The 4 Basic Moods

Ah...  that troublesome word :'mood'.... What is it exactly?....

Following one of my recent postings, the lovely Jen commented that I might like to read Mood Mapping by Dr Liz Miller. I have come to appreciate the value of the spontaneous signposts other kind souls provide me with and so, never having heard of it, I decided to order the book. I am glad I did.

As an ex-professional Life Coach and Trainer of Coaches, I already knew many of the self-management techniques Dr Miller writes about in her book. I expected that. She mentions Anthony Robbins, the Guru of Personal Achievement, and you cannot become a Coach without running into Antony Robbins sooner or later...

The one thing I did not expect to find was the very thing I had been looking for, for a long time: a definition of the word 'mood'.

I have always been uncomfortable with the medical label of 'Mood Disorder' that is attached to Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD). 'Mood' fluctuation is NOT my experience of BPD and never has been. For me, referring to BPD as a mood disorder is like saying that Pompei was a town with a bit of a mud problem! The language fails to capture and communicate the magnitude and the amplitude of the ENERGY fluctuations I have experienced - and still do. Naturally, if I cannot function at all for any length of time and my body hurts all over for days on end, I do eventually feel royally fed-up and my mood is not especially buoyant - that's obvious, but my drop in mood comes as a RESULT of my prolonged drop in ENERGY: NOT the other way around.

Dr Liz Miller (who understands BPD from having lived with it herself) acknowledges that the word 'mood' is extremely difficult to define and - in fact - that it has NEVER been properly explained. She does have a go though and I like what she has come up with very much: she says that a mood is the soil in which our emotions grow, and there are four basic states or 'moods' that soil can be in:

  1. Anxiety (which for me manifests as Agitation)
  2. Depression 
  3. Calm
  4. Action

Dr Miller goes further: she separates those four moods into two fundamental components: our ENERGY level (Yay!!!!) and how we FEEL. This separation is spot on for me, which is why I am able to joke that I can now be DEPRESSED and HAPPY at the same time - or if you prefer, that I can be unable to do anything and not feel bad about it  - or, put slightly differently again, that I no longer feel bad about feeling bad.

This is how Dr Miller represents the 4 moods and their components graphically:

The four moods

It's a very simple and yet immensely useful way of looking at that elusive 'mood' of mine. Dr Miller's diagramme makes it immediately evident to me that I have become very good at managing my mood in a way that moves it from 2 to 3: I can feel good even when my energy is low.

Calm is the indispensable place where we all recharge our batteries and resource our energy. I am now painfully aware that I lived too much of my life in Action mode (and mood) which inevitably exhausted my energy to the point where my whole body broke down.

The trouble with staying in Calm mode (or mood) ALL THE TIME is that it isn't conducive to taking Action. I have occasionally worried about my new found capacity for doing absolutely NOTHING for hours on end .... The trouble is that I am scared of pushing myself too hard into an Action mood lest I should break down again. This prospect does make me Anxious.

So the challenge for me is this: how do I move my energy level up in a SAFE way?

I haven't found the answer yet because all my old 'tricks' have proved themselves to be dangerous. I am very wary of my willpower for that very reason! I suppose I have done very well so far: being able to manage my mood from Depression to Calm is an achievement in itself and I do acknowledge and celebrate that achievement.

I am like the explorer who looks upon the land of Action as dangerous territory. They say that forewarned is forearmed so I guess preparation is the key. The trouble is, I am as yet unclear as to what that preparation entails.

Time to experiment and learn....

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