Emotions and mood

Mood swings, low moods, agitated mood states, sadness, anger, shame, disappointment, grief : all of these states of mood are hard to manage and may overwhelm us. Often if we feel very hypervigilant for some reason it can feel as if we are on a roller coaster and end up being victims of whatever mood-state arrives. This can be overwhelming, confusing and exhausting. Emotions cannot be separated from context, from what is happening or has happened in our lives, and are partly fuelled by patterns in relating to the world shaped by our core beliefs and relationships. Paul Gibert’s Compassion Focused Therapy offers us some maps to think about this and suggests that we are often in one of three states: Threat, Drive or Soothe.

These states have different energy, so that when we are in Threat Mode or Drive Mode we are using a lot of energy and when we are in Soothe, we are resting and restoring. We can forget and lose the art of knowing how to rest! When we feel threatened emotions can hijack us, sends our nervous system into a tail spin and at worst sends our brains offline as we go into Fight and Flight or Freeze/numbing out modes. Many of us are lucky to have learned how to manage our emotions as children or even in adult life in such a way as is good enough so we don’t feel sabotaged by emotions and feelings. Others of us for whatever reason struggle to do so. Events can also send us off kilter. There are many resources that we can develop that help to build self-control, self -reliance and a more accepting and flexible attitude towards our emotions so that the mood of the mind no longer feels like the enemy we have to fight.