Can you write when you’re suddenly in a bad mood? While I can force myself to get a few words on the page, it’s way harder than it needs to be and I know I’ll have to rewrite everything. It’s tempting to quit and go to bed and eat cookies for the rest of the day.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that I’m the one responsible for all my emotions, good, bad, and indifferent. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know this and would rather blame you, someone else, or something else. But a truth is I can change whatever emotions I’m feeling right now into some other emotion if I’m willing.
In other words, it is possible to change your bad mode into if not a good mood, to something more up tone that will let you not only write but get on with the rest of your life in a positive way.
That includes moving from happy to sad as well as the other way around. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
Emotions are often a habit
How I feel is often habit. That is, I’m likely to have a certain reaction to almost any event that causes me to feel anger, boredom, love, joy, etc. For example, I’ve deliberately formed the habit of smiling at babies and letting that lighten whatever mood I’m experiencing. But many of my feelings are the result of unconscious habits.
I almost always, for instance, resent on being placed on hold with music. I mitigate this some by asking them to mute the music if they can; I still move into resentment if they can’t. Guess who that hurts? It’s certainly not the customer service rep, unless I end up yelling, or the people who decided music played over bad speakers is a good thing. Yep, it’s me. And if I don’t want to blow the next hour or longer, it’s up to me to change my bad mood.
When I’m honest I find my bad moods are mostly habit.
There’s a huge difference between reaction and response
Some years ago I began to notice the difference between when I react and when I respond. My definition of react is to behave quickly in a certain, often, negative way – mostly unconsciously. Contrast that with a measured, mostly conscious reply, which is how I see response.
Yes, I can form the habit of a positive response, as I have with smiling at babies. More often it’s a matter of staying aware of my emotions and making a choice. I can choose to be in a good mood or bad mood just by being aware of what’s I’m experiencing.
Awareness, willingness and practice are the keys
I got started being able to take responsibility for my good and bad moves when I learned the acronym, HALT. Often used in 12 Step groups, it stand for “Don’t get to Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.” It’s amazing how often my negative emotions are the result of any or all of those. Note, all but anger are easily fixed. I can eat, I can call a friend, I can rest. Those three go a long way toward reducing my anger – usually.
When it comes to anger what really works for me is to practice noticing the feeling of anger arising in my body. For me it’s in my throat and chest. I’m forming the habit of noticing and immediately taking a long, deep breath. That pause let’s me choose how I want to respond. It could include yell, which is rarely productive. I find expressing my displeasure calmly often produces wanted changes. All sorts of things become possible. This approach is working for me. It might work for you or you might have to find your own response.
If you’re willing, you can become aware of your emotions and practice changing them at will. It not only will make writing easier when you get stirred up, it’s likely to make you like yourself and your world a bit more.
Write well and often,