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

 

55

 

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 Achieve Stress Relief

 

 

 

I’ve talked in the previous posts about the vital importance of engaging in stress relief. According to Joe Dispenza, most people spend most of their time in what he calls survival mode. That is, we are reactive to our environment and we experience stress with adrenalin and cortisol pumping through our veins. This is a state of being that is detrimental to wellbeing and good health. Most significantly, in this state cell renewal and body maintenance do not take place – and these are essential to vibrant health and longevity.

The desirable state of being, the one that is supportive of good health and thriving in life, is what Joe calls the creative state. This state is optimal for cell renewal and wellbeing. In this state we are not reactive, that is to say we don’t simply plot along until some external factor such as a partner, teenager, colleague, traffic jam or missed appointment causes us to react with a negative emotion and stress response. We are in a creative state, we purposefully engage our attention (better still after having planned and/or organised our project – as well as our long-term goals – in our minds beforehand.

A creative state itself does not require planning. For example if you are engrossed in and focused on the chosen task – may it be writing, painting, singing, organising a work project – your attention is fully on the task. A tell-tale sign when you are in a creative state is when time seems to disappear. You might have been engaged in something for a couple of hours and it seems like 15 minutes. Even external factors such as a noisy truck outside your window or a cold air-conditioner are not registered by your brain. In other words, your brain – more specifically your highly evolved frontal lobe – has the power to tune out all unrelated external stimuli that have nothing to do with the task at hand. That’s very cool, isn’t it. You feel engaged, joyful, content, alive. You are literally outside of time and space when you are 100 % focused.

Now, focused attention is a skill that we can learn. Just like playing tennis or driving a car. Meditation is a way of training the mind and the body to concentrate on one thought alone. Meditation is the antidote to stress like antivenom is to snake venom. Science has now come on board and confirmed what eastern mystics have known for eons: meditation quiets the mind and stops stress in its tracks.

Now, the thought of meditation scares many people. Sitting still and doing nothing is not taught in our schools. Our society praises action, action and more action. Many people fear what thoughts might come up when they sit still. Others simply don’t think they can sit still even for a short period of time such as 10 minutes.

I believe that everyone who is motivated to learn how to meditate can do so. Because it is a skill, a learned skill. If you decide to put your full attention on something that is important enough to you because you realise the benefits to your life you will learn it. You might not attain mastery, after all people who learn to ride the bike don’t become Tour de France riders overnight. Like every other skill, meditation also requires practice. But just as you get from A to B when you first manage to ride a bike, even if it is wobbly and you might feel a little unnerved, when you start to meditate you will reap immediate benefits.

Also, it is good to remember that there are many different forms of meditation: going into nature is a form of meditation. A bushwalk, a stroll along the river or the beach usually quietens the mind. That is, as long as you actually focus on the nature around you and don’t think about your bills or other worries. As long as you stay focused and don’t let your mind wander off. If you focus your attention on your surroundings – the trees, flowers, mountains or water – you will relieve stress and help your body to return to homeostasis or balance (at least until the next stress factor comes along).

I would like to inspire you to start to learn the skill of focused attention. It will bring you incredible benefits such as joyfulness, contentment and peace. Start small. Take time out on your next walk to really look closely at a flower and become engaged in the wondrousness of nature.

 

Allow all of your attention to be focused on the flower. It does not matter what you choose to put your attention on – water, the sand under your naked feet, trees, the blue sky – as long as you are 100 % focused. If your thoughts wander, no worries, don’t chastise yourself, simply stop and decide to put your attention back onto whatever you were engaged in.

 

The skill of focused attention is like a muscle that needs strengthening and building. Once it is build up, it only needs to be maintained. There are so many ways in our life where the ability to deliberately and purposefully focus our attention will reward us with gifts such as inner peace and joy. The biggest benefit of all is wellbeing and stress relief.

 

Katrin Den Elzen

Recovery, Renewal & Reflection

Making sense of change

 

 

 

 

Why Emotional Healing is crucial to our Wellbeing

True wellbeing is based on several factors. One of the most fundamental and crucial factors to building and maintaining our wellbeing is emotional healing as well as engaging with our emotions. Like the life-giving blood that pumps through everyone’s veins, the desire to be happy and well is shared by all of humanity. It doesn’t matter what gender, age, colour or nationality you are or how much money you have – a desire for happiness is the glue that connects us all.

 

 

We all have this primal longing, it is innate. Yet to achieve emotional healing and to thrive in life is not an easy task. In our modern world we are bombarded with aggression, impatience, pollution, the global financial crisis and environmental destruction. These factors evoke fearful and distressing emotions. We are worried, overworked, stressed, angry, disappointed, maybe even disillusioned and depressed.

Why am I passionate about emotional healing and emotional support? About abundant wellbeing? Because I have experienced a life-crisis that irrevocably changed my life from one moment to the next. At 42 years of age my husband became locked in his body due to illness – imprisoned in his own body for nearly 8 months unable to speak or move, yet intelligently present. I witnessed a level of suffering in my husband that no human being should ever have to endure.

Suffering is the opposite of happiness and wellbeing. I despaired at my inability to alleviate his extreme physical pain. Over time, after his death, this experience of having witnessed unspeakable suffering gave birth in me to a deep-seated desire for wellbeing and happiness – for my family and myself, and also for other people.
It is my heart-felt intention to inspire you to take action towards creating a fulfilling life, a life of thriving and not just coping. I would like to encourage you not to be complacent with a life that is ‘not too bad’. People who undergo a life-crisis often feel a call to grow from the experience, to transform. I’m saying: don’t wait for a crisis to happen until you seek not just an ok life, but an extra-ordinary life. Do it now!

You cannot experience authentic happiness, which comes  from the inside, from being connected to yourself, without engaging with your emotions. We as human beings are emotional beings. Emotions are viewed as ‘airy fairy’ in western society, not real because they are not visible like our bodies or open wounds. But they are very real. In fact, major developments in neuroscience are showing us that our emotions are biologically hardwired. That means there is a biochemical basis to our emotions which affects all of our cells and our entire physiological make-up, including such tangible systems such as the digestive system. Ignoring your emotions is like ignoring the type of food that you eat: you cannot be well and thrive in life if you identify yourself only as an intellectual being and pretend that your emotions don’t exist or don’t matter. That’s like pretending that junk food is good for you and that it has good nutritional value. Wellbeing is dependent on emotional wellbeing. This is the natural consequence of the role emotions play in our lives – both biochemically and on the level of experience.

I will write about mirror neurons soon, which are an amazing recent discovery in neuroscience. They are another proof that our emotions are part of our physiological make-up and don’t only exist in the realm of ‘intangible feelings’. What neuroscience teaches us is that our emotions and the beliefs that trigger those emotions are central to our emotional healing and wellbeing.