Your unsolved problems and unfinished businesses have a significant impact on your mood.
The major reason behind experiencing a bad mood is either facing a new life problem or encountering something that reminds you of an already existing problem i.e. an unsolved problem from your past.
We don’t feel bad when we encounter minor problems. All they do is bother us a little and then we forget about them.
However, when they get accumulated over time they become monsters that can end up making us feel terrible.
Why misfortunes never happen singly
When we face problems that we consider small (or too unimportant to solve right away) or the ones that we aren’t able to deal with immediately, we may consciously forget about them but in our subconscious mind, they are actually piling up over time.
Later, when we face a major problem, these consciously ignored problems resurface and their combined effect along with the effect of the major problem results in a major mood swing.
When we face a major problem, our mind gets fine-tuned to scan every other issue in our life and when it finds a huge a pile of unsolved problems, it makes us feel very bad (Bad mood is just a warning).
You see our mind works very much like Google. When you enter a keyword in the Google search box, everything related to that keyword shows up in the search results. Similarly, when you feel bad due to some reason, your mind scans your life for every other possible reason that can make you feel bad.
Just like we remember happy past life events when we are feeling happy, we remember sad past events when we are sad. Bits of information that are stored in our mind are linked to each other not only by virtue of their similarity but also by virtue of the common emotion associated with them.
For example, when you come across the word “apple”, you may not only remember the red colour and the round shape that it has but also how it ‘feels’ to taste it.
If you eat an unknown fruit that tastes like an apple, you will recall the apple because your mind had associated that taste with an apple. You are likely to say, “This tastes like an apple”.
When you feel bad in the face of a major negative event, your mind will look into your past and try to match your current emotional state with previous similar life experiences, similar in the sense that they also had the tendency to generate the same emotional state in you.
To cut the long story short, when you feel a certain way (whether good or bad); your mind tends to keep you in that emotional state by using information from the past.
Okay, so what can be done about it?
What if your mind has nothing to look for in your past when you face a major problem? What if you solve your previous problems as soon as you face them no matter how small they are and don’t let them pile up?
That way, when a major negative event happens, you won’t feel as bad as you would have if you had a large pile of accumulated problems.
You may, however, remember a few negative events from the past but they won’t bother you at all if you’ve already dealt with those issues.
Changing your perception of the past
Your mind has a tendency to maintain your current emotional state by scanning your past. By making sure your past is free of unresolved issues you can face current and future life challenges in a much better way.
You can’t change your past but you can change the perception of it and thankfully that’s all that matters.
For instance, if you were bullied earlier in life and every humiliating experience today unconsciously reminds you of your bad past experience (which increases the intensity of your bad feelings), then you can resolve this issue by understanding why you were bullied.
Let’s say you searched a lot to figure out the psychological reasons behind bullying and finally understood that you were bullied not because there was something wrong with you but because the bully who bullied you was feeling inferior inside.
Will your mind remind you of this event again whenever you feel humiliated? No way! Since you totally changed your perception and meaning of the past event, your mind will have nothing to look for in your past to make you feel bad.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 300+ articles and on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.