Mindfulness

The Gift of Presence

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I feel extremely fortunate to have had people in my life who have made me feel special.  While we all want to be liked, loved, and happy, there are some people who have made or make us feel valued.  They make us feel special.  My grandmother was one of those people.  Although she passed away thirty years ago, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.  What a gift and legacy she left!  I think about this a lot because I’d also like to leave that legacy with the people that I love.  But if the past few weeks are any indication, I have a lot of work to do.  So with this lofty goal in mind, I’m prompted to ask:  How can I be a better mother, spouse, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend?

Once again, I find the words in Maya Angelou, who sums it up so well “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  What was it about my grandma that made me feel so special?  How do I (or we) do this? The answer is – by being present.

How we nurture relationships by being present.

So many of our lives are filled with making lists, checking them off, all the while thinking about the next thing we have to do. We’re constantly busy in doing mode and it can sometimes feel like a burden or an annoyance to have to stop, even momentarily, for the people we love.  And this can be really difficult sometimes, at least for me it is.  With juggling my business, my family, and all of the other responsibilities I have, I often have a difficult time being fully present. I am guilty of daydreaming when I should be focused on tasks, looking at my phone while also having a conversation, getting caught up in multitasking and rushing through my to-do list. More often than not, I’m not 100% engaged in any given moment.  Yet, there are so many advantages that come from living in the moment.

Getting present requires a certain level of self-awareness. It’s about putting aside your own thoughts, worries, fears, and insecurities and genuinely taking an interest in what that person is saying.  There’s a saying that how you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.  When you lack the ability to make people feel good about themselves it does nothing more than highlight your own inadequacies.

Whether you’re a parent, spouse, friend, or leader, if you believe that people matter, you must become good at making people feel great.  If you want to build and maintain lasting relationships, to consistently positively influence people, to make people feel good about themselves, and to be the kind of people everyone wants to be around, you must make them feel good.  When you press pause—physically and mentally—and hold a space for a person to fully express themselves, that person feels valued, heard, seen, and loved.  Isn’t that what all us ever really want?

How we become more present in our relationships.

  • Be intentional . Start with setting an intention to be more present. It sounds simple and it is. Yet most of us don’t think about how we want to show up in our relationships.  As you begin to engage with the people, having an intention to be more present acts as a reminder, anchors you in the present. You become aware of those times when you are the most present and those times when you’re not. Start to notice what distracts you from the present moment. Phone calls, to-do lists, busyness overload, social media—whatever it is. When you become aware of this stuff, you can work with it or eliminate it so it doesn’t keep distracting you.
  • Create boundaries around your time. Make sure you factor in yourself when organizing your day.  Be sure to schedule your time to include getting your needs met, physically, mentally or emotionally.  Schedule time to get your work done and focus on your priorities during that time.  Then be sure to schedule the time to be present for others.  Say no if it doesn’t fit with your goals or priorities.  I like the expression “if it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no”.  It’s can become very easy to drop what you’re doing and focus on others’ priorities, but we all know that we can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
  • Pay attention to how you feel around certain people. Unfortunately, there are people in our lives who do not make us feel good about ourselves, who can take up a lot of our time with negative energy, and can bring us down.  Next time you’re engaging with that person, take a moment to check in with where you’re at and ask if you’re supporting yourself. For example, are you feeling centered, confident, and calm? What story are you telling yourself about this situation?
  • Put your stuff away. My personal pet peeve is when I’m with someone, in a meeting, having a conversation, or at a dinner, etc. and they are constantly looking at their phone, or prioritizing answering a text or call (unless they have expressed they are expecting a call). Doing this suggests that they you are not their priority.  At least turn off the sound.  Be sure to put your phone away when you walk in the door, especially if you have kids.  And please, don’t walk in the door on a call – finish the call before you come in.  It’s a good practice to put your phone or computer away while in a conversation.
  • Be authentically interested. Lean in, keep eye contact, and listen more than you talk.  One of our deepest human needs is to be understood, valued, and respected for who we are.  However, most people seek to get their point across and be understood first.  In Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Principles of Highly Effective People”, the 5th principle is to “seek first to understand, then be understood”.  Here are the three steps he suggests:
    1. First, listen with your eyes, heart, and ears – listening with your ears isn’t enough. Only 7% of communication comes from our words.  The rest comes from body language (53%) and the tone of our voice (40%).  To hear what other people are really saying, you need to listen to what they are not saying.
    2. Second, stand in their shoes. Try to see the world as others see it and feel as they feel.
    3. Third, practice mirroring. Repeat back to the person what they just said.  It is not mimicking.  Put it in your own words.  This lets the person know you understand what they are saying without judging or giving advice.  Mirroring phrases “so, as I see it…”; “I can see that you’re feeling…”; “So, what you’re saying is…”
  • Practice mindfulness and learn to meditate.  I started my practice a few years ago as part of the Striving Styles certification process, not only because is it part of the curriculum I teach, but because I realized it’s a vital step in becoming more self-aware and personal growth.   It’s pretty difficult to be present in our relationships if we aren’t present with ourselves. For example,  I was away a lot over the past month and wasn’t meditating or practicing mindfulness regularly. I really noticed how this negatively affected my patience and presence in my relationships.   Being mindful and practicing meditation has so many benefits, not only for ourselves but also for those close to us.  I encourage you to watch the TEDx talk: The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger, by Shauna Shapiro if you would like to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  But really, practicing mindfulness is really very simple.

