I woke up in a bad mood.

Not like me. Normally I’m pretty balanced. But today, there was a flea in my ear. I was in an odd mood, felt low.

I went downstairs and did my usual morning routine. Warm lemon water, meditated for 20 mins, made my leaf tea and sat down to read a book to broaden my mind.

Then the kids came down, early, and my routine was interrupted.

Even though I am a big advocate of present parenting I still like my own space. I was looking forward to learning more about Question Based Selling (a great book, by Tom Freese recommended to me by my coach, Steve Chandler). But parenthood had other ideas.

I saw my sons and my heart opened. I cuddled them both and told them I loved them. Got them a drink and started to get their breakfast ready.

Then one of my dogs, who is not long for this life, peed on the floor for the second time in the space of 30 minutes. I got the mop out and cleaned it up.

Then the bickering started. My eldest was teasing my youngest. I sent a couple of gentle warnings to them to stop but they continued.

I felt my mood lowering like a setting sun amidst a brewing storm.

I continued making breakfast. One wanted pancakes with Nutella, one wanted bread with Nutella. I added two bowls of fruit to offset the chocolate spread.

The bickering started again so I raised my voice and shouted at them to stop. Something I don’t do too often. They stopped.

My wife came down and asked what was going on.

“Nothing”, I replied, with a frown on my face. “Just a bit tired today and the boys are playing up”.

I carried on and felt my mood worsening. Clouds started brewing and dark thoughts crept in, things like:

“I need some space.”

“The kids are a nightmare today.”

“Why is our dog p***ing everywhere, does he have no idea how frustrating it is!”

“They’re watching TV, they should be outside playing in the garden, I don’t want them to be couch potatoes.”

“What’s up with my wife, doesn’t she know it’s ok for me to be in a low mood now and again, she just doesn’t understand me.”

“I have so many things to do to the house and garden, and need to get back on track after our holiday.”

“I’m bored with life and need a new challenge.”

“Is this what life is all about? Being up early and interrupted again by my sons when I want to read and learn.”

“I’m fed up with being a dad and husband, I have so much more I want to explore with my life.”

“I need to create … when I don’t create I get a buildup of energy inside that makes me angst.”

Blah, blah, blah … my mind was chattering away like a deranged chimp who’d lost his favourite bunch of bananas.

“You look like you’re in a bad mood today, everything ok?” My wife asked, clearly falling for the bait of my sulky teenager face.

“It’s ok for me to be in a bad mood now and again, you of all people should understand.” I snapped back.

“Tell you what we need to do, we need to get outside with the boys, go for a walk, or go to the beach. I know we’ve just got back from holiday but the weekend weather is lovely and we should make the most of it before it stops.”

I was clutching at straws and looking outside myself for a solution to my low mood.

We had some back and forth before I came out of my thoughts, slowed down and said to my wife, “I’d like to talk and tell you what’s going on in my head at the moment, so you understand, I have loads of thoughts I want to share with you. And, it’s ok, they’re not real, just wanted to let you know.”

She could see by the look on my face that whatever she said I was determined to release the energy that had built up in myself and share my monkey mind chattering away.

She patiently looked at me and said, “ok, do you think now’s the right time?”

“Yes, 100%.” I replied.

Now … this wasn’t the ‘perfect’ way to start a conversation but it was progress. And, progress beats perfection every time.

I listed off 15-20 thoughts that were going through my head, like the ones above, and she listened, biting her tongue with expert poise.

After I finished, I said, “thing is, I know they’re all thoughts, nothing else. But I wanted to tell you so you have a window into my inner world.”

I continued, “And, I’m looking for things outside of myself to try and ‘fix’ what’s going on inside of me. I’m looking at the kids and judging them for watching morning TV, I’m judging you for not understanding me, I’m judging myself and my life thinking I need to do more to make me feel better … and … it’s all bullshit.”

She looked at me again and said, “I understand.”

I continued.

“Nothing of what I’m saying is true, at all. As I was talking to you I realised that, once again, thought creates everything and they can sometimes be so powerful that I believe them. I woke up in a low mood today, no idea why, but I know it will pass as low moods often do. It’s part of being human to experience a fluctuating mindset and I’m judging the hell out of myself and everyone and everything around me to try and compensate for why I feel like I do this morning.”

