A lifetime ago (so it seems) I used to be an IT Project Manager, and one of the favourite axioms of the role was “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Whatever you had to measure was by necessity a very specific thing, contained within particular boundaries, with very clear objectives and commonly recognised references. Managing such a thing then involved figuring out whether the boundaries needed to be changed, whether the objectives were correct, and whether the references were clear enough.
When it comes to moodiness, a similar process applies. We need to have a clear idea of what our mood is, how it’s making us feel, how it’s triggered and what impact it has in order to manage it. Of course, managing it might not always be curtailing it; it might also be prolonging it – so we need to be sure what mood we’re dealing with to know which tack to take.
Often we dismiss our good moods, or fail to notice that we’re in a bad one. We might be so used to being in a particular mood that we and everyone around us assumes that it’s part of our true nature.
But the fact is our moods are like our weather system – they blow hot and cold across us, are ever changing and, crucially, are not us. So we can allow ourselves some objectivity when it comes to our moodiness; in fact objectivity is vital if we’re not to be completely consumed by our mood.
This is where reflective writing comes in. Our journals give us the space to get curious and explore our mood. We can achieve some perspective by removing ourselves from our mood far enough to be able to ask it a question and find out what it has to tell us. We can also engage any physical symptoms we might have in a journaling dialogue, to deepen our awareness and clarify our understanding.
The keys are curiosity and objectivity, and our journals are perfect places to give these free rein.
Eventually, given practice in measuring our mood, it’ll be much easier to manage!