What is mindfulness?

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment.”   – Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Mindfulness is our ability to pay attention to the present moment with curiosity and without judgement.  Mindfulness can be cultivated through a formal practice like meditation…and we can bring mindful attention to our daily activities.

Here are five simple ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life:

  1. Focus on your breath. Take a few really deep, controlled breaths. Deep breathing helps reduce stress, a source of fatique, and increases the level of oxygen in the blood.  Techniques can be as simple as inhaling for five seconds, holding your breath for four seconds and slowly exhaling for four seconds.  You can also try other techniques, which require different positions.
  2. Go for a walk outside. Being in nature can both invigorate you and make you feel more focused.  Here is a simple walking meditation:
    1. Simply close your eyes and listen to the sounds of nature. Stand solidly on the ground and spend several moments noticing how your body feels. Start with the soles of the feet and work upward, relaxing each body part as you become aware of it.  Then, open your eyes and begin to walk slowly, focusing on your surroundings and what you see, hear, smell and feel. Pay close attention to the sensations of the sun, wind and grass on your feet and skin.
  3. Use a meditation app. I really like guided meditations. I enjoy listening to the messages and I like the instruction and structure.  You can decide on the length of time (5, 10 minutes), choose your topic (relax, sleep, focus, anxiety, self-compassion, manifestation, morning, etc.).  Here are a few apps you might like to check out:  Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace, Deepak Chopra.  You can also search guided meditations on Youtube.
  4. Focus intently on the task at hand. I can get easily distracted and overwhelmed when I have a lot of different tasks and things I’m juggling, so picking just one and focusing on completing it helps me be more mindful.
  5. Observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them. Notice when your mind is in the past or future, and gently return to the present. Ideally write them down.  Even if you’re not a writer, giving yourself the freedom to put pen to paper, without judgment, can be a helpful emotional release as well, freeing up your mind to focus on what’s happening in the current moment.

Advantages of being fully present in relationships.

Calmness.  There’s a real sense of peacefulness that comes when I’m not all agitated thinking about everything I need to do, and instead just focus on being with that person, enjoying the here and now.

Increased empathy and compassion.  Having empathy improves relationships.  Brene’ Brown explains,

“If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts—so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people—we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.” – Brene’ Brown

So having empathy helps us understand others when they communicate with us. Plus, it can reduce the amount of conflict in the individual’s life. The most common reason why other people become angry is they feel misunderstood.

Clarity and focus.   I do a better job and enjoy the process more when I give my full attention to whatever I’m working or on whom I’m working with, whether that’s spending time with my kids, writing my blog, working, gardening, etc.

Increased happiness and optimism.  When I’m more aware of my actions and more engaged, no matter the task I’m performing, it improves my outlook on life. Feeling more gratitude and focusing on the positive develops stronger emotional bonds with others.   I adopt more of an abundance mindset when I’m more self-confident.

