude.  If we accept that (as opposed to getting into the fairness of it), you can start working with how you react to it.

Why not get into the fairness of it?

Having a discussion in your head about who is right and who is wrong will not help.  All it does is keep the situation and the feelings alive in your mind.  If you want, you can spend another week thinking about how it is not fair.  That will probably mean another week when your mood is affected by it – or, to be more precise, by me being rude to you.

Keeping it alive like this is just the same as carrying me around with you, being rude, over and over again.

If you can accept “hey, she was rude” and let it go, your mood will thank you for it.

Your mood is a choice.

Accepting I was rude, and leaving it like that, means that you feel hurt or upset at the time, and then you can move on.  I appreciate this is not easy, but think of it as a skill that you are acquiring.  Every time something that upsets you comes into your mind (that is not happening right now), think to yourself, “that is just a thought”, and go back to whatever it is that you are doing.

That means that I do not have the power to make and to keep you angry.  You leave it in the past and choose not to give it (or me) any more playtime in your head.

This is a critical point.  Often when we are upset, going over it again in our heads, what has happened is not really all that important in the grand scale of things.  If I really was rude to you last week or a motorist you did not know was angry at you while sitting in traffic, ask yourself this.  Do these people really deserve the amount of time I am devoting to them in my head?  The answer will surely be no.  You have better things to do with your time.

The weather destroys my day – Really?

If you think this is nonsense, try substituting the word “weather” for work, your partner, your situation, the economy or whatever can upset you.

If you get caught out in the rain and get wet, you will not stay wet for the rest of your life.  Let it go and get on with your day.

Suppose your partner did something that upset you.  How many other things have they done that was nice? Did they set out to intentionally upset you?  Probably not.  Let it go.

The economy.  The economy can play havoc with your finances.  Many people have been seriously affected, and I shall not make light of that.  It is a difficult situation to be in.  Try to limit the amount of time this gets in your head.  Acceptance is the key to many things.

At the moment, the state of the economy is outside most peoples control.  If you can accept that, then try to only allow this air time in your head when you are actively problem-solving.  You may well be experiencing serious financial difficulties.  If this is the case, it is good not to avoid what is happening but to actively solve what you can do to help the situation, such as talking with banks.  When not actively problem-solving, let it go.

If you are worried about what the future may bring, remind yourself of the steps you have already taken and then let the thought go.

Most of the thoughts you have will be habitual.  That is, ones that you did not necessarily choose to start thinking about; you find that they are there in your head.

Let them go.

How you feel, your own mood, is within your control.  It is an active choice.

You are one thought away from a good mood.