Emotional Intelligence and Perception

“The great discovery of any generation is that human beings

can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds”

 

Albert Schweitzer

 

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Emotional Intelligence skills are closely linked to perception. How you perceive the world, an experience, a person, your job, what labels you use in your head to describe what you see determines your experience. These thoughts may appear random, but they are under your control, or you can learn to control and guide the direction of your thoughts. This is very powerful and will change your life if you practice observing and directing your thoughts.

 

Thoughts – perception – emotions – behaviour/action

 

Your emotions determine your behaviour. At work. In your relationships. With your hobbies. Your health.

 

I suggest one yardstick that you can use in life to bring about thriving, success and well-being:

 

Instead of labelling experiences and people as right or wrong

 

ask yourself:

 

Does this thought/action/interaction/experience support or hinder my wellbeing?

 

This is so much more important than determining that someone else is wrong, and then acting in a way that is detrimental to you, because you feel justified in having been wronged.

Certainly, in being present with yourself, you feel whatever emotion arises as a result of having been wronged, I’m certainly not suggesting to suppress that emotion, but don’t let this determine how you behave. YOUR wellbeing is at stake here.

Choose wisely.

 

Emotional intelligence encompasses many different skills. It is not one skill, but many different skills, and the way these different skills interact with one another. You may be very good at listening to others, but have some way to go in managing your own emotions. Or you may be skilled at observing your thoughts/emotions, but are not a good listener.

If you start to observe what thoughts precede your emotions, what you were thinking when you got angry for example, you will learn to steer your thoughts in another direction before the anger arises. Or if you observe your thoughts drifting whilst you are engaged in conversation and meant to be paying attention to what the other person is saying you can learn to focus on listening and to become more mindful to what the other person is saying.

Start today to strengthen that emotional intelligence muscle by asking yourself: does this thought/action improve or hinder my wellbeing (and by extension that of others). This is truly taking care of yourself. It’s like learning to ride the bike. Every day that you practice you become more accomplished, and it requires less and less of your conscious attention to learn to cycle. The good news is that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned. It is up to your motivation how far and how fast you improve.

Katrin Den Elzen

Recovery, Renewal & Reflection

Making sense of change

 

How to engage in Stress Relief

How often do you engage in stress relief?  How often do you experience stress? At work, at home, health-related, painful memories, old hurts, traffic-congestion, thoughtlessness, … the list goes on and on. If you are like most people, you experience stress on a regular – mostly daily – basis. I would like to emphasis again that stress puts a huge drain on your body, and of course your mood and happiness.

If you are committed to your own happiness and wellbeing, stress relief becomes imperative.

They type of stress relief that suits your personality and lifestyle most depends on different factors. But let’s take a look at the causes of stress. There are two types of stress factors:

  1. Stress that depends on internal factors, that is the way you view the stressful situation.
  2. Stress that is caused by external factors such as pollution, traffic jams, weather conditions

 

As I said, it is important to balance all stress with stress relief. Meditation is the most effective, fast and reliable way to relieve stress. When you meditate, you spend some time in a neutral state, focused on the present moment. Time out from distress and rushing. The benefits of meditation go way beyond stress relief. Meditation will increase your personal sense of power. Your ability to become clear about what it is you want out of your life. And it can give you the sense of personal power, inspiration and motivation that is required to bring your desires to fruition.

There are avoidable and unavoidable stress factors. Some stress factors are avoidable in that they are based on our perspective on things. If you change your perspective, your thoughts, you will change your emotional reaction.

Changing your perspective requires you to reflect and to contemplate. Changing your perspective is based on an act of will. It doesn’t happen by accident. When we repeat the same type of thoughts over a long period of time, we always cause the same type of emotional reaction. So this combination of thought – or thinking about a specific memory – combined with the emotional reaction(s) establishes neural pathways in your brain.

Now you need to make changes in the very make-up of your body if you want to stop experiencing the same emotions. You need to re-wire your brain, your neural pathways, so that the old emotional responses will no longer be triggered by the same thoughts. Whew.

Your thoughts bring about feelings in you. The thought ‘I was hard done by my dad. He always favoured my older brother and didn’t have the time of day for me’ will bring about feelings of anger, helplessness, resentment and perhaps apathy. Every time you think about your dad your resentment gets triggered. Until you change your perspective on what happened to you, the same emotional response will be triggered. It can’t be any other way. Your thoughts, repeated over and over, have created very well established neural pathways. They exist in your brain.