More meaningful conversations. When I’m actively participating in a conversation and truly taking the time to listen to what the other person has to say, I find that I always take something important away from the discussion. Whether it’s a lesson or something I learned about the person, there is a lot to be gained from being present and actively engaged.

Appreciating the little things more.  It’s easy to overlook all of the simple pleasures in life when we are trying to do too many things at once. It’s really a shame, because sometimes we can be so fixated on creating our ideal, happy life, that we forget to see the happiness and pleasure that are already right in front of us.

“Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.” – Stephen R. Covey

What Do YOU Think?

Do you struggle with being fully present? What are some ways that you’ve found are helpful in being more present?  What are the biggest challenges to staying in the moment? Let us know in the comments!

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Photo source: Barefootblonde.com

MBTI, Personality, Striving Styles

Will your (MBTI) personality type determine your success?

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“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden

The short answer is no. There is not one particular Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality type that is directly correlated to successful outcomes.  No one type is better than another and each type have their own unique strengths, weaknesses and gifts. For example, an INTJ is not any more likely to be successful than an ESFP.  In addition, there is so much more to you than your type such as your upbringing environment, your unique tastes and traits that make you a unique individual.  No matter what personality type we are born with, we all have the ability to be successful.   While success is somewhat subjective to the individual, I think it’s described best as those who achieve their goals or live in alignment with their life vision and values.

So what does determine your success?  Ultimately, it is your habits, mindset, and utilizing the capabilities of your full brain that will determine your success.

That said, knowing and understanding your personality type, your strengths, your preferred working styles, will absolutely contribute to your personal and professional success.  While on its own it, knowing your type won’t impact success or performance outcomes, it is a key first step in developing self-awareness which is an important and foundational factor related to your overall success.

One of the most beneficial outcomes of learning about personality type is you will feel understood.  It will also help you improve relationships and become a better communicator with people who process things differently than you do, and reduce conflict both at home and at work.

Your MBTI describes your unique characteristics, how you process information, your preferences, and how you interact with the world.  Each personality type has a dominant mental process and an inferior mental process, and everyone has a natural preference for one of the two opposites.  Our inferior processes tend to be the sources of many of our weaknesses and embarrassments while our dominant processes tend to be easier for us to master and use effectively.   The best way to explains this is that we all have a preferred hand to write with which is easier for us, but that doesn’t mean we never use the other hand.  For example, if you’re right-handed and you suddenly try to switch to writing with your left hand you could do it, but it would take a log more time and it would look a lot sloppier.

Here is a brief explanation of the MBTI:

  • There are four MBTI dichotomies:
    • Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E) describes where you get your energy. Extroverts gain energy from interaction with the outside world while Introverts gain energy from pondering their thoughts
    • Intuitive (N) or Sensing (S) describes how you gather information. Intuitives focus on the abstract, theoretical, and “unseen” while Sensors focus on the concrete, literal, and real details of the world around them and their experience with it.
    • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) describes how you make decisions. Thinking types “step outside” of a decision to consider the logic, pros and cons, and the truth of a situation. Feeling types “step inside” a decision to consider how it will impact the people involved, whether harmony will be maintained, and whether the decisions aligns with their values
    • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) describes how you interact with the outside world. Judging types like to have a schedule and a plan. They like to get all their work done before “playing”.  Perceiving types like to mix work and play, and have an open-ended, spontaneous schedule. They like to stay open for new opportunities and inspiration.
  • Everyone has a natural preference for one of the two opposites on each of the four dichotomies.
  • They describe preferences
  • There is no right or wrong
  • You use all 8 of the preferences, but you prefer four
  • Sometimes how we are at home, at work, alter our personalities to fit that environment.

*Contact me if you would like to know your MBTI personality type

While understanding your personality type is incredibly insightful in knowing our strengths and development areas, this alone will not help you achieve your goals, or ultimately determine your success.  It is learning what to do with that knowledge, and how to go about making changes in our life so we can live more fully that will make us successful.

Learning how to utilize and develop your “full” brain, while uncovering and replacing your old stories and habits of mind that no longer serve you with those that are more in line with supporting your best selves, starts first with self-awareness.  However, this is just the first step because then we need to “do the work”.  This is the hard stuff.

