in {ask gem} I answer questions from people just like you. Want your question answered? Shoot me a note and I’ll do my best to come up with something helpful. 

Question :: I’ve noticed that I sometimes I get stuck in emotions like anger and sadness for a long time and I have a hard time getting out of them. I was hoping you could do a video blog on this because I think a lot of people struggle with it.  

Moods exist because of emotional states.

An emotion is a momentary state that has a desire to fade, and if we allow it to, it will.

A mood is the extended experience of an emotion we are holding onto. It’s basically an enhanced readiness to experience a certain emotion.

For example, if you spill orange juice on yourself in the morning, you might have a burst of annoyance. The emotion of annoyance could hang out in your neurons for a period of time, festering into a bad mood. So if you step on the toys your children left out five minutes after you spilled orange juice, then you’re more likely to have a bigger emotional response because of the mood you’re in.

Why do people have dominating moods of either contentment or depression, peace or hostility?

What you think about comes about.

The thoughts we have and the memories we relive in our minds can recirculate the experience and will stimulate the emotion, even if it’s not real, true, or currently happening.

What does this mean? The more you think about tripping over your child’s toy, the angrier you will become, and the more likely it is that you will snap at the next irritation.

The limbic part of your brain is unable to distinguish between things actually happening and things you are just thinking about or imagining.

So if you spend time ruminating on the boss you hate, the spouse who doesn’t do the laundry, or the friend that never calls you back, your neurotransmitters and hormones will change to that of a chronically angry person, your blood pressure and heart rate will increase, and soon you’ll have a mind and body that are utterly stressed out.

What can you do about it?

Create a list of memories or thoughts that have an intensely positive emotional impact {like a photo wall of happy memories, an audio recording of your child laughing, a scrapbook of the best adventures you’ve ever had, or a collection of thoughtful cards from loved ones}.

When you find yourself getting stuck on a negative emotional loop, saturate your mind in the good stuff :: look at the images, hear the laughter, smell the lemonade, feel the joy, let yourself smile, and watch your physiology transform.

Hope this helps!

xo & ox,