Listen to me

Watch me

After spending the last few weeks looking at our mood and the impact that people can have on it now it’s time to start putting this new knowledge into practice. As you develop better habits and new ways of thinking it will stop you from catching other people’s negative emotions, one of the key things is awareness. So take a bit of time and every day to think about your mood at the beginning of something and then how you felt at the ends. If you go to work in a good mood, then find yourself feeling stressed and anxious a short while after walking in the door, this is a strong sign that you’re allowing your workplace to infect you with negative emotions. Or maybe you meet with a friend or even with your partner and you find your mood dips this is another signal that your catching others emotions. Especially if you find your mood lifting when you’re away from that person. Sometimes we are in big groups of people and our phones get blasted with alerts and negative messages and we feel the sinking feeling in our stomach at the thought of reading those messages, this is another sign that you are catching these negative emotions from the group. It can be exactly the same on some of your social media feeds from people and the desire to trawl past them quickly. If you learn to look out for these clues in the various emotional environments you move in and out of during the day, you’ll be a step ahead in determining the best strategies to use to get the most out of your relationships at home, at work, and at play.

The first step is to pay closer attention to your feelings in different settings and when you’re with different individuals and groups. Identify the people or groups of people who regularly bring you down, drain you, or make you feel angry, frustrated, or stressed.  The best way to do this is to tune in to changes in your mood and use the pre and post check after things is a good way of doing this. I am not talking about occasional bad moods or bad moods brought on by unfortunate circumstances from time to time as this is life and they will always be times like this and we can be just as bad as the other people, this for all of us is normal. What I am talking about is tuning in to consistent mood change patterns the one that you feel on a regular basis, this is the key to helping you identify hot spots of contagion.

For example, if you find that you get to work in a good mood, but that mood quickly dissolves into sadness or frustration that’s a pretty good clue that someone or a group of people in your work environment may be contagious. Similarly, if you find yourself tensing up every time your mother in law visits, that again another sign. However, this awareness is only the beginning of a solution because these scenarios and many others are examples of circumstances that you can’t easily remove from your life. You have to learn how to either work around them or change them.

Here are some ways that you can limit these contagious moments, technology is amazing and this can be used very positively in our online and phone connections. We can go onto those WhatsApp groups and mute the group; this means you won’t get lots of notifications pinging these messages into your phone, but you’re not leaving the group either. When you choose you can then scroll through the barrage of messages and if you want to, you don’t even have to read them.  This can be the same on a lot of the social media things, change the notifications, mute people’s feeds, or limit what you see. This will change how you feel in an instant, you will also feel more empowered by taking this decisive action. If it is a face to face situations you can do your best to distance yourself, when possible, from those who infect you with their negativity. If you can’t completely remove yourself from the situation, make sure that you take happy breaks where you do something that makes you happy, or spend time with positive people who make you feel up instead of down.

You can take more decisive action and actually speak to the person or people who are causing you to feel down or stressed or angry. Before you do this, I would take the time to read through the blogs Mood Hoovers and Debbie Downers, there is more advice and tips you may find helpful. But also, by simply pointing out to negative people what they’re doing or how they’re making you feel can motivate them to change. Don’t blame them or have a go at them, as this can make them defensive and it often won’t end well. But you could say I am feeling your tension and stress today, and I will need to step back a bit from this as its starting to impact me too, so please don’t take this personally.

Another good way to help the situation is to infuse as many positive comments into conversations and meetings as possible. If people moan about the weather comment about a time when the weather was great or is going to be better. Starting up a positive banter with someone who is dead set on being negative can be a great step, as those people will get quickly bored of your bright mood and find someone else who is willing to let them talk about the woes. If you run a meeting and it always seems to end up as a complete moan fest, the best way to help this is to start with all the positive things first, then give them space to hear the negative and look to take action on these and then cut from these negatives about 5 or 10 minutes before the meeting ends and finishing it on a positive note. This helps by sandwiching the negatives between the two positive parts of the meeting and letting people leave on a brighter note will help everyone’s mood including yours.

Finally, remember this is all about you and make sure that you take care of yourself,  like a common cold or any other illness, if you’re tired, weak, or hungry, you’ll be even more vulnerable to catching someone’s negative emotions. Looking after yourself by eating well, exercising, and make sure you get some sunshine doing these things may also help you sleep better too. Exercise and sunshine stimulate the release of endorphins, our body’s own natural mood elevator so keep filling your own positive mood tank up will help give you some internal stores that can help to buffer you from the negatives.

At the end of the day, you can’t control how someone else feels or reacts to situations, but you have complete control over how you respond to their emotions. If this is not happening for you then now is the time to train ourselves to override the negative emotions that often follow when we interact with negative, unhappy people. Choose that happy side of life.

Thanks for dropping by Sara x

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