This is why I think the Striving Styles Personality System (SSPS) is so incredibly effective and offers a more comprehensive development process.  It provides a systematic approach to building self-awareness and emotional intelligence for those who want to achieve personal goals and reach their full potential.

The SSPS is an evolution of Carl Jung’s research on personality type and the MBTI.  While I have extensively used and worked with the MBTI in organizations, and still believe the MBTI is a very effective tool  when integrated into leadership and employee development programs, for improving teams, coaching individuals, and career planning, it doesn’t identify what is getting in the way of achieving our potential.

The SSPS development process helps us to examine our mindset and uncovers those negative habits of mind, including your shadow fears, beliefs, and triggers, that ultimately undermine your efforts, ambitions and potential.  It helps us understand how our brains are organized and hardwired, as well as the specific needs and emotions that drive your behaviour.  It helps identify behavioural patterns we developed as children that no longer serve us.  It offers a deeper understanding of your predominant style, your major psychological needs and fears that are associated with your style, and your associate styles, so you can look at some of the things that might be getting in YOUR way of achieving your potential.

The SSPS is a development tool that offers a way of understanding ourselves, which helps us be able to answer the questions “who are we meant to be?” and what is it that is getting in the way of achieving our full potential.

Your success will be determined by getting clear on what you want in your life and how you want to show up for yourself and others, by valuing your unique strengths and your quirks, and by developing good habits, and developing a positive mindset.  As usual, I like Maya Angelou definition of success:

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

As a bonus, here are some other factors will determine your success:

  • Have a growth mindset, defined by Carol Dweck as “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
  • Get clear on what you want in your life and what does it looks like (1 year, 5 years, 10 years). Your vision statement should describe where you are going to be, and the values you will use to get you there.
  • Know your “why” of your vision because it is your ultimate motivator and is the one the thing that will inspire you and those around you.
  • Utilize meta-habits, or those foundational habits that enhance your ability to adopt other habits, such as exercise, self-knowledge, meditation, quality sleep, etc.
  • Believe that you have self-determination, the belief that you have control over your choices and your life.
Emotional Intelligence, Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Striving Styles

Discovering our je ne sais quoi

” I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself” – Emma Stone

Inspired by a recent group of my workshop participants, as well as my upcoming trip to Paris, France with my teenage daughter, promoted me to read and reflect on the phrase “je ne sais quoi”, a phrase often used to describe French or Parisian women.  I read recently that we spend the first half of our life trying to fit in, while the second half we spend trying to stand out.  Inspiring, nurturing, and encouraging our children to have the confidence and independence to fully embrace their unique whole selves and live fully, especially during this first half of their lives, is my deepest desire for them.  I think the best way to do this is to do our best and model it for them.  I couldn’t agree more with the following quote:

“Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kids” – Lenny Lemons

Here’s what I found that best describes someone who embodies “je ne sais quoi”:

  • Nurtures her internal well-being as much as her external beauty.  Life isn’t about impressing others but enjoying herself.
  • Accentuates her strengths, focusing on her unique characteristics, both physically and personality.  Owning what she has, not fixing or changing herself.  She shows up as the best version of herself.
  • Keeps her beauty natural and authentic to her unique physical characteristics.
  • She finds pleasure in healthy, quality food, indulging in moderation.
  • She uses her clothing and physical appearance as a tool to establish and represent her state of being.
  • Brings passion to everything she does, from the mundane to the big things.
  • Stops trying so hard to impress others.  It’s about being you!
  • She is self-possessed, and builds her life around knowing what she loves, what turns her on, what’s she’s passionate about.  She builds her life on inner joy and personal radiance.  Finds answers within and shares that passion with the world.
  • She simplifies her life so she has more space to strive for passionate pursuits and stress-free living.
  • She savours the moment by slowing down.
  • While she visualizes and plans her life, and where she’s going, she can let go of control and enjoy her journey. She focuses on how to presently show up in the moment.
  • She does not take life too seriously, approaching her life with a playfulness and friskiness that delights everyone she encounters.
  • She continuously learns and grows.
  • She exudes confidence, intelligence, sophistication, and style that comes from the clarity of knowing who she is!

