Those of you who know me will probably know that I’m really interested in mood and its relevance to coaching. I think it’s mostly unexplored territory but also fundamental to understanding and working with people. So I’d like to write a series of blogs on mood, laying out where I’ve got to in my thinking and practice about it, and I’d really like to hear from you about what you’re making of what I’m saying, how it links to your practice and to other approaches you are familiar with.
What is mood? I take it to be that background feeling that is often hard to notice, often hard to name, but sets the tone and provides the emotional context for whatever I am doing. It’s like an atmosphere that is ever-present. Indeed we often talk about the ‘atmosphere’ of a place – of a team or organisation. By ‘atmosphere’ I think we are talking about mood. Emotion and mood both refer to feelings, the difference being that emotion usually has a link to an identifiable source – I am angry about how he spoke to me. Mood does not seem so clearly linked to a specific ‘about’; there is often no clear reference point for it. Furthermore, it is often more difficult to find a name for a mood as it seems less definite, less tangible. With some reflection I might find words like pensive, expectant, rebellious or determined catch the mood. On other occasions I simply struggle to get hold of the word to articulate that background ‘something’ which I feel is present in an elusive way.
Though sometimes elusive, or so background that we hardly notice it, my first proposition is that mood is always present, setting the tone for our engagement with we are doing. It is part of being human that all we do is always already ‘mooded’; there is always a background feeling tone. In subsequent blogs I’m going to propose that moods configure what we are aware of in ourselves and in the world and also are form of ‘knowing’, again about ourselves and the world, that is far deeper than is available to conscious rational thinking.
What’s my mood writing this? Checking-in with myself I find a background sense of excitement-anxiety which, upon reflection, I understand as rooted in my deep interest in mood, my desire to share the ideas with you, and concern about what you’ll make of them. What about you? What is your mood as you read this? Check-in with yourself as a way of testing my proposition that we are always ‘mooded’? What mood to you find in the background? Can you find a word that names it? And upon further reflection, what does the mood say about your engagement with reading this blog (interested; bored; frustrated; excited; sceptical ……)?
In the next blog I’ll pick up the theme that mood has a deeper understanding than that available to conscious thought.
The source of these ideas on mood is the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. If you want to read what he wrote the reference is his book ‘Being and Time’, pages 172 – 188 (Blackwell Publishing 1962). I think these pages are extraordinary as in them he directly challenges a way of understanding that is so taken for granted in our culture. At the same time it is not an easy read (quite an understatement!) as it is couched in obscure philosophical ‘jargon’ but if you want to go to the source then this series of blogs may help make sense of it
Coach, Psychotherapist and Supervisior