Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Contagiousness of Moods

Ever find yourself feeling more cranky when you're around someone whose in a crabby mood?

** Or **

Find your mood lifting when you are around a person who is happy and buoyant?

When people are in a particular mood, be it persnickety or pleasurable, that mood is often communicated to others. Remember when Orson Welles created a panic with his radio theater broadcast of The War of the Worlds - leading listeners to believe that the Earth was being invaded from aliens in outer space? THAT was emotional contagion.

Contagion is a very powerful phenomenon. Seems that we are hard wired to read subtle cues in others, a monkey see, monkey do kind of thing. So, it begs the question - how do you know if you've "caught a mood"?
Do an internal check and see if your current emotional state can be traced to something real within you or if it was picked up along the way. If it's a good emotional contagion, I say ride the wave. If it's a negative one, change your environment. . . allow yourself to fall into more lighthearted experiences.


Godwhacker said...

Today is my anniversary, and with all of my partners pleasing attributes, none is so important to me as his ambient charm. I am the serious one and he is "the life of the party". Together, we are far more balanced then we ever were apart.

Great post!

Heidi said...

What an interesting topic and very true..If I'm around someone who is moody then I just get p'd off.

I have a friend I've known since HighSchool..I have never seen her in a bad mood..Always smiling, joyful etc..Sometimes I think she takes " happy pills"

Rose said...

This is so true. I hate being around folks who are in a bad mood. But this reminds me of that thingy to when someone yawns around you, you will do it too.

kath said...

SO TRUE !!!!!!!!!!!!

I have noticed this for years. I try hard not to be one who brings down the mood.. It has been difficult lately at work.. burnout know?

I also find that places have that sort of energy. Did you ever go to a place that just made you feel wonderful? sort of nurtured? Or walk into a place that seemed to settle heavily on your shoulders?

It is all about the energy that you project. I try to be one who carries positive energy, but being only human fall down now and then.

I swear your blog gets fancier and more appealing each time I visit..

must be your positive energy!!!

Fallen Angels said...

Being around negative people brings us down very quickly...we try to get away from them if possible. But what does one do if you can not get away from them? Like the negative ones that I share a body with. Just kidding...sort of :P


Nancy said...

Hi Dr Deb, this is so true, negative energy brings me down and being around upbeat or positive people is always healthier for me. I love the picture you chose...the
Domino Effect has been around for years.
thanks for another good one

Ian Lidster said...

I think those thoughts are excellent, Deb, and so very true. Hence you get the concept of the 'toxic person' either in the workplace or even, sadly (I've been there) in a relationship. The peril is sometimes we start to play the negative person's game, in which case they are persistently pulling our strings -- if we let them.
Of course, the same thought works within oneself. If I am feeling positive, then exponentially my positive feelings will build on themselves. Thanks for a good Sunday morning thought.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear GW,
I wish you and your partner many more years of happiness. Isn't it wonderful to have a soul mate!

Dear Heidi,
I try not surround myself with negative individuals. Everyone can have a bad day, but there ARE some who seem to be in a perpetual bad state.

Dear Rose,
Oh, how funny. We were in a circle of yawns last night!

Dear Kath,
I am drawn to such places and people. Anyplace or anyone who can make me feel at ease is on my list! And what a nice compliment. Thank you, dah-ling.

Dear Fallen,
I often think or distract myself from a negative person with nice memories, nice thoughts, etc. It's hard to do, but I try.

Dear Nancy,
Hubby is in a cranky mood today. So I will hightail it toward more pleasant company!

Dear Ian,
You are so right about the "toxic person". Great insight. I also tend to find an exponential experience when in a positive mood. The opposite, of course, when I'm feeling down or around someone negative. Happy Sunday.


dawn said...

Yes, 100%

I have a # 1 in my life on a daily basis and I have to distance myself from them time to time because they bring me down so much.

cranky people make me wanna scream sometimes.

Meow said...

Wow, Deb ... that is sooo true. How easy is it to pick up the negative vibes that people send out ... and how hard can it be to shake them off again.
I love being around happy people, loving people ... it is such a wonderful feeling. But I hate being dragged down by the opposite.
HOpe you are well.
Take care, Meow

Cathy said...