Feeling angry and helpless causes your stress response and as such is detrimental if triggered time and time again. If you don’t want to feel stressed about your childhood memories you need to rewire your brain, those old hurtful memories that are stored in your body.

Now, it’s all good and well to have the intention to let go. But those old memories really, really hurt. How then do you change your thoughts, your perspective?

One very effective method of reflection and contemplating an experience from different perspectives is writing. So-called free-flow writing is extremely effective. Writing is a bridge to our subconscious mind – or more precisely it is the metaphors and symbolic language that we use in writing that form this bridge.

We cannot reach our subconscious mind through conscious intent, but we can reach it through personal writing, especially free-flow writing. Personal writing is not about grammar or being polished, but simply about flowing onto the page. One word of caution though – it is very important to have a safe space when you undertake free-flow writing. Because none of us know what’s stored in our subconscious mind, we also don’t know what might come to light. You don’t want your son to walk in on you when you are in the middle of an emotional memory. However, let me stress that any short-term discomfort will be far outweighed by long-term stress relief and health improvements.

If you engage in personal writing in a safe environment – a workshop with a skilled facilitator is a good place as it is a safe, caring emphatic environment – you are able to re-wire your brain, those old painful memories that have very established neural pathways, in a way that no longer causes painful reactions.

It takes a lot of energy to suppress painful memories and emotions, and when you relieve the stress that’s caused by keeping things under wraps, you will not only feel better, but also free up loads of energy that is no longer tight up in stuffing unwelcome memories down the bottom of the barrel. Changing your perspective, your way of thinking, in a way that supports your happiness and inner peace, is a powerful way to relieve stress! It has the potential for long-term and permanent stress relief.

Katrin Den Elzen

Recovery, Renewal & Reflection

Making sense of change

 

Why Stress Relief is crucial to your Wellbeing

 

 

Stress has become a fact of life in our busy modern technology and consumption driven world. Unless you retreat to a remote mountaintop you will inevitably be exposed to stress. There are many different forms of stress: physical stress, chemical stress through pollution and hormonal imbalances and emotional stress. Even a physical stressor such as an accident will lead to psychological stress, such as for example if you are out of work as a result of the accident.

All these stressors have one thing in common: they put your body into the fight or flight mode. What distinguishes us humans from the animal kingdom is this: humans alone can trigger the fight or flight response simply by thought alone!!

I’ve just come back from a farm and watched a mustering of cattle. The cattle are aware straight away that the approaching 4 WDs mean trouble. Their eyes dart nervously from side to side, nostrils flare and their skin twitches all over their backs. And they run. A typical flight response. And that’s how it used to be with us humans as well:  cave man needed to react to approaching predators in order to survive.

Now that we’ve moved from the cave into brick houses, furry predators aren’t any longer the issue. But our internal self-talk is. Worry about the future, about bills, partners, bosses, the environment all trigger the fight or flight response. Human beings are the only beings capable of chronic stress. Animals react to a threat, and when the threat is over, the body returns its normal physiological state, which is a balanced state that is most supportive of wellbeing. The heart beat slows down to normal, the blood is no longer prioritised around the limbs and returns to the vital organs, digestion resumes etc.

In chronic stress, the body does not return to the state of homeostasis. [i] In the long term, this will lead to illness. The body cannot maintain prolonged stress levels without detrimental consequences.

What actually is stress? Stress is a reaction to the external world and is triggered by an older part of the brain, the mid-brain or limbic brain. The stress response was designed as an emergency response, not as a chronic state of being.

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, stress is the No 1 cause that creates disruption in the body. Dr. Dispenza has a degree in biochemistry and specialises in neuroscience and brain function. He states that 74 to 90 % of all people in the western world who attend a health clinic do so as a result of a stress related disease.

When we realise that we experience stress in our life, stress relief becomes our responsibility to ourselves. It is an indispensable component of self-care. There is no two ways about it: prolonged or recurring stress will cause you suffering and illness.

If we accept that our lives are filled with a certain amount of stress, the next step is to accept that stress relief is absolutely vital to our wellbeing. Stress relief requires input from you in some shape or form. Different stressors call for various methods of stress relief.

