If COVID has taught us anything, it’s get used to NOT having any control over our life. It’s situations like these that really teach us what we’re made of. When the rug is pulled out from under you, are you one to let the discomfort and pain pull you under? Do you succumb to it and let it drown you?
Our reaction to adversity is what separates the “greats” from well….the rest of us. Reading about the “greats” has taught me that when adversity strikes, this is where they shine the most. This is where learn how to take advantage of the situation.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming the first President of South Africa to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. During his time in jail, he kept a scrap of paper in his cell that contained the words of a poem by William Ernest Henley, entitled “Invictus.” It ends with the famous lines,
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
You are the only person that is responsible for you. Your goals in life will only be obtained when you decide, TODAY IS THE DAY. I will make the changes needed to adapt to my ever changing word.
WHEN CHANGE COMES, CAN YOU ADAPT?
Professor Yuval Noah Harari, historian, philosopher, bestselling author, and is considered one of the world’s most influential public intellectuals today has said that the most important step we can take to prepare ourselves for the inevitable changes that life throws at us is to learn how to adapt to change.
Our world is changing fast and where we were once highly rewarded for specialization we will now only survive those changes if we are willing to change by being resilient and flexible. Long gone are the days to specialize in one vocation, one talent, and one skill. To learn Why Generalists Benefit in a Specialized World read this post.
In the future the hardest challenges we will face will be psychological. So many jobs in the future will change or even become obsolete because of automation.
Because of this, the greatest thing we can teach our kids is not to have a particular vocation or skill but to teach them resilience. Teach them how to adapt to change. How well we adapt to change has EVERYTHING to do with improving our emotional intelligence and mental balance.
Also known as emotional quotient or EQ, it is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. It’s having Social Awareness and empathy for others.
Emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success.
IT IS THE KEY.
Your IQ may open doors for you but your EQ will keep the doors open and continue to open bigger and better doors.
Emotional Intelligence was first introduced by Yale psychologist Peter Salovey, Ph.D. together with University of New Hampshire psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., in 1990 but then popularized by psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. 5 years later in his world-wide bestseller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
There is also a reason Daniel Khaneman, psychologist and economist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (shared with Vernon L. Smith) has also given Emotional Intelligence study, center stage. His empirical findings challenge the assumption of human rationality prevailing in modern economic theory. He is known as the unicorn of economics.
But Victor Frankl predates them all and is also referenced in Susan David’s work, who writes and speaks about her research in Emotional Agility. Frankl’s entire work is predicated upon the following findings published in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning in 1946. To Read more about how Viktor Frankl’s book changed EVERYTHING for me click here.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
WHAT IS THAT SPACE? And WHY DO WE NEED IT?
This “space” is a pause, it’s that split second before we react. Elongating that split second into a mere minute will make all the difference between whether you act or whether you re-act. Having that minute pause helps us to step outside of our heads and now say to ourselves “I am getting really mad right now” maybe this isn’t the best time to respond. It teaches us that we are separate from our thoughts. I can feel something but not BE it. I am not a mad person. I am feeling mad right now.
Why is it so important to understand our emotions? Our emotions are THE REASON we act and react. If you want to know why you continue to make bad choices, not act appropriately, or continue to react when “poked” then you need to understand what motivates your actions.
FEELINGS ARE DATA
Our emotions/feelings are natural responses and are extremely important to notice and understand. Emotions aren’t things you need to control or get rid of. Emotions are like data, they are cues that say to us, “something isn’t right, this isn’t comfortable.”
Being uncomfortable nags at us to get off our butts or out of our own heads and address the problem head on. To make change. Often these feelings can help us to see our shortcomings and blind-spots. This is great! I want information that says, “Hey Korie-check yourself- you need to do better here”. Emotionally intelligent people do the work needed to understand themselves so they can better themselves.
But the opposite is true too. Feeling uncomfortable sometimes doesn’t mean that something is wrong with ME. That’s why it’s ultra important to:
NOTICE the feeling and
ADDRESS the feeling.
Say to yourself. “I recognize that I am feeling worthless, not I am worthless. These feelings are a way to describe what you feel not WHO you are. We all feel mad, sad, and even worthless at times but if we can recognize WHY we feel them, we can then fix what motivates them.
If my superior at work continues to overlook the ideas I present in every meeting, that might make me feel incompetent or make me doubt my skill set. Instead of letting that feeling overtake me and define me, I need to recognize it and have a frank conversation with my superior.
What I learn in that conversation can be something as simple as my boss clarifying a few details about the objective. Having just a little more information allows me to bring more appropriate and tailored results to the project. Communicating helps us to have more information and pivot, to now do our job better.
We don’t have to let the “feeling” take over us and label us as a “bad employee” instead use that feeling as motivation to get back on track- to fix the problem and move on.