Understanding ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, fears and underlying beliefs that get in our way to becoming our best self is fundamental in discovering our je ne sais quoi.  The “This is You” workshop and Striving Styles Personality System helps us to further dive into an understanding of our personality,  helps us to recognize our innate strengths, offers insight and understanding of ourselves and and how our unique brain works.  These are the skills needed to uncover and nurture our authentic self.  Contact me if you would like to discover your je ne sais quoi!

Communication, Emotional Intelligence

How’s your emotional literacy?

“And sometimes I have kept my feelings to myself, because I could find no language to describe them in.” ~ Jane Austen

Knowing how you feel and how to accurately identify your emotions through words – spoken or written – is a powerful way to improve our connections with others, build understanding, and enriches our relationships.  Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.  Learning the language of emotions is difficult, and describing your feelings is tough.  At least it is for most of us.  According to Brene’ Brown’s research, the majority of people she interviewed are not comfortable with emotions and far from “fluent in the language of feelings”.

What is an emotional vocabulary?

An emotional vocabulary is one in which language accurately describes how you are feeling. While parents or adults often encourage kids to express their feelings with words (we tell them to “use your words”) we often fall short ourselves.  We often instinctively restrict our vocabulary to anything but the broadest terms (such as “angry” or “happy”) or adopt lingo (like “cool” or “awesome”) to abstract and generalize our feelings.

Why are emotions so hard to explain?

Emotions are very nuanced, with slightly different meanings, and can be very hard to explain. Imagine trying to describe a particular shade of blue – is it more purple than green? Bright or dark? Is there a specific name for that shade such as sky, navy, or indigo?

Emotions are often mixed, and to explain them, you need to be able to identify and label the tones of emotion that make up what you feel. This can be difficult for people who are adept at expressing themselves emotionally, forget those of us who haven’t had much practice developing those capacities for recognizing what we feel.

As a result, we will often forget how to express our emotions verbally, even resorting to emojis, LOL’s, etc. my personal go-to’s, ;), to clarify our feelings. These behaviors are not only adopted by our kids but encouraged culturally as the very speed of communications shortcuts vocabulary and expression to anything but the mere essentials.

Why emotional literacy is so important.

Many of us only know or rely on a few emotional descriptive words, such as mad, sad, happy. How often do you use an emotional word in everyday speech? Can you describe your emotions?   Many of us haven’t been taught.  If our family didn’t discuss emotions on a regular basis, or we were shut down when you tried, we wouldn’t have learned all the ways they can be described and communicated.

Emotional literacy is an important aspect of language.  If we can’t name or articulate what’s happening to us emotionally, we can’t address it correctly.  Much like when you go to the doctor and you are must describe your symptoms.  Without the right descriptions or words, the doctor is unable to accurately diagnose you, and therefore, offer the right prescription or treatment.

Learning to use accurate feeling words when expressing ourselves supports emotional growth.  Developing and expanding our emotional vocabulary will help us approach feelings and relationships in a more sophisticated and well-adjusted way.

Here are some words to describe emotions (from Brene Brown):

Anger

Anxious

Belonging

Blame

Curious

Disappointed

Disgust

Embarrassment

Empathy

Excited

Fear| Scared

Frustrated

Gratitude

Grief

Guilt

 

Happy

Humiliation

Hurt

Jealous

Joy

Judgment

Lonely

Love

Overwhelmed

Regret

Sad

Shame

Surprised

Vulnerability

Worried

 

Self-Awareness

What is Self-Awareness? (and how you develop it)

“People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships – not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem.” —Deepak Chopra

Self-awareness seems to have become the latest buzzword in both personal and leadership development.  And this is really good news!  Recent research suggests that when we understand ourselves, really see ourselves, we are more confident and creative.  We make better decisions, cultivate stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.  We’re better at our jobs and get more promotions. We’re more effective leaders with more-satisfied employees and more-profitable companies.   Unfortunately though, research on this subject suggests that 95% of people think they are self-aware, while only 10-15% actually are.

