Everyone has ups and downs, even those who seem not to.
But what if that down you’re in seems to have legs? Like a few weeks of persistent low energy, low motivation, low appetite (or massive appetite).
Often when someone has a persistent low mood they start asking themselves ( or a loved one observes) that they may be depressed.
Or burning out, or something unidentified is wrong with them.
Fair point. If you’re battling with a persistent low mood, then there may be merit in exploring whether you need some deeper help. Checking out if it’s depression or not and if you need specialist support.
What I see now and share with my senior leader dad clients, is that they don’t need to fixate about low mood thinking. In fact, the more that they do, the more likely their mood will be prolonged.
I explain how and why in this post.
As someone who’s had bouts of depression often in my adult life, my thinking was often this:
I hate how I’m feeling and I don’t know how to get out of it.
I need to get out of it, otherwise others will notice / do / say something.
If I’m found out I could lose…. my position / respect / my relationship/ my livelihood.
This kind of circular thinking did nothing to lift my mood. It often made it worse.
Equally, if I ever latched on to something at a point when my mood seem to change, I became convinced that was the magic bullet to save the day in the future.
It might be going for a walk. Listening to music. Having a long bath. Meditating. Journalling. Yoga. Therapy.
You name it, I thought it was the thing that created the magic shift.
When I worked with a coach, I began to see things differently.
Firstly, he pointed out that mood states were transient.
Doh! Of course, they were, I knew that; except when I didn’t.
Which was when I was in a low mood, doing my damndest to fix it and make it all better.
If I’d really known moods were transient, why would I have sweated them at all. If there was a guarantee that I would always come out of them, then why waste effort on trying to make myself better.
The second thing he shared which made a big impact was that, for all of us, our default state is wellbeing.
It’s our ‘room temperature’ if you will.
When I share this with my clients, it takes a moment for them to calibrate their experience of reality.
When we’re caught up in endless spirals of negative thinking, it can seem unlikely or even impossible that our natural state is wellbeing.
But just look at a young child to see if this is true. They pass in and out of low mood states incredibly quickly. Most of the time, they are bouncing with joy, smiling, laughing, sociable, connected, present.
That’s how we’re all born.
Sure life experiences, conditioning, personality all engrave themselves on us and have us lose touch with that innate wellbeing, but it’s still there. Just under the surface.
When our thinking about how things should be (including mood) then we fall awake again to that innate wellbeing that is always there.
Thirdly, he asked me, whether, when I was in a low mood, it affected my work with my clients.
I reflected… ‘No way, I said. I found myself present and connected, even when, in the minutes preceding the session, I had been feeling low’
Seeing this woke me up to a realisation. Low mood = a lot on my mind, whether I’m conscious of it or not.
Room temperature = present, content, happy, open, free, connected.
In my coaching program for dads, I help them see these truths about mood for themselves, by sharing stories, analogies and taking them through their own process of enquiry into the nature of their experience.
Gently, persistently and with great clarity, we pull apart the innocent misunderstandings that have them resisting their moods, beating themselves up for feeling them.
I am continually in this process myself, finding new edges where I don’t yet see how my experience is being created, moment to moment.
As we go deeper and deeper into clarifying these misunderstandings, clients find a deeper feeling of peace and wellbeing in themselves, that has always been there, but was obscured by layers of toxic thinking.
Once you see it, it’s very simple… and completely freeing.
Often senior leader and entrepreneur dads I help in my 6 month 1 on 1 online coaching program feel confused and alarmed by their mood swings.
I show them how to go from fearing their moods and trying to fix them, battling their workaholism, approaching burnout and not being present, to creating a consistent feeling of inner peace. With it, they reconnect with excitement, engagement, motivation and greater fulfilment in both their work and family life.
At the start of our work, we dive into the innocent misunderstanding about moods and how they don’t need to dictate what we do and how we do it. Doing so, leads them into a lighter way of living their life.
If you’d like to find out more about how this programme can help you and if you’re a good fit, send me an email.