We make the analogy that moods are to climate as emotions are to weather.
It’s possible to have warm sunny days in a cold damp climate, but most of the time, it’s going to be cold and damp. Likewise, you can be in a mood of resentment or anger or resignation and have days when you are sunny and upbeat. But most of the time, you are going to be resentful, angry or resigned – and you may not even be aware of it other than a vague sense of irritability.
Those three moods by the way are quite common, many people walk around in moods of resentment, anger or resignation without realizing it. Many organizations are blissfully unaware that their culture fosters moods of resentment, anger and resignation, and they are often at a loss to explain why their organization fails to thrive or produce in ways that they had hoped and planned for.
Ken Homer received his Integral Coaching Certification in 2000 at New Ventures West. Based in part on the work of Ken Wilber, Integral Coaching seeks to assess the breakdowns that a client is experiencing and to develop a coaching program that will develop the needed competencies for the client to successfully navigate those breakdowns on their own.
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Moods Can Be Like Climate As Emotions Are To Weather
If it is discovered that you or the organization you are working with/for are in a mood that does not move you in the direction you want to go, then the work to be done is to learn how to shift your mood. This is normally easier said than done, though it is not unheard of that when people realize they are operating from a mood they do not wish to be in, that shifts can be quite rapid and spontaneous. On the other hand, moods that have lasted months or years can take more than a single coaching session to shift.
Once you have observed your mood and realized you want to shift to another mood, the questions of which mood to choose and how to shift to it come into focus. Moods of resentment, anger and resignation are moods that tend to rob us of our sense of agency and can leave us feeling like we are the victims of other people’s actions. Witness the poor crew of Dilbert, no matter what he and his co-workers do, the pointy haired boss nearly always thwarts their efforts in the end. The Dilbert comic strips are actually wonderful examples of how certain types of corporate culture lead to people experiencing moods of resentment, anger and resignation. After all, if your best efforts are constantly thwarted, it becomes difficult to impossible to feel much in the way wonder, curiosity or ambition.
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In fact, moods of wonder, curiosity and ambition are the antidote moods for resentment, anger and resignation. When we operate from wonder, curiosity and ambition, the world opens up to us. We sense that we can influence and shape the events in our lives, that we can work with others in ways that bring out the best in ourselves and each other, and that our work together serves some purpose; perhaps even a purpose larger than ourselves, which for many people can evoke and tap into the spiritual dimension of life. Witness the many people who are fortunate enough to be doing work that answers some kind of calling, and how that allows them to feel connected to their purpose in life. It’s worth noting that Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, points out that “purpose, autonomy and mastery” are the main factors that drive successful people.
So, all that said, how do we shift ourselves from a mood that leaves us feeling drained and/or victimized to one where we have a sense of power, control or at least significant influence in our lives?
How To Shift Your Mood
Partner A is the actor, partner B the observer.
Partner A, assume a stance of dejection, shoulders slumped, arms hanging down in front of your body, belly sticking out, head forward, chin on chest, gaze downcast, mouth frowning, breathing shallowly.
Now say the following words out loud:
Boy, do I feel great!
Partner B, observe partner A and give them feedback on how their statement of well being appears to your ears and eyes. Then Partner A gives feedback to partner B on how it felt to stand in this manner and speak these words.
Next, partner A assumes as stance of power - stand erect, ears over shoulders, shoulders back, chest open, hips over knees, knees slightly bent, but aligned over your ankles, feet shoulder width apart, chin slightly tucked and feel as though a cord is lifting you from the very top of your head. Breathe deeply and say:
Boy, do I feel great!
Partner B give them feedback on how this statement is to your eyes and ears. Then partner A shares with B how it was to do the exercise from this position.
While these two steps can be enlightening and exciting, two additional steps are required to successfully shift our mood and make it stick.
The third step is to develop a practice and work it for at least six weeks to make it a habit. The fourth is to create and regularly tap into a support system. This is where things can get tricky if we are immersed in an environment where the prevailing mood of those around us is the one we are trying to change.
Without regular practice and support from others who can help us to recognize that we are in a milieu that is detrimental to our emotional well being, it’s very easy and almost certain that our old mood will soon assert itself.
Another resource is the work of Alan Sieler of the Newfield Network in Australia, and his books on Coaching to the Human Soul volumes 1, 2 & 3. Rarely have I read an author with such a deep understanding of the human condition whose suggestion on how to better that condition are both wise and practical.
Every mood has a somatic imprint
Moods of resentment, anger and resignation tend to cut us off from our breath, sap our strength and leave us unable to articulate well being in a convincing manner. While moods of wonder, ambition and curiosity open us up to the world in a wholly different way.
The Power of Environment
For those of you who are interested in some well grounded research on how changing physiology can affect your performance, I suggest you check out Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy. Here are two talks that align well with the assertions in this post:
Author Ken Homer is the founder of Collaborative Conversations: Include More Voices - Make Better Choices. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area designing conversations for groups small and large. More information can be found at www.collaborativeconversations.com
Watch Conversation and Listening by Ken Homer with David Hodgson at the I-Open civic wisdom library on Vimeo.
Read the transcription, "Conversation and Listening" by Ken Homer in the I-Open library on Scribd.
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