In my last post, I discussed the four components of emotional intelligence, and having and cultivating self-awareness is one of the four components of emotional intelligence (EQ).  As simple as it sounds though, it is a skill requires our undivided attention, time and patience to develop and practice.  While feeling happy is great, knowing why you feel happy and what caused you to be happy is an indicator of a person who is self-aware.  When we’re equipped with this self-awareness, we become better at cultivating more of what invigorates us in our lives, while eliminating, minimizing, or effectively navigate those circumstances that don’t.

Knowing why you’re feeling the way you are in any given situation requires each of us to pay attention. While we are generally aware and pay attention to all the external events in our lives, sometimes we often neglect to observe ourselves. We often don’t’ explore why we see what we see or why we feel what we feel.

More specifically, having self-awareness  involves:

  • Being able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take.
  • It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. When we choose this approach, we choose to welcome a life of quality, fulfillment, and contentment.

What self-awareness isn’t

To further understand self-awareness, I find it helpful to look at what it isn’t:

  • Being passive aggressive
  • Being controlling
  • Blaming others
  • Being defensive
  • Unconscious behavior changes

In other words, not being self-aware involves not noticing how our behavior adversely affects those around us and how it can sabotage the relationships we are trying to build.

Benefits of having self-awareness

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung

  1. You let go of things that don’t serve you.

Letting go of things that no longer serve you is easier once you understand their negative effects.  Thus, they become less desirable.  This makes your ambitions, dreams, and goals much easier and more clearer.

  1. Become more at peace with yourself

When you take the time to listen to how you are feeling and investigate why you are feeling what you are, you become more in tune with your most authentic self. You begin the journey of searching out what piques your curiosity and thus gravitate toward moments that will cultivate more peace and harmony in your life.

  1. Become better able to communicate with clarity

By understanding yourself, especially the “why”, you can clearly communicate with others your joy, your sadness, your frustration, your hopes. And when you speak clearly, others who truly are listening will come to know who you truly are.

  1. Decision making is simplified

Knowing what you want is the most significant part to making the best decision. And when we finally discover what we want, we can say no quickly to the rest.

  1. Clear purpose and direction

While we can always appreciate different paths that others take, when we know the direction we need to take and why we are on it, it is easier to stay focused and not stray.

  1. An enriched life experience

Key to reaching self-awareness is getting clear on your why. Magnificent power is given to each of us when we answer with clarity the “why”. When knowing what enlivens us, what makes us shrink in fear or what peaks our curiosity, we can then seek out what will enrich us, what will heighten our experience and thus what will enrich our lives.

  1. Find true fulfillment and contentment

Living an enriched life is discovering what fulfillment and contentment are. Being fully present in the moment, in the lives we have created for ourselves and wanting to be there, and then having the chance to experience this similar moment every day in varying degrees is to attain fulfillment. We can only do that if we are honest with ourselves about what we feel and why in any given situation.

  1. Optimism rises

Optimism will rise as we begin to see evidence that applying what we learn about ourselves to life truly does lead us down a path that enlivens our lives. And when we see a fulfilling life is possible, we begin to believe again that life can be a truly amazing gift.

  1. Reduction of guilt and regrets

Due to the ability to make better decisions, the guilt and the regrets are diminished. When we confidently make decisions, being aware of how we feel and how our decision will effect others, we know the outcome, by and large, before we leap. Once we leap we accept that not everyone will applaud, but we won’t regret it and we will be able to let go of judgment from others as we own our decision.

  1. Improve relationships

Self-awareness is a key component of having emotional intelligence, and as was discussed here, developing our EQ improves our relationships because we are cognizant of our actions and how they affect those around us, and we know how to handle ourselves effectively as we can observe accurately what we feel and why.

  1. You become more self-confident!

A healthy balance of self-confidence and humility is the most attractive quality a person can have.  Striving to be your best and most self-confidence self inspires and enhances the lives of others in your life.

How to develop self-awareness:

“Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… the power to choose, to respond, to change.” —Stephen Covey

  • Accept the responsibility of changing responses and behaviors to external stimuli: people, situations, life.
  • Reflect on the outcome in each situation and contemplate your role. Pause and examine everything quietly before you judge yourself and others.
  • Become curious about yourself. Be eager to learn new things about life and yourself in general.
  • Practice self-care, including your physical and emotional health
  • Develop high emotional intelligence
  • Change your mindset. Turn off the old mental chatter that continues to explain and justify everything in your life in the exact same way.