DON’T LABEL YOUR EMOTIONS
Instead, go further. Instead of “I’m stressed” – that’s why I’m in a bad mood. Think deeper about what feelings are creating this stress. Is stress just a broad stroke to describe a whole bunch of feelings? Am I stressed really because I’m scared, or I’m worried about letting someone down? What are these emotions?
Then ask why do I feel I have to do this perfectly or what’s wrong if this person isn’t impressed? Why do I need to impress them so much? If it’s your boss, ya you need to impress them but if it’s your mother-in-law, that’s probably something you can let go of.
When we have a more exact root cause of our emotions then we can better see how to alleviate them. What can we change to not keep repeating this same pattern or behavior?
FACT vs FICTION
Our emotions/feelings are the STORIES we give to an actual REAL, FACTUAL event. These stories color and change the facts. This is not healthy when we have negative emotions that keep us from taking positive, useful action.
My mother grew up in a home where they rarely invited guests over. They never entertained. Because my grandmother was so poor she was too embarrassed to have people see her home. This feeling and emotion was transferred to my mother, she had the same discomfort. Although not poor anymore my mother still felt this same anxiety passed down from her mother. In fact, she never was taught how to act in those sorts of social situations. Because these feelings were never changed and corrected, this same lack of skills and anxiety passed on down to me.
I had a hard time inviting friends over. It wasn’t comfortable to have people over to my house. I was never shown how to entertain friends and felt very uncomfortable having to be “on”. It wasn’t until I got married and saw my husband’s opposite relationship to entertaining where I was challenged to see my own relationship differently.
As I read more on how our minds work and how we can control our thoughts I finally learned that I was just perpetuating a story, not a real fact. I could simply change that story by addressing why I had those feelings. Those feelings weren’t even mine, they were passed to me. I did not HAVE to feel that way. I could CHOOSE.
Being able to step back from your emotions and recognize them for what they are, FEELINGS, not FACTS – they aren’t YOU, is a game-changer! It’s so empowering to know, “I can take actionable steps to “re-write” my OWN story”.
I now look forward to friends stopping in and planning parties. It’s one of my greatest joys to have a house full of friends. Even more important, my kids love having their friends over too. I am not passing my unhealthy insecurities onto them.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Now that we have learned the reality of our emotions and what motivates them we can now learn how to apply this new knowledge. How can I go out in the world and be more emotionally intelligent? How can I have more success in my relationships, with friends, in my family, and in my career?
1. BE SOCIALLY AWARE
Emotional intelligence begins with what is called self and social awareness. It’s the ability to recognize emotions and their impact in both yourself and others.
We just learned how we are impacted by our emotions and how we can separate ourselves from them but that also means we need to recognize them in the people around us. When we realize that people often react off of their emotions we can put these complicated interactions into perspective. We can give people the benefit of the doubt.
That awareness begins with reflection. If we are asking ourselves questions like “Why am I triggered by this, why am I feeling this emotion?” It can greatly help us to understand the people around us. Instead of being instantly offended, take that pause before reacting or judging and ask a few questions. “What might they be feeling right now? Maybe they are having a tough day, maybe they just got dumped or lost their job”. Don’t only ask that in your head but go further and actually ask the person. “I noticed you seem down, can I help?”
2. ALWAYS PAUSE
Feel your emotions but don’t let them control you. Squeeze your finger, stomp your foot, take a deep breath, by all means, walk out of the room if you have to. DO whatever it is that will allow you that one minute of space to “rewrite” your story. Do not react and do not regret what you’re about to blurt out.
Pausing gives you power and gives you the control over what seems like “uncontrollable reactions”.
3. MAKE INTENTIONAL GOALS
Because we have done the work to understand our emotions and what motivates them, we can now set up a plan to deal with them when they arise.
I am often triggered when I am not show respect and appreciation. So naturally my kids trigger me daily…ugh!
My son and I would often end up in a shouting match over whether or not he thought the chore I gave him was fair. I could ask him to do the dishes and because he doesn’t want to do them, would shout “why don’t YOU ever do the dishes.” I don’t need overt appreciation for everything I do, but the fact that my son didn’t have the common sense that his father and I do more chores before he wakes up than he does in a week, frustrates me to no end and gets my temperature rising FAST. Because I don’t see his maturity increasing any time soon I had to find a new way to interpret these emotions.
I made a new goal to break the bad habit loop. The next time this situation arises instead of engaging, I will do something different. I will say, “I am sorry you see things so differently than I do, please get your job done.” Then I walk out of the room. To learn how to FINALLY achieve your goals TODAY click here
I no longer have to get mad at his comment because I know it’s not true and I don’t have to “take the bait”.
Also, I have found that because he is still learning to navigate and control his emotions, he learns by what I mirror. By acting appropriately, he is seeing and learning a better way to deal with frustration and disappointment.
On multiple occasions in the last few months, after my son has finished his job and “cooled off” he’ll come find me and apologize for his behavior. Not much makes me feel better than, “Mom, I’m sorry I said that to you.” while giving me a big hug.
