When you’re in a high mood, the world seems to be a better place in general. Even though you may get a tear in your sleeve, spill your coffee, or have to deal with a noisy neighbor, when you’re happy these minor daily problems don’t really bother you. Conversely, when you’re feeling dejected or disappointed after some type of loss or breakup, each of life’s minor annoyances only adds to your pain. You find it difficult to look beyond what’s right in front of you and may even find yourself staring at the computer screen, watching the blinking cursor. New research is beginning to show how happiness isn’t just an emotional experience, but an emotion that can shape the way you perceive the world.
Your mood can impact your relationship
Your mood can also impact your relationship because it can augment or warp your good feelings towards your partner. When you’re in a high mood you tend to feel happier. Thus, your feelings toward your partner tend to be more positive. Any differences feel manageable, insignificant, or irrelevant. When in a low mood, however, these same differences can seem insurmountable, painful, and even deal breakers.
When your partner is in a low mood, you might think you have to understand why and fix it! In reality all you need to do is offer support when he or she is feeling low. This is largely because moods are constantly swinging back and forth as on a continuum. Moods are dynamic. They can change quickly, or slowly over time. That’s how moods work.
Your mood impacts your thoughts and feelings
When we’re in a low mood we tend to have negative, pessimistic, and even fearful thoughts that can lower our self-confidence and increase feelings of inadequacy. Conversely, when we are in a high mood we tend to have positive, confident, and even joyful thoughts. Low mood feelings can range from dread to relief. I.e. “I’m tired and I have to fix dinner tonight,” to “Great! He has to work late so I can go home and relax.” High mood feelings can range from contentment to euphoria. I. e. “It’ll be nice to relax with my husband tonight,” to “Yay! It’s Date Night!”
With all these thoughts and feelings fluctuating with your mood, your psychological functioning can also be impacted. When in a low mood your mental activity amps up as you start to ruminate about problems and your dissatisfaction with yourself, your partner, your job, or anything that’s irritating you. Sometimes there is a heightened but distorted sense of immediacy, as if whatever is bugging you has to be taken care of right now. It can’t wait!
It’s not the mood, but how you respond to it, that determines the quality of your life!
When low, you might feel distressed and succumb to the fear that the mood is real and will last forever. When high you might spend your time worrying about when “the other shoe will drop!” Or you can choose a more enlightened response and be grateful when mood is high while attempting to be graceful when it is low!
Paying attention to your mood will help you navigate through your mood shifts. To do this, start noticing how your perspective changes with each shift in your mood. Here are some examples:
- Gloom and doom – Why is everyone always judging me?
- All is not right with the world. – There are many villains out there.
- I’m ok. Life’s okay – I feel content.
- Gratitude – People are well meaning. They are trying to do the best they can.
- Inspiration – I have more ideas than I can use.
Though none of us like being in a low mood, there are some benefits. Low moods tell us to slow down so we can be more reflective and recover our bearings. They teach us humility because they help us realize that we don’t know as much as we thought we did. Then, when the low mood ends, we realize how we’ve blown our thoughts and fears way out of proportion. It helps us maintain a better perspective for when we suffer another low mood.
When in a low mood – chill out!
When you notice you are in a low mood, acknowledge it. Then chill out! Your mood colors your perception of reality and can make things go south quickly. If you feel grumpy and irritable, try to keep to yourself until your mood shifts, for it will shift. During a low mood don’t become involved in any deep discussions, make any criticisms or judgments, or attempt to make any big decisions, especially with your partner. A low mood will contaminate your thinking and will increase your chances in getting into unproductive and damaging arguments.
How can you tell when you’re in a low mood?
Pay attention to how you’re feeling and to the quality of your thoughts. When you have painful feelings and your thoughts are full of shame, guilt, regrets, insecurities, and negativity, then you can be certain that you are in a low mood. Your thinking is contaminated. When you have feelings of well-being and your thoughts are confident and positive, then you’re in a high mood and your thinking is more trustworthy.
What if my partner is in a low mood?
When your partner is in a low mood, don’t criticize or judge them! Or try to fix them! Just let them work through their mood on their own. It will eventually shift. Don’t take what they say or do too personally as their perception is temporarily warped by their mood.
If they are verbally abusive or disrespectful, wait until their mood has shifted to address it. Before doing so refer to my blog on Compassionate Communication for directions on how to communicate your feelings and needs in a compassionate way. Resist temptation to fight with your partner during a low mood, or to resign yourself to being treated poorly.
Remember, moods can shift from moment to moment. Be patient and considerate, allow your partner to take care of themselves, stay focused on taking care of yourself, and allow the low mood to shift of its own accord. This will help you maintain a healthier relationship.
If you are having challenges in your relationship and would like some guidance on how to be a healthier partner with better communication skills, then contact Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!