A few weekends ago I ran a program for leaders called Emotional Intelligence. I ran this program because I believe that emotional intelligence is at the centre of what we want to achieve in personal development.
To exercise emotional intelligence I must have an ability to identify my emotions as they are happening, understand why they are happening and then either support the positive, healthy emotions or manage the painful, unhealthy emotions. In this article I want to discuss how to manage your emotions
Manage Your Emotions
Handling feelings so they are appropriate is an ability that builds self-awareness. People who are poor in this ability are constantly battling feelings, while those who excel at it can bounce back far more quickly from life’s setbacks and upsets.
Stimulus to Response Model
Emotional intelligence takes place when I focus on my inward response rather than on my outward circumstances. The only real control I have is in how I choose to respond to those moments when I am triggered by something that is said or done by others.
Triggers happen in my life when something happens or someone does something that causes me emotional discomfort. Painful emotions serve as my internal clue that my shadow beliefs have been triggered. The most common shadow belief is, I’m not good enough, so; in the moment of being triggered I believe that my personal value is being questioned or measured. Most often, I am the one questioning or measuring my value.
A powerful example of this kind of triggering happened to me just over a year ago. I was meeting with a group of people who had previously supported Inside Out by sending individuals within their community to the Connections Program. As I was meeting with them, someone questioned my intention for running these programs. They were convinced that I was more concerned about running a business and making money than helping people. In that moment, I felt like my integrity as a leader and as a person was being questioned. Emotionally, it felt like a punch to my solar plexus. Everything in me wanted to respond in anger and self defense. This really is the moment of truth as it pertains to emotional intelligence.
Once I am feeling emotional discomfort, I have a choice to make about how I am going to respond to that discomfort. There is a space between the stimulus (trigger) and my response where I have the freedom to choose what my response will be.
An unhealthy response will be an attempt to lessen my emotional discomfort by shutting down, controlling my external environment or medicating my pain. None of these responses address the shadow beliefs that are driving the discomfort.
A healthy response will happen when I acknowledge that my shadow belief is being triggered and my discomfort is much more about me than it is about what has happened or what has been said. I have to embrace the reality of my beliefs and emotions and take responsibility for them. My beliefs and emotions are mine and I have to embrace them as such. One of the phrases that I often defer to when I am triggered is, speak your truth in love. If someone says something that triggers me, it is important that I speak my truth. I have to be honest with myself and the person that has triggered me; however, I need to deliver my truth with love and respect.
When I speak my truth it builds my self-respect and sense of self worth. In that way my shadow belief about not being good enough is diminished.
Steps to a Healthy Response
Here is the process that I went through as I was triggered by the community member that questioned my intention.
- Feel the feelings: It is important that I acknowledge what I am feeling. I do not want to act out of painful emotion as it will just make things worse; however, the feelings are real and I need to be ok just to feel them. Acknowledging that painful emotion will direct me to step two.
- Identify the feelings: I want to be clear about what emotion I am feeling. This is where it is so important that I have an emotional vocabulary. In this moment I feel frustrated, disrespected, irritated and I am quickly getting
- Identify the Shadow Belief: I know that my emotions are being driven by my Shadow beliefs. My core belief is that I do not have value, so, I am aware that feeling any uncomfortable, painful emotion is because I feel questioned or measured in my value.
- Ownership: These are my thoughts, beliefs, feelings and ultimately my actions, so, I want to own them as my own. I do not want to focus on what someone else is doing, I want to focus on what I am thinking and feeling.
- Bridge: In this moment I need to draw on a behavioral bridge to help me to respond in a healthy way. A couple of bridges that immediately come to mind are to trust myself, be patient with those around me and accept that this issue is more a reflection of the person questioning me than my intention or motivation.
- Action Plan: My action plan in that moment was not to address the accusation but to redirect my attention to one of my purposes for being in the meeting. And, that was to bring a gift to this community and its leader. In this way I utilized a couple of other behavioral bridges. I focused on my gratitude for the relationship we had and on being In this way I felt I was drawing on my sacred self rather than giving into my shadow self.
I encourage you to utilize this model the next time you get triggered and continue on your journey to develop emotional intelligence.