Who influences our mood?
|Author: amparo escribano||Published: 19th August 2008 17:00|
We are influenced by other people's moods, some of us more than others. Knowing how you respond will help put you in charge of your emotions.
Senders and Sensitisers
We all know how contagious other people's moods can be whether it's a depressing friend, stress-filled boss or the ever-cheerful assistant in the local shop. Even people we don't know can influence our moods - a few minutes with a grumpy worker in the bank can leave us feeling agitated all day, whilst the cheerful girl on the checkout can leave you feeling chirpy long after you have put your shopping away.
We all pick up and pass on moods but research has shown that we do this on different levels. Some people who are very susceptible to the emotions of others are called ‘sensitisers' and people who pass their moods onto those around them are called ‘senders.'
Whichever type you are, it can affect your relationships, friendships, how you relate to others and how you regulate your own moods. Senders are often seen as charming people who can influence those around them. Sensitisers can find themselves controlled by other people's emotions and unable to control their mood swings.
Research has shown that sensitisers are often introverts; they take their energy from within and can be overwhelmed by more forceful personalities. These types of people are overly empathetic; they are extremely moved by someone else's suffering and cry easily. However, they can internalise their emotions; they are like sponges, as they soak up all the emotions of a situation until they feel totally over whelmed. In fact, people around sensitisers may not realise the powerful effect that they are having on them.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, senders are usually extrovert personalities and they have the ability to transmit their moods through their facial expression, tone of voice and gestures. Whilst they can be exciting to be around, they can also pass on negative emotions such as anger, fear, fatigue, anxiety and sadness.
Emotions don't always need to be obvious to have a powerful impact; just a quick frown or dismissive look can have just as much impact. Senders bring others into their atmosphere; when they are happy, their laugh is infectious but when they are fed up they bring everyone else down with them.
Senders don't always know the impact they are having on people around them because they are focused more on their own emotions rather than the feelings of others.
Psychologists have also identified a third mood personality; people who are able to ignore the emotions of others completely, they call them Repressors. In some people this behaviour displays a lack of concern or an inability to understand the feelings of others but some people shut themselves down, as they are afraid they may care too much. It could be looked on as a form of self-protection.
Some mood personalities are likely to be part of your character eg. sensitisers, from a young age, are very often caring people and senders charming but research suggests that we tend to learn this behaviour to adapt to our early experiences. For example, someone who grew up around an alcoholic parent may well have learnt to keep their moods to themselves in case they made their parent angry and this behaviour carries on into their adult life.
It is possible we can work towards understanding and balancing our natural emotional responses but it is important to pay attention to the types of people we mix with. The more you like someone and spend time with them it is very likely that you will ‘pick up' their emotions. This is why so many partners of people with depression are likely to pick up their depressive mood.
If you are a sensitiser, try to protect yourself from highly charged situations or people who are extreme senders. It can also be helpful to analyse your reaction to their words rather than react on an emotional level. This means your attention will be diverted and you are less likely to pick up on the mood of the person speaking. If you feel you are a sender and your negative mood is affecting others, remove yourself from the situation.
Asking yourself which mood personality you are can be very revealing and is often the first step to a better understanding of the way you relate to others.
The Mood Personalities
Sensitisers - empathetic and sensitive, prone to picking up the mood of others
Good in - caring professions, performance roles, volunteer counselling and managing small teams
Avoid - large emotional crowds e.g. political demonstrations, football matches or volatile, unpredictable situations
Senders - outgoing and charismatic, tend to transmit their emotions to others
Good in - politics, advertising, teaching, fundraising for a charity or with the prison/ police service
Avoid - situations where you may be tempted to dominate a group too much e.g. in a support group meeting or offloading your emotions onto highly empathic people
Repressors - tend to shut themselves off from their emotions and those of others
Good in - legal and medical professions, working in highly charged areas such as investment banking or dealing with customer complaints
Avoid - giving speeches, making presentations or situations where you need to display empathy to sensitive people e.g. counselling or teaching.
As with most things in life it is about balance. Most of us will have some aspects of each of these mood personalities in our character, it is when one mood tends to dominate and cause problems that you need to redress the balance.