YOUR mood affects everyone around you; likewise, theirs affects you. And it is our responsibility, our duty, to drop our negative emotion when we are with people. Because mood is like a cold- Mood is contagious.
There’s a sentence I love. It goes like this:
When ______ walks in the door are people better off for it or worse?
Fill in the blank with your name. When you walk in the door, whether it’s the bank, your house, your job, on the phone with the cable guy, or at the corner Starbucks, do people light up or do they mumble, “Crap, _____’s here”. Did you drop your negative emotion on their laps, leaving them feeling worse then before you entered?
You’ve seen that customer at the restaurant (well I have, because I waited tables) who walks in wanting to make the waiter miserable. He’s grumpy, complains about everything and makes sure he works the waiter for his tip. It’s mind blowing that he even goes out because he wants to be miserable. Unfortunately, his nasty mood is dropped on those who are in his path. (To give you a visual, the negative mood is like vomit dropped on your lap- I know you needed that). Hopefully, you can have the good humor to shrug it off, but it’s often hard to do, and the effects stay with us often for hours.
Did you ever walk into a room where someone was laughing hysterically and before you know it you were laughing? Or notice a grumpy customer take out his misery on the cashier, and their smile goes away? Or see a teller smile and tell you to have a great day? How did that make you feel? Emotions are contagious and it is our responsibility to be positive around others because we have the power to bring people down.
You might argue, well, what if that’s how I’m feeling! You have two choices in this case, change the way you are viewing the thought you are having (cognitive restructuring, I’ll talk about in a later article) or fake it. Either way, you will always feel better. So it’s a win for you too.
If I haven’t beaten the message- it is our duty to leave our negative baggage in the toilet. We have the power to bring people up or down- which one is you?
This brings me to the The Effects. Basically, there are situations, in which someone’s mood is the dominant mood and affects all of those around them. I’ve coined it, The Mother/Boss Effect.
The Mother Effect
Did you know that a mother’s mood affects the entire household? That gives her a lot of power! – And responsibility. See the mom who is positive, involved, on top of the kids, her life, and the home. She’s up early, smiles often, and just kind of has that easy- breezy, great energy about her. Now look at her kids. Look at her husband. They feel happy, secure, and loved. The kids will have higher a higher self- esteem, become more confident, and end up emotionally stable -all because of you, Mom.
Now look at the unstable mom, who is irritable, often curses, is grumpy and uninvolved, maybe she’s even a “yeller”(yelling families, no good). Look at her husband and look at her kids. Everyone is affected. Everyone feels down. The kids become avoidant, depressed, resentful and angry. They often have conduct issues. Everyone avoids her. Her husband stays at work late.
Mom- you have a lot of responsibility. If you can’t control your irritable moods, see someone for cognitive reconstructing.
For some reason, and not always, dads’ moods don’t have quite the power (although they do have power). Kids feel secure with an emotionally secure mom. Look at the mom’s you know, look at their household.
Let’s move on to…
The Boss Effect
Our mood is controlled by our boss’s mood. (Sorry to make you cringe). That’s right, your boss (that might be you) is powerful (and not just because he/she owns the place).
Your boss has a lot of power (and therefore, responsibility) to change the emotions of her employees. I remember working as a waitress. When the boss entered, there would be a growing anxiety as the staff tried to assess his mood. Once word got out, like wildfire, it spread, if he was in a good mood. And we were relieved when he was. It seemed like it was more important that he was in a good mood then if we made any money! Why is this? Partly because our lives where made easier when he was in a good mood, but more likely, there is a subconscious desire to please our boss, even before ourselves. And if she is unhappy, likely are we.
The bottom line- MOOD IS CONTAGIOUS. And it is our duty to bring a positive outlook for the sake of others.
Jacqueline Donelli is a Psychotherapist in NYC