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More about Mood Mapping

Posted Dec 04 2009 7:57pm

A Q&A with Dr Liz Miller, author of Mood Mapping

What is Mood Mapping?

Rather than using words, Mood Mapping is a way represents your mood visually. You mark your mood on a map or chart, in a way that describes how you feel, without using words. You can compare your mood at different times of the day and between one day and the next. It is new, and it is revolutionary. People who use it, start to see their moods differently. They realize that they are more than their mood, and their mood describes how they feel. Once you understand how your mood works, you never go back!

We have a mood, all the time, every day. Most of the time, we are not aware of how we feel because we feel all right. We notice our mood, when, for example we are in “the wrong mood” to do something. We might need to concentrate to finish a report and we are waiting to find out whether we have a job offer following an interview. Waiting for the news may make us either too anxious or too excited to work. Mood Mapping helps you understand how you feel and work out what you need to do, to calm down and get in the right mood to work. Moods have an enormous influence on how we think, how we feel and how we behave. Nonetheless, a mood is just a mood, and with the right strategies, it is almost always possible to improve your mood.

In this book, I am interested in helping people understand their moods better and to manage them more easily.

Why did you write Mood Mapping?

As a doctor, 40% of consultations are to a greater or lesser extent based around mental health and psychological problems. These problems are just as severe as physical health problems, and they rarely need medication or drug treatment. Mood Mapping helps people understand why they feel the way they do, and gives people strategies to manage their feelings and moods.

All too easily doctors resort to prescribing antidepressants or drugs for anxiety when people can, with the right approach and encouragement, deal with their problems without medication. Like physical health, mental health depends on living in safe and healthy surroundings, on a healthy diet and exercise, on good supportive relationships, on having the right strategies to cope with difficulties and having the chance to “be yourself!”

I wrote Mood Mapping to summarise the advice I give my patients and to show them the simple technique of Mood Mapping that helps people work out how they feel, and record it from day-to-day. If people feel happy and healthy, they rarely need to see the doctor!

In what way will Mood Mapping help someone?

The most important part of dealing with a problem, any problem is accepting and understanding the problem. In my own case, with my own history of bipolar disorder, it took me almost ten years to accept that I had a problem. I thought it was normal to be depressed. I thought everyone was depressed! It is easy to think with mental health problems, that you are the only one, or that everyone thinks the way you do. We need some an objective measure that explains what it is reasonable to expect and what you can do about it. There is no right or wrong way to live, but some ways are healthier and more enjoyable than others.

This is not a typical self-help book that points to the six or seven keys to self-improvement. Instead it is a book that helps you see where you are in the world, and gives you some suggestions to help you feel better. Everyone’s Mood Map is individual to them, just as the solutions you find to your problems are individual to you. One size does not fit all!

How does this book compare to other books about Mood?

Mood Mapping is the first book to concentrate on Mood as the basis of “how you feel”. Almost all other books about Mood, describe mood largely as the result of how you think. Mood Mapping sees mood as the underlying trait and “how you think” depends on your mood. If you are anxious, your thinking will be more negative than if you are feeling calm and peaceful. Undoubtedly, you can change your mood by changing the way you think but your mood comes first. There are five main keys to your mood, which is the most important for you depends on you. Some people put relationships first other people put the need to be creative and to express themselves. Mood Mapping describes the five main areas that affect mood, Surroundings; Physical Health; Relationships; What you know and how you think; and Nature and self-expression; yet each one of us individually, would put them in a different order!

Mood Mapping looks at where our moods come from, and what we can do about them and how we can improve our own mental health and the mental health of the people around us.

You have a chapter on Personality, how does Personality fit in with mood?

The commonest mistake we make in psychological terms is to confuse mood and personality. What people see of a person, their Persona, is a combination of their mood and their personality type, but mood is not personality. Personality describes the approach you take, to other people, to yourself, how you see the world and how you tackle problems. Mood describes how you feel. All too often personality questionnaires contain “mood questions” such as “Are you normally a happy person?” This is the same question as “Are you normally in a good mood?” This relates to your mood and attitude, rather than your personality. Your personality describes your approach, do you internalize problems, or like to talk about them. Do you get on with doing something about what is happening or do you like to know what it happening before you step in? It helps first to understand your moods and then you can see what is mood and what personality is. Your “Persona” is that individual combination of mood and personality that other people notice about you, and determines how you see the world.

What do you want people to take away from Mood Mapping?

Mood Mapping is the first book to look at how you can manage your moods, as opposed to managing your thinking. Moods affect thinking, and thinking affects mood, yet moods also depend on your surroundings – it is difficult, but not impossible to be miserable on a yacht in the Caribbean. Your physical health affects how you feel, a bout of flu takes the edge of your performance. The strategies we use to tackle problems, and this is the area where other books and psychologists concentrate and finally we have to have the freedom to be ourselves.

The message is Mood Mapping helps manage the way you feel. You affect the way you feel, by how you think about problems, through your surroundings, your physical health, your relationships and making sure you express the real the you, not the person that other people would like you to be. Mood Mapping brings together those five major keys to mood. Mood depends on many areas, and it is rarely a single problem. You have to do what you can, where you can, to help yourself in your personal circumstances! Mood Mapping helps you become more aware and more in control of the different areas of your life.

Copyright (c) Dr. Liz Miller
Mood Mapping
Dr Liz Miller
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