“We have a great life, our sons are not couch potatoes, we understand each other, business is going well and I’m working with some great people, my book is almost finished, I’m enjoying writing and creating, we’re fit and healthy — that’s my reality.”

We carried on chatting and talking about the importance of life balance, purpose, parenting, and communication and something amazing happened.

My mood lifted. Not immediately, but over the course of 5-10 minutes of talking, in the midst of being interrupted by our youngest son who was trying to convince us that he couldn’t at any more blueberries because it would make him late for the opticians — he’s five. Beats the dog eating homework … I admire his creativity.

My wife and I hugged each other.

It reminded me that communication can solve anything, pretty much.

What actually happened here was two forms of communication that helped me.

Being vulnerable enough to share my thoughts authentically with my wife, to release them into the wild. She listened without judgement and I instantly felt better. What I used to do is bottle them up inside and they would fester and rot inside me, occasionally spurting out in a passive-aggressive comment with venom. This sometimes happens, even now, but far more infrequently since I started working on myself, my mindset, meditating and slowing down inside to observe my thoughts and not attach myself to them. This is a skill that gets built up with practice, much like playing an instrument or learning a new sport.

Secondly, I communicated with myself, and played ‘watcher’ to my thoughts as I was expressing them, and challenged them by asking “is that true?”.

The events this morning inspired me to write this. It’s not overly comfortable sharing my mindset from this morning but it is authentic.

Sometimes, being a coach, people can assume that I have everything ‘sorted’ and that everything is ‘perfect’ … truth is I am human. I know that may be a surprise to you but I am.

I have high moods, low moods, healthy mindset, unhealthy mindset — all the traits and behaviours of other humans. Of which, as I understand it, there are 4,126 that we share. And, I practice to develop myself, all the time.

I thought it may help you to read this and slow down when you’re having a low mood moment, or challenging time, and play observer to your thoughts as I did.

If you do, and you want to challenge those thoughts then you can do a couple of things that may help.

Firstly, sit down, and write out the thoughts you’re having that are rushing through your mind and then, once finished, next to each one, ask this question:

Is that true?

Then ask:

Are you absolutely sure that thought is true?

Then ask, if you answer yes again:

How do you know?

Doing this a few times should have the effect of settling down your mind and allowing you to transcend the mental chatter and play watcher to interrogate the thoughts.

This is a ‘light’ version of ‘The Work’ that Byron Katie created. I highly recommend looking her up on YouTube and also her books on Amazon. Particularly ‘Loving What Is’.

What you may find, as I did, that the majority of thoughts you are having are not true, they are just thoughts. Chances are you’re in a low mood that will soon pass, like a storm.

Talking to someone who cares for you about your mindset and thoughts, as I did, may also help. It could be your partner, friend, or coach. Someone who isn’t going to judge you. Someone you feel comfortable in opening up to about your inner chimp chatter.

Actually expressing yourself about how you feel releases the energy driving the thoughts (which are actually light waves, if you get down to Quantum Physics, but that’s a different subject altogether!), and allows you to rebalance. Something magical happens when you hear yourself talking to another person about your inner chatter. You get to observe in real time, when your external hearing sense kicks in, what your thoughts sound like when you’re in a low mood and there’s something very enlightening and freeing happens when you do this. You get to play ‘watcher’. Something that meditating and mindfulness can help develop.

Now, as with all things, don’t take my word for it. Practice. Do some experiments. It’s very vulnerable to show up to another person and let them into your inner world for a moment. If you’re not sure how to approach this the first time you could always start by saying something like:

“There’s something I’d like to share with you that may sound a bit odd but it would really help me if you’d be open to listening to me without judgement. I’m imagining a few things at the moment and sharing my thoughts with may be really helpful. Would you be okay with that?”

Or a version that works for you.

Remember … thoughts come and go like the wind blowing leaves off the trees in autumn … you are not your thoughts … and, it’s ok to have a low mindset now and again, it’s very human, so don’t judge yourself. Show the same level of care and love to yourself as you would to your best friend, child, or partner if they came to you with some concerns. Self-care, love, and understanding of oneself is the starting place for most development.

So, that’s a window into my world. My aim when writing is to create something I feel would have helped me at some stage in my life … with the purpose of it now being able to help you.

I hope you found this useful. I’m now off to find my favourite bunch of bananas.

Love and wellness,

David.

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” Brene Brown.