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How to Gain Emotional Intelligence

How to Gain Emotional Intelligence

How to Gain Emotional Intelligence

In order to manage emotions, the first thing to do is to understand what emotions are and where they come from.

Emotions are an automatic response, NOT to a set of facts, but rather to the (subconscious) evaluative meanings and associations that have been attached to that set of facts, by the observer. For example:

  1. If a person associates "crashing and burning" to aeroplanes, then that person would be afraid of flying.
  2. If a person associates "freedom and fun" to aeroplanes, then that person would feel good about flying.

Whenever we change the evaluative meanings and associations that we link to an event, then we also change our emotional responses to it.

Evaluative Meanings and Associations.

Often the evaluative meaning and associations are in the form of Universal Laws and Metaphorical images.

  • Universal laws are unconditional statements of belief such as: "Everything happens for a reason."
  • Metaphorical images: are mental pictures that we use to understand complex situations. "Every gym workout is another brick in the wall, another step up the ladder".

The above examples are positive in nature.

But it is common for people to hold negative universal beliefs and negative metaphorical imagery in their minds, and to not even be aware of it.

For example, last week, after an argument with a close friend, I heard a person say:

  • "You can't trust anyone. Not even your friends!" (a negative Universal law).
  • "What he said to me, felt like a real punch in the guts" (a negative Metaphorical Image).

Can you see how disempowering these words and images are? Such thoughts and images would cause the mind to create a host of negative emotions, which would affect a person's peace of mind.

Whenever people allow these kinds of ideas and images into their minds, they immediately take root, like weeds, which then multiply and continue to produce more of the same.

Grow Flowers Not Weeds.

Weeds originate from weed seeds. If you chop the head off a thought-weed, it immediately grows back another head.

It cannot be destroyed by ignoring it. It cannot be destroyed by chopping away at its leaves.

You have to dig out the root and replace it with the seed of a flower.

The flower seed is a new universal law or metaphorical image, which would then be used to re-evaluate the original set of facts.

You can't get rid of negative emotions with will-power.

Many people who feel negative about a past event, often try to deal with their feelings by suppressing or evading them.

They say to themselves: "I shouldn't feel this way and I don't want to feel this way. Therefore, I will suppress my negative feelings and I will distract myself with alcohol, TV, food or whatever".

They try to bury or repress their feelings, by denying them.

But suppression of negative emotions is ultimately NOT possible, and it is a mistake even to try.

Why? Because if a person tries to cut themselves off from their own feelings, if they try to become insensitive even to their own emotions, then they do not learn to understand themselves. They strive NOT to associate themselves with their own emotions, which is the opposite of emotional intelligence.

Disassociation leads to poor mental health.

We need to gain emotional intelligence, not lose it!

In our particular current case, we might reframe the situation by saying:

My friends are operating their lives according to a mental "operating system". They are running on unconscious mental programmes that they have picked up, uncritically from politicians, Facebook, YouTube and the media. Consequently, they are evaluating things in a way that disempowers both themselves and me.

I will "cut them some slack", since everyone is doing the best they can with the programming they have.

I will strive to understand them even if I don't agree with them.

I will feel empathy and compassion for them. BUT I will not let their words upset me, because I will always remain:

  1. Clear (regarding my identification of the facts).
  2. Rational (in regard to my logical evaluation of all the available evidence).
  3. Positive (with regard to my feeling strong, focused, self-confident and optimistic).

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood." Marie Curie

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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