Shifting from Moody Moods

While backstage before a show last weekend, one of my cast members asked me if I ever get upset about anything.

“Of course!” I answered. Merrily.

Then I went on to ramble about how when I was young I took that “stage smile” and showmanship very seriously when I was a kid performing song and dance on stage. The show must go on, blah blah blah as I trailed off into thought…

That answer fit the nickname I’d coined as “Smiley” (among my theater group, and a repeat of a nickname I’ve had since I was young). I’m the one who never needs reminding to give a big grin when performing. But that’s for the stage alone. It is a TERRIBLE answer for the actual question. Do I get upset? 

Truth is, I was in a bad mood just an hour before arriving to the theater. Stressed, annoyed, snippy.

I wasn’t trying to hide this fact intentionally. I’m normal in that I go through a range of emotions like anyone else. But I didn’t bring it up in our conversation at that moment.

On reflection, there’s an important reason why I didn’t bring it up then, but why I find it really important to bring it up now.

That day, I didn’t bring it up because I was putting all my energies and focus on being present and preparing for the best possible live performance. I did this so strongly that even the thought of my bad mood was pushed to the back of my mind and I wasn’t willing to visit it.

Emotions are important, and expressing them is, too. So I normally advise against pushing back bad moods and covering up vulnerabilities as if they never happened. We all have a lot of muck to work through, and I’ve had my share.

But there are times when our presence in the moment, in positive energy, in contributing to something greater than ourselves, is where all our energies should lie. So putting a pause on anything that weighs us down and shifting all the energy over to creating something bigger is the focus that’s needed.

Now, how is it that I shifted from moody Megan to bright and cheery Megan in a short time? Answer: breath, posture & affirmations.

  1. Breath – The breath is the magical place that connects our emotions with our mind and our physical body. Breathe deeply to give yourself a pause in a stressful moment to center yourself, calm down, and get back to solid ground with your emotions.
  2. Posture – Emotions are often stuck up in your head, and reflect in your body to where you hunch over, clench fists, stomp around. Take action to reverse your mood by starting in your body, then triggering  more lightness in your emotions. Shift your body posture by straightening your back, rolling your shoulders back, lifting your head, and slapping a smile on your face. Do this while you’re taking your deep breaths and let your body convince your mind to perk up. Even better, stretch your arms up over head, wide and proud. Bonus, see if you can add some laughter. Fake it till your body is convinced you’re actually laughing to help break up the tension and lighten up.
  3. Affirmations – Focus on sayings to repeat in your head or say out loud that reinforce your dedication to an improved mood. Phrases like I let this go and free myself from negativity. I am wonderful. All is well in my world. I’m going to do an amazing job at (fill in the blank).

So here, my friends, is my response to the question: do I get upset? And here’s how you can shift over to pleasant mode when you need to switch on the performance charm.

 

 

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