Moods can be catching, like colds. Picking up the mood of another person is called social contagion, writes David R. Hamilton in the article, "Emotional Contagion: Are Your Feelings 'Infecting' Others?," on the Huffington Post website. While social contagion helps people connect, it also can lead to uncomfortable and undesirable mood changes. Self-awareness can help you avoid letting the mood of others affect you.
Choose Your Mood
You may have heard the saying, "I like who I am when I'm with you." The author of those words is self-aware, recognizing how the moods and attitudes of others affect her mood. Knowledge is power when it comes to the phenomenon of social contagion. When you are around someone who is in a negative mood and you feel your mood sinking, take action to change your mood by being more conscious of what is going on. Think about what you feel and make choices. Make your mood a decision, not a reaction.
Don't Take the Blame
Often, an individual tries to "help" the person who is in a negative mood out of a perceived notion that he is interested in the other person. But that may not be the case, writes Dr. Alex Lickerman in a Psychology Today article, "How to Manage Your Partner's Bad Moods." The real reason for trying to resolve another person's bad mood can be your way of avoiding getting into a bad mood yourself. If another person's bad mood is having a negative effect on you, don't try to fix it unless you did something to prompt it.
Negative moods can be draining, not only for the person who is in a negative mood, but for others. If you have a family member, coworker or associate who tends to be in a negative mood frequently, plan a self-defense strategy. Think about how you will give support. Listen, but resolve to remain detached. Have a plan for taking a break from the person for a while, if needed. Running errands, doing chores or taking a shower can give you a mental break to regroup and recharge.
Be a Trend Setter
Let your positive mood -- whether it is bubbly happiness, calm serenity or something in between -- set the tone. When you find yourself in the presence of a negative person, make an effort to display a positive mood. Be aware of the tone of your voice and body language. Make eye contact and smile. Facial expressions trigger a mirror response in an observer, causing that person's brain to respond in a similar manner.
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For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.