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Overcoming Bad Moods

From experience, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people who attempt to improve their states of mind is feeling motivated to use the strategies when they have already slipped into negativity. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we just cannot help but fall into a less empowering mood, and then we stop doing the things we know we should do to feel good.

For example, imagine that you spent a whole week training up a new staff or team member, only to discover that s/he quit at the end of the week. At the same time you realise that your wallet has gone missing and that the new staff member incorrectly completed the contact section of the staff contract.

Angry!

Or this: you spend three hours writing a report and your computer crashes. You reboot your computer, access the recovered file and your computer crashes again! This time you lose the lot and you have to start again.

Frustrated!

The chances are, that if something happens to you that spontaneously makes you feel negative, such as in the above examples, you would not immediately feel motivated to change your state. In fact, you WANT to stay angry, frustrated etc. You LIKE IT!

The trouble is, remaining in a negative state, perpetuates the very problem that you are feeling negative about. For example, if you feel angry because someone stole your wallet or broke your trust, staying angry for the rest of the day won't help you to earn the money back. If you feel frustrated because you lost three hours worth of work on a report, staying frustrated won't help you to rewrite it.

In order to come out of the negative state of mind, we need to associate more pain to continuing to feel negative, and pleasure to feeling happy again. We have to make a conscious decision that we want to be happy, and do something about it.

How? As soon as we recognise that we are feeling negative, we can acknowledge that the negativity has been caused by losing something we enjoyed, or gaining something we didn't want. Once we know what that 'something' is, we can combat the bad state of mind by focusing on what we need to do to fix it. We can change from an emotional state to a goal achieving state. Sometimes when we feel angry, for example, we remain in that state because we feel like it helps to get what we want.

As I explain in my new book, Fast Track Your Success and Happiness, If we focus on achieving a goal (even if it is just a little one) we are no longer focusing on ourselves and our bad moods tend to disappear on their own.

So for example, if someone steals your wallet, focussing on the goal of cancelling your credit cards will put you in a better state (and be more productive) than thinking about how angry you are with the person who did it. If you lose a document, immediately sitting back down to rewrite it will have you feeling like a champ when you finish. If you are feeling unwell, setting a small goal (that won't make you feel physically worse) will help to shift the focus away from your poor health.

If you are just feeling TOO negative to be able to concentrate on achieving a goal, go and do any activity that requires concentration. For example, if you are at home you could watch a comedy video (the moving pictures and constant audio stream uses a large portion of our attention) or if you are at work, you could find something distracting to do.

The key is, distraction and change of focus, will help to change a negative emotion even if we are not motivated to change ourselves.

(C) Copyright Petra Rankin 2005

Petra Rankin used powerful techniques to beat her own long-term depression. She is now dedicated to teaching others how to be happier and lead more successful lives. Her first book Fast Track Your Success and Happiness is due to be launched in September 2005 and is currently available for download as a free e-book instead of paying $19.95. Limited time only!

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