You can’t un-see what you saw, or un-know what you discovered. Once, ya know, you have choice. Which is also another way of saying, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
For me, this piece about emotions and moods is one which evokes ‘that Spiderman quote’. When I first learnt this, I felt empowered, along with an initial sense of dread, which came from the realisation that the ‘flavour’ I perceived in each relationship I had with the people in my life were neither incidental nor ‘due to the way they were’.
This ‘flavour’, i.e. the MOOD in the relationship was a built-up of the EMOTIONS that occured most frequently between the parties involved. Some are pleasant emotions. Some are unpleasant; they were emotions from past events that were not properly addressed, or maybe even suppressed.
Having gained the knowledge of what a mood is, I had the choice and/or responsibility to resolve the ones that caused me suffering in certain relationships. Some were easy and/or worth the effort. Others were not as straightforward.
One of my strongest motivations for such interpersonal work has been the awareness that cleaning up a relationship serves me as much as – if not more than – the other party. I generally enjoy more freedom and energy in a relationship that has been resolved of old matters. A clean slate, so to speak.
Fast-forward to today; I now do my best to address the emotions in-the-moment, as they arise, in the interactions I have, especially in the long-term or high-stakes relationships. I often find digging up the past (even if it was a referencing something that happened some minutes ago in a meeting that has concluded) to be a messy affair.
And it can be done in a simple manner. In a meeting, it can sound like this:
I notice I am experiencing anxiety as you describe this.
I feel uncomfortable about this consideration; does anyone else feel similarly?
I am sensing some emotion behind our words at this moment. May I ask how it is going for you?
At such a point, the other party and I may segue into addressing the issue (if they resonate with me), or we may not. In which case, I’ve ‘bookmarked’ that moment, making it easier for me to reference it later on, if I choose to ‘clean up’… even if it is just for myself.
This has helped me keep unintended moods from building up for myself in the relationships that matter.
What mood would you say is in your relationship with your romantic partner?
What mood rules your relationship with your parents?
In your professional organization, what mood is in the background as you and your colleagues work?
What’s the mood that hangs around in your town / city / country?
Then, the million-dollar question: what are the reasons behind your moods with each of these persons / communities?
Hint: look inwards for the answer.