I will be writing about different forms of stress relief in the coming blog posts. However, here is a video by Dr. Joe Dispenza about the importance of changing your perspective, or – as he calls it – changing your mind: literally that is, neurologically speaking.  If you don’t change your thinking, the resultant emotional state will remain the same and so will your experience:

YouTube Preview Image

 

In summary then, stress relief is not an option but a necessity for your long-term wellbeing. What type of stress relief you choose is up to you. I urge you not to underestimate the importance of stress relief. What can you do today to alleviate your stress?

 



[i] Human homeostasis is derived from the Greek, homeo or “same”, and stasis or “stable” and means remaining stable or remaining the same.The human body manages a multitude of highly complex interactions to maintain balance or return systems to functioning within a normal range. These interactions within the body facilitate compensatory changes supportive of physical and psychological functioning. This process is essential to the survival of the person and to our species. The liver, the kidneys, and the brain (hypothalamus, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system) help maintain homeostasis. An inability to maintain homeostasis may lead to death or a disease, a condition known as homeostatic imbalance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_homeostasis

 

 

Katrin Den Elzen

Recovery, Renewal & Reflection

Making sense of change

 

Dare To Say Yes

Daring to say yes is very powerful on many different levels: psychologically, mentally, emotionally, and – few people are aware of this fact – neurologically.

Robert Hill is a psychologist who specialises in neurobiology. Robert is a member of an international research group as well as an international trainer. He is engaged in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology – IPBN. In one of his seminars on IPBN he highlights the power and the importance of saying yes.

According to Robert Hill, saying YES opens up an entire neurophysiological state of being that is very different from saying No:

Daring to say yes is like turning the light-switch on:  the current flows, paving the way for relaxation, good digestion, smooth functioning of the various body systems

*  Saying yes actives the beneficial part of the nervous system: the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS)  – its main job is relaxation and digestion, in other words: the antidote to stress

*  Saying yes actives our social engagement system

Our social engagement system is biologically hardwired – that means it is a fundamental, quintessential part of being human. We are biologically and neurologically meant to relate to others. More on that in later posts.

 

By contrast, saying no:

*  Activates the sympathetic nervous system. Its main job is to set off our fight or flight response, which has also been called the     acute stress response.

*  This stress response entails a whole range of negative effects on the human body such as physiological responses:

–       acceleration of the heart beat

–       Inhibition of stomach action to the point where digestion stops

–       Constriction of the blood supply to the major organs

–       Loss of hearing or peripheral vision (tunnel vision) to name but a few

and

        Emotional and mental responses to acute stress such as

–       aggression

–       anger

–       withdrawal

–       substance abuse and

–       addictions

Robert Hill points out that saying no actually sounds rigid, it indicates stopping and opposing. It actually has physical effects in the body of the listener. Take note next time someone says a vehement NO. Observe your reaction – you might find that your shoulders are hunched or your stomach tightened. This means emotional healing and wellbeing cannot take place when you are stressed.

The Mind Science Institute 

In prehistoric times, the fight or flight response served as an important strategy for survival. Nowadays, a wide range of triggers set off the fight or flight response with dire consequences for our physical and internal wellbeing. The fight or flight response was not designed for the stresses of modern times.

 

It is clear then that learning to say yes is an important life skill and state of mind.  

So what am I asking you to say yes to? Your wellbeing. Thriving in life. Emotional freedom. I’m suggesting that you might dare to say yes to YOU. I believe that it is crucial in life to be authentic. Society teaches us that selfishness is bad. And what is considered as ‘selfish’ ranges from not sharing lollies to refusing to act out of obligation. There is a large grey area regarding what is selfish and what is not.

I am, however,  talking about SELF-CARE. Because that is what saying yes to you, to a life filled with contentment and joy, is all about. It is caring for your self. And from this place of caring for and about yourself you also open the gateway for others to do the same: to care for themselves. Self-care feels good and does not harm others in any way. Classical ‘selfishness’ does not feel good.

And here we are right back at our emotions: your emotions will definitely be able to tell you unwaveringly if you are caring for the self: because it feels good! It gives you juice. You are inspired. Time flies by.

By contrast, being selfish might make you feel guilty and angry with yourself. It doesn’t foster self-esteem. Or if you acted out of mere obligation you’ll end up feeling bad for abandoning your self.

 

We have a lot of no’s in our world. We need more ‘yes’ in our lives and in our world.

What might you dare to say yes to?

Katrin Den Elzen

Recovery, Renewal & Reflection

Making sense of change