I completely agree with this; people can bring us up or down; it also reminds me of other things: like singing with someone who sings better than we do (we get better too) or playing tennis with someone who plays better (we suddenly have a stronger forehand)...
Anyway, I hope you have a lovely week, Deb!

PalmTreeChick said...

good advice. Moods are definitely contagious.

OHN said...

I actually I think this is my worst trait. I can be in a fine mood and when husband comes in and is angry about kids, the house, etc, my happiness immediately disappears and I feel like I need to walk on eggshells. I really resent this and hate to admit that when he is away for a day or so the whole house is more mellow. He is not a mean or angry person but he is a black/white right/wrong person where I am more gray and can see both sides. (I am no fun at a debate;)

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Dawn,
Sometimes moods are more contagious than others. I tend to find when I am feeling confident and in touch with my inner experiences, I am less prone to catching a bad mood ;)

Dear Meow,
I go out of my way to AVOID people who are consistently mean and negative.

Dear Cathy,
Those are great examples. You're such a smarty.

Dear Palmtree,
They are indeed.

Dear Ohn,
I am similar. I can be easily thrown by my hubby. I try to see that his grumpiness sets off my own, and vice versa.


Beth said...

I'm very familiar with this - working in a customer facing job its very easy to get angry if a customer is angry with you.

One the reverse of that, I'm having a very hard time of things at the moment and I'm trying my hardest to be around people who are up and happy to try and pull me out of my slump.

~Deb said...

I totally agree with this! I find myself becoming depressed when I'm surrounded by people who are down. It's true---it does rub off on you!

Miranda said...

Good post. I find Im usually a very positive person, but as of late...there has been so much negativity around me that it's hard to function.

alan said...

I "work" at always trying to smile and be pleasant to others even when I don't really feel that way inside; usually before the day is done, it comes back to me somehow and things brighten.


Todd and in Charge said...

Great post, sometimes I notice I pick up moods from my kids, and vice versa.

Happy Anniversary GW!

Nella said...

I get that way at times..

Clare said...

Hi Deb

I think I'm one of those people that Heidi mentioned that always seems to be happy (other than lately because of work). It's not often I get in a bad mood. I guess I don't have that temprement and cranky people don't often drag me down. Perhaps you have an answer as to why that is?

Ms.L said...

Oh it so true!
I'm showing my husband your
post,he doesn't believe me,lol.
Now I've got proof,hehehe;p

ellesu said...

I agree. So very true. Even a smile or quick "Hello" does wonders.

One of my favorite commercials is the one where someone helps a stranger out, and someone else notices it and helps another person out -- setting up a chain of random kindnesses. ....The commercial's impression on me was so strong, I can't remember what business the ad is for.

Shannon A. Long said...

This is too true. Here, where it’s finals week, everyone has caught a case of “the bitch”

Dr. A said...

This idea seems to be very popular these days, particularly in book stores. Other people have called this the "Law of Attraction," and the popular book "The Secret" also talks of this concept.

I completely agree with what you're saying and have experienced this myself. Great comments here also!

Id it is said...

"ride the wave" ...I'm going to remember that the next time I get into a crabby mood. You are right more often than not we imbibe the negative vibes and then they become ours for the keeping; well now the trick phrase for me is "ride the wave." I hope I remember it at the right time, and then I hope it works.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc Deb, Just ran into your blog site. It's wonderful!

I have a friend that starts off being so wonderfully upbeat, but by the end of the conversation it is so depressing. I would imagine, just another way for negativity to creep in on one when one is not expecting it. It sort of feels like a sneak attack. The conversation starts off so good and positive and ends up being a bash on society, public transportation, parking, grocery shopping etc. I think I need to limit this person in my life.

Thanks for an enlightening blog. I'll be back again. Jill

Raine said...

I'm thinking it must be very hard to be a therapist in light of this post......

Dreaming again said...

Funny, I'm working at not always BEING one of those always happy people ;)

Ok, that sounds weird in when you see it in print.

I was one of those pollyanna people.(my mother actually CALLED ME THAT!! ) No matter what went wrong ... life was rosy, honkey dorey! :D

Only, I was numbing the pain and laughing life away. Not feeling the grief or sadness.

So now I'm trying to work on feeling the grief and happiness that's real ... and realizing there is a difference between living a life of joy and being "HAPPY" all the time.

