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Bad Moods Lose Their Power If You Name Them
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Bad Moods Lose Their Power If You Name Them

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Phil. Phil is my bad mood and he is going to lose his power since I have named him. Crazy as it sounds, it might actually work. Actually, according to a number of mood studies, naming your mood can help you shake it off and may even reset you back to a more positive feeling by a complex reaction in the brain. Giving the feelings a label or name reduces the activity in a certain area of the brain- the amygdala which then decreases the intensity of the emotion that you are feeling. The amygdala is the part of the brain that has control over the emotions.

While the experts are not suggesting that you call your bad or negative moods by an actual name (like Phil), they do suggest labeling them with terms that ring true for you like "blue" or "angry" or "mad as a wet hen". Whatever feels the most authentic to you will work the best. I embrace my negative moods so those that are the worst for me are going to be Phil from here on out. The really bad ones can be Philip. If people ask what is wrong, I will smile charmingly and say "Phil is really bothering me" and then leave them wondering who this Phil is and why I spend so much time with him since I am obviously miserable. I have so few distractions of this sort so grant me this small favor.

The experts do have a point, however. In a similar study, experts found that acknowledging a craving for a certain food and then emphatically denying it with the words " I don't" was more likely to work than trying to ignore the craving or by using the phrase " I can't". I can't was seen as a less forceful phrase and did not give the power over the craving. I can't eat that suggests that I really want to but I am not "allowed which is weak. I don't eat that means that I made this decision and is strong and positive. I made this decision and I am sticking to it.

So, Phil, my bad mood and the dozen or so cravings that come around sometimes gang up. What do the experts suggest when bad moods and cravings converge on one poor, unsuspecting person? They suggest going for a walk, having a small amount of the food in question or (my favorite) taking a nap. That does it, Phil, I have had it. I will be back after I have a nap and my friend Dave (the good mood) shows back up.


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