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Emotional intelligence

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  • 1. Emotional Intelligence – Are You A Genius? By Chelse Benham “Managing our emotions increases intuition and clarity. It helps us self-regulate our brain chemicals and internal hormones. It gives us natural highs, the real fountain of youth we've been searching for. It enables us to drink from elixirs locked within our cells, just waiting for us to discover them.” - Doc Childre, author and founder of the Institute of HeartMath Daniel Goldman, chief executive officer of Emotional Intelligence Services in Massachusetts and a former Harvard educator, coined the phrase Emotional Intelligence, abbreviated EI or EQ as a takeoff of IQ or Intelligence Quotient. Unlike IQ, EI can be learned and improved upon and it is all about controlling emotions so they don’t control you. The most effective skill someone can take to improve control over their emotions is to practice self-observation - the ability to stand back and observe your own mental and emotional functioning. Identifying the “automatic thoughts,” or those thoughts mired in judgment and negativity, that act as precursors to emotional responses is key. Cognitive therapy is based on the belief that by changing the way you think, you can change the way you feel and act. “Cognitive Restructuring” is perspective/interpretative based analysis. “Cognitive restructuring is a well-researched method for treating emotional distress and shows good efficacy in psychotherapy,” said Dr. Kristin Croyle, assistant professor in the Psychology and Anthropology Department at The University of Texas-Pan American. “It can also be learned by motivated people as a self-help technique. David Burns, MD, for example has some popular books that teach cognitive techniques including “The Feeling Good Handbook.” In his extremely informative and in-depth article “How to Achieve Emotional Control” found at www.buildfreedom.com, author Mark Lindsay writes, “It is not surprising then, that cognitive therapists argue that most of our emotions are a result of the interpretations we make of the events around us. This is quite different from the way we normally think about our emotional states. Usually, we regard our emotional responses as being directly caused by outside events and situations. Rather it is our interpretation of the event which triggers the emotional response.” The following formula illustrates this premise. EVENT -> INTERPRETATION-> EMOTION-> ACTION
  • 2. “Emotions are clearly constructed by our perceptions and our interpretations, although some events are powerful enough to elicit very similar interpretations and emotional responses from many people (such as traumas),” Croyle said. People often don’t realize the emotion they assign to people and events as illustrated in everyday terminology. The terminology reinforces the idea that things act upon and cause our emotional response. “He made me so mad.” “She really brings me down.” Both are examples of displacing ownership or control and further validate our indulgence to express our emotions instead of controlling them. Robert Fritz, author of “The Path of Least Resistance,” states that most people believe that outside circumstances dictate their lives and he calls this the “reactive-responsive orientation.” This is the state of being where external circumstances hold power over you and you are simply reacting to these encounters. Goleman describes five major components of EI: 1) Knowing one's emotions. Self-awareness - recognizing a feeling as it happens - is the keystone of emotional intelligence. 2) Managing emotions. Handling feelings so they are appropriate is an ability that builds on self-awareness. 3) Motivating oneself. Marshalling emotions in the service of a goal is essential for paying attention, for self-motivation and mastery, and for creativity. Emotional self-control - delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness - underlies accomplishment of every sort. 4) Recognizing emotions in others. Empathy, another ability that builds on emotional self-awareness, is the fundamental "people skill." People who are empathic are more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want. 5) Handling relationships. The art of relationships is, in large part, a skill in managing emotions in others. There are some techniques that Lindsay offers to help manage emotions: • Monitor your automatic thoughts. Start practicing the skill of recalling the images and ideas which floated through your stream of consciousness during the last few moments. To do this, sit quietly and allow your mind to wander. After a minute or so, ask yourself what you are currently thinking about. Once you've identified that, ask yourself what led you to start thinking about what you were thinking about. Continue tracing your thought stream back as far as you can. Usually, there is some connecting factor between each set of thoughts. • Become aware of “identification” and learn to break free from it. When we identify ourselves with something - no matter what it is - we are unable to step back and view it objectively. Now, when we identify
  • 3. with our emotions, it is very difficult to control them; when we are immersed in our emotions, we are controlled by them. The secret of emotional control is to disengage yourself from your emotions, to pull back and cease identifying with your feelings and moods. • Observe yourself as if you were another person. Self-observation means stepping back and objectively looking at a situation that you are involved in from a disengaged perspective. • Use the effective technique of “Freeze Framing” to gain emotional control. We get held up in traffic and we automatically experience frustration. What is wrong with all of this is that we mechanically and unthinkingly indulge in our emotional responses. And our emotional "indulgences" - and all emotional responses amount to self-indulgence - color our perceptions and influence our choices and actions. There are five steps to “freeze framing” and they are: 1) Recognize your stressful feelings and make the decision to freeze-frame (call a time-out). 2) Shift your focus away from your racing thoughts and emotions. Focus your attention instead on the area around your heart and for about 10 seconds or so, pretend you are breathing through your heart. 3) Think about a fun time in your life, a time in which you felt positive. Try to re-experience that moment in your mind. (Note: freeze-framing can be much more effective if you decide beforehand what experience to focus on.) 4) Ask your heart for a more efficient and effective response to the situation you are freeze-framing. The answer will come from your intuition or source of common sense. 5) Open yourself up and listen to the answer your heart gives you. • Avoid “emotional contagion.” We can become "infected" by the emotions and moods of others. You can catch both negative and positive emotions alike, such as euphoria, elation, sadness, depression, anger, grief, etc. Avoid negative people and situations. • Practice “learned optimism.” Pessimism is essentially a bad habit or bad programming that was developed from being exposed to poor examples from parents, teachers or others who provided major influences during the formative years of our lives. Many of the negative command phrases that create the ill effects on our lives today were exactly the ones we heard verbalized by the influential people in our past. The manner in which you explain (self talk) how and why any unpleasant situation came about determines whether you are operating from the vantage point of helplessness or power and optimism.
  • 4. Mastery over you emotions can lead to a sense of personal freedom. It gives you the upper hand in all areas of life and produces enough personal power to move you up the chain of command. People in control of their emotions are sought after for advice and put in leadership positions. Intellect prowess is no longer the benchmark for success. EI has since taken the lead as the more desirable characteristic in business today. How fortunate is the person who has both! "Whatever the reasons, we do not pursue emotional development with the same intensity with which we pursue physical and intellectual development. This is all the more unfortunate because full emotional development offers the greatest degree of leverage in attaining our full potential.” - Unknown