What are the mechanisms that keep our daily mood fluctuations within reasonable limits? In a recent theory of spontaneous mood management, Forgas, Johnson and Ciarrochi (1997) suggested that the cognitive mechanisms involved in affect infusion (producing mood congruence) and affect control (producing mood incongruence) typically function in temporal sequence as two components of a complementary, homeostatic mood management system. The theory implies that initially mood-congruent thoughts and associations should automatically become incongruent over time. Three experiments assessed this 'first congruent, then incongruent' hypothesis. Following mood induction, participants generated a number of trait adjectives (Exp. 1), completed words (Exp. 2) or produced self-descriptions (Exp. 3). Results confirmed the predicted temporal pattern: after negative mood induction, initially mood congruent associations spontaneously became positive over time. After positive mood induction, associations returned to neutral over time. Self-esteem had a significant positive influence on mood management efficacy, with faster recovery from bad moods by high self-esteem people. The implications of these results for recent affect-cognition theorizing, and for our understanding of mood disorders are discussed.