Many people think that their feelings and moods are beyond their control or that situations make them feel bad. But you can change the way that you feel. If you want to feel better, you must realize that your thoughts and attitudes, not external events play a key role in creating your feelings.
To illustrate the connection between thoughts and mood, consider the different ways you could respond to a compliment. Suppose, I told you, “ I really like you, I think that you are a great person”. How might you feel? Well, some people would feel happy and others sad. Some would feel embarrassed and others would react with anger.
What accounts for the different reactions? It’s because of the different ways they think about the compliment. If you feel sad you are probably thinking, “Oh, she’s just saying that to be nice, she doesn’t really like me.” If you feel annoyed, you make be thinking, “ She’s just buttering me up, she must want something from me. She should be more honest!” If you feel good about the compliment, you probably are saying to yourself, “She likes me, that’s great.”
This is what I mean about your thoughts creating your moods. But how do you know which interpretation is correct? One thing is true, that when we have a strong emotion, like a bad mood, we have a strong propensity to tell ourselves things that are simply not true. When we are down we are usually not even aware that we are being conned by our misery and self doubt.
In therapy with my clients, one of the skills that we work on is becoming experts in identifying and modifying the distorted thoughts that lead them into negative moods. This along with other powerful tools has helped thousands of people take greater control of their emotions, careers, and relationships, and they can help you or someone you know. It’s not always easy but with persistence it can be done.