I still must say, I don't like feelings. BLAH. Pollyanna syndrome is so much easier ;)

S'onnie said...

This can be so true but in some instances it can be the opposite, for example if I am with some one who is always depressed always focusing on the negative, it makes me want to cheer them up so I focus on the good side of life and this cheers me up!

S'onnie said...

Oh btw I have closed my old sunnies daze blog down and have started again.. im back with my real nick name again :)

Wendy C. said...

Yep - there is nothing like a "party pooper" to ruin my day. I feel more comfortable around people who are upbeat, it really does "rub off".

jane said...

I've discontinued 2 "friendships" due to this very reason. Both people were negative, everything was about THEM...I was just a listener & afterwards I'd be in the bitchest mood!
On the other hand, there are some people, such as my daughter, I always feel better when I hear her voice; an instant smile.

jumpinginpuddles said...

We love being the life of the party and people love us being so the down side we can be that and then go home and collapse into tears, sometimes rubbing off on people and making them happy so they feel better can actually make it worse for you and can place you into a corner of always having to be that

HP said...

So true. If I feel myself in a bad mood, I tend to remove myself from situations until it passes..

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Beth,
I can understand what you are going through.

Dear Deb,
Misery likes company, but I'd rather not visit, if ya know what I mean.

Dear Miranda,
I hope the positive stuff will overshadow the negative for you soon.

Dear Alan,
I also try to shake it off. Sometimes I can, other times I can't. But being around an upbeat person DOES help.

Dear TAIC,
Yup. Same here too.

Dear Nella,
Me too.

Dear Clare,
What a great temperment you have. Your resiliency may be the reason why you don't get too dragged down.

Dear Ms. L,

Dear Ellesu,
Paying It Forward is a grand phenomenon. I'm a big fan of it!

Dear Shannon,
Sooooo true.

Dear Dr. A.
I haven't read either of those books. The power of suggestion is indeed powerful.

Dear Id,
Somtimes, all we need is a piece of a coping style to take hold. I hope it can work for you.

Dear Anon (Jill),
Hope you'll come back and visit. Do you have a blog?

Dear Raine,
Therapists learn how to counter such contagion....skilled therapists can do work with an ease once they learn how to do this.

Dear Dreaming,
Feelings ARE hard sometimes! Ain't that the truth.

Dear S'Onnie,
That is true. Good point. And I've updated your linkage, my friend.

Dear Wendy,
I am very susceptible to other's moods when I am not in my "working clinical mode". I tend to prefer being around upbeat people too.

Dear Jane,
I have done the same. Not that I am unempathic or insesnitive (as you are not either) but being around a person who is negative or toxic is not a good thing. Life is too short.

Dear JIP,
Oh, that must be hard :( Here's to letting more of the realness out.

Dear HP,
I tend to isolate myself if I am in a bad mood - my own stuff. But if I find myself shifting from a toxic person, I hightail it outta there if I can't cope well.


patientanonymous said...

Wow, I found it amazing how many people identified with post as saying it was true.

I find that it is partially true for me and partially not true.

If someone around me is in a "negative space" we'll just say then if I can, I will try and help them. If I can't then I will leave them alone and try and let them sort out whatever is bothering them. This might be with someone who is more distant from me--that I don't have a close interpersonal connection with.

Now, if something happens with someone I *really* care about, I will still try to help but if I am shut out, I don't necessarily get "dragged down"--like, "Oh you put me in a bad mood"-- but I am more likely to be worried, upset, anxious, self-blaming...kind of turn it all inward.

I also find that this tends to fluctuate with my mood states, how stable I am re: Bipolar weirdness, how I may be feeling physically and also the exact nature of the relationship again, with the person and what may be going on in that given situation. A lot of variables to consider and not B&W or the same in every situation.

So a very long answer but yes, this can sometimes happen to me and at other times, no.

J.D. said...

Absolutely, positively, yupadoodles.

So much so, I am very picky about people I choose to let into my friendship circle. Not always possible with work people, though I've been fortunate in my later years.

Raine said...

Happy Mothers Day

Dr. Deb said...

Dear PA<
Your comments aligns very much with how I operate as well.

Dear JD,
I am extremely guarded about who I allow into my life as well.

Dear Raine,
Thank you. I hope you and your daughter had a special Mother's Day as well.