4. BE SLOW TO TAKE OFFENSE
Nobody enjoys negative feedback. But you know that criticism is a chance to learn, even if it’s not delivered in the best way. And even when it’s unfounded, it gives you a window into how others think.
When you receive negative feedback, you keep your emotions in check and ask yourself: How can this make me better?
5. BE REAL
Being real means speaking your truth. It means saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and sticking to your values and principles above all else.
By no means do we intend to do harm to others with our frankness but when we aren’t direct it’s just super confusing. It’s very frustrating going back and forth with someone trying to figure out what they prefer and they don’t say because they’re trying to guess what I prefer. I’d rather have someone tell me directly their preferences or concerns. When we’re receptive to others opinions even if it’s constructive criticism people will feel comfortable to be honest with us. Wouldn’t you prefer to be approachable enough that people can feel comfortable to be direct with you? I prefer that over it’s opposite – turning around and airing their “grievances” or gossip to another. Not everyone will appreciate your sharing your thoughts and feelings. But the ones who matter will.
I can’t say it enough, it’s the highest form of respect and it’s the greatest gift you can give another. To feel heard and that your opinion matters is what most people seek and rarely find. As far as emotional intelligence goes, honing this skill screams, “I am emotionally intelligent”. Being socially aware that you are not the only person in the room and are humble enough to know you can always learn something new shows you have self-control and maturity, all further signs of emotional intelligence.
7. BE GRATEFUL
All humans crave acknowledgement and appreciation. When you commend others, you satisfy that craving and build trust in the process.
This all begins when you focus on the good in others. Then, by sharing specifically what you appreciate, you inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
8. DON’T FOCUS ON BEING RIGHT
It takes strength and courage to be able to say ”I’m sorry”. But doing so demonstrates humility, a quality that will naturally draw others to you.
Emotional intelligence helps you realize that apologizing doesn’t always mean you’re wrong. It does mean valuing your relationship more than your ego.
9. BE RELIABLE
Nothing shows a lack of respect more for others when you don’t keep your word and your appointments. It’s a simple way for you to develop a strong reputation for reliability and trustworthiness and it goes a long way.
Being reliable in this small way will help for people to trust in bigger situations. It’s a great way to build insurance for the future. Think of trying to negotiate with another company in your career or something as simple as needing to borrow a tool from a neighbor. If you’ve proven yourself in all your past encounters you’ll be rewarded with trust in the future.
10. HELP OTHERS
One of the greatest ways to positively impact the emotions of others is to help them.
Most people don’t really care where you graduated from, or even about your previous accomplishments. But what about the hours you’re willing to take out of your schedule to listen or help out? Your readiness to get down in the trenches and work alongside them? When you help others it makes them feel that you care for them. That feeling is unbeatable. They will never forget how you were there for them in their time of need. You’ll also find it’s the best way to lift your own spirits and to feel valuable. Whenever I’m feeling down in the dumps, I take a break from my own and go help someone else with theirs. It’s natural Prozac!
Actions like these build trust and inspire others to follow your lead when it counts. Maya Angelou hit the nail on the head when she said,
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
11. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Knowing when to say “No”, shows you know how to handle uncomfortable situations and it ‘s an important way to show others you respect yourself.
“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others on how you demand to be treated. People learn how to treat you based on what you accept from them.”
Setting boundaries is a way to stop bad feelings in their tracks. It’s a lot easier to say “no” to a solicitor on the phone but what about a family member? A lot of us can relate to having a complicated relationship with a mother-in-law or a co-worker. It’s hard to have uncomfortable conversations with people who will continually be in your life, that you might have to see daily. But the sooner you are able to have that frank convo and say, “I care too much about our relationship to have these ill feelings fester. (and) I feel it will help our relationship if I tell you about some things that bother me.”, the sooner you are on the road to a better less complicated relationship.
12. PICK YOUR BATTLES
As we all know we can’t control every aspect of our lives. Having children shows me this daily. If we tried to fight every battle and tried to bend every aspect of our lives to our will, we’d be losing daily.
Knowing when to let things go, when to just shut our mouth, is one of the greatest ways we can show EQ. It’s one of the hardest things I have to work on daily. As a mother, I am learning daily that I can guide my kids, and provide opportunities for them to learn but I can’t make them “drink the water”.
Because I’m such a “fixer” it’s hard for me to sit back and just let things run their course. I’ve had to learn the hard way (a few people close to me have shared) that they don’t want me to “fix” their problem, they just want me to listen, to be a soft place to land. I’ve really had to work on this. Not everything needs to be worked out, not everything needs to be a battle. Sometimes the battle is won by letting it pass. It’s a great sign of EQ to show that the relationship is more important than proving the person wrong and you right.
Take the time to reevaluate your blind spots. Get better at the list of 12 ways we can be more Emotionally Intelligent. Your future depends on it. Practice them daily with your family. Your children will learn this much-needed skill by watching you in action. Education is not just learning how to excel in school. More importantly, it’s how do we excel at life in our ever-changing world?
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