Seeking to develop these soft skills and personal attributes will not only enhance our life, but of those lives around us.  They enable us to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.  At times however, the process to become more self-aware will be uncomfortable, but the unease and discomfort is normal, but temporary if you stick with it.   The reward is an enriched, quality life.

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Emotional Intelligence

What’s your EQ? The Four Areas of Emotional Intelligence

”You don’t have to control your thoughts.  You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

How we manage our lives and interact with others lies in our ability to interpret our emotions and the emotions of others.  Yet, nobody actually teaches us this. While we are taught many things throughout school, we were not taught how to manage our emotions and thoughts. Emotional Intelligence or EQ is the management and understanding of our individual emotional circumstances as well as the emotional states of others.   EQ is fundamental in the work I do with both individuals and leaders.

Emotional Intelligence has been proven to be more vital and a more accurate determinate than IQ when it comes to long-term success in one’s quality of life. Recently, we are hearing a lot more about EQ, a term created by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer.  But it was  Dan Goleman’s 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, EQ that brought it to the mainstream.  It is often the detail forgotten about that upon tending to makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives no matter what the circumstances may be.  And, the great news is, unlike one’s IQ, EQ is a learned skill. Each of us has the ability to improve our EQ with awareness and practice no matter what our age.

So what is Emotional Intelligence?

It’s often broken down into the following three components and skills:

  1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
  3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

There are four areas where one will exhibit if they have a high emotional intelligence: two components are under Personal and two under Social.

PERSONAL:

Self-Awareness includes:

  • knowing your story and how it affects you
  • making peace with your past
  • knowing your beliefs, your emotions & your behaviour patterns
  • knowing your relationship patterns

Self-Management includes:

  • learning skills for breathing and relaxation
  • completing your basic emotional healing work
  • learning skills for soothing and motivating yourself
  • maintaining healthy eating and exercise

SOCIAL:

Social Awareness includes:

  • understanding non-verbal signals
  • developing a positive view of others
  • understanding basic human emotional needs
  • understanding “games” and personal integrity

Relationship Management includes:

  • developing skills for reflective listening and empathy
  • learning skills for healthy assertiveness
  • learning conflict resolution skills
  • developing skills for support and affirmation of others.

A big part of emotional intelligence is being able to feel an emotion without having to act on it.  Exploring and understanding ourselves while respectfully and thoughtfully navigating the world around us whether in work or play is, when we look at what our lives are all about, what living well should be all about. Striking a healthy balance between ourselves and the relationships we build, and ensuring the relationships we build with ourselves  and with others are healthy, respectful, thoughtful, loving and kind.

EQ is simple in theory, and eventually does become simple in practice, but initially, it will take time, attention and patience to build a muscle that may not have been developed or used in quite some time, possibly ever. Now, as you will see below, there are many different characteristics.

What can we gain by improving our EQ?

Gaining emotional intelligence enables one to master self-worth, emotional and psychological well-being. With increased emotional intelligence, we are also much more effective in our relationships.

Benefits & Characteristics: Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

  • become the curator of your own happiness regardless of outside forces, events or people
  • solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly
  • Be able to accurately perceive emotions in faces
  • manage emotions effectively – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure
  • regulate emotions such as anger or jealously and keep them at a healthy level.
  • calmly find solutions to problems
  • exude confidence due to trusting intuition and not allowing emotions to get out of control
  • can look honestly at yourself – observing strengths and weaknesses – being able to work on areas you can improve
  • become comfortable with change
  • strength to say no
  • exemplify sincere thoughtfulness
  • able to be disciplined and therefore able to discern between immediate and long-term effects
  • thereby experience much success, effectiveness and productivity
  • strong listening skills
  • less likely to judge and stereotype
  • manage relationships well
  • able to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you
  • manage disputes effectively, become an excellent communicator, and become adept at building and maintaining relationships

The benefits included on this list are the reason I have been actively researching and continuing to remain curious about the concept of EQ. As I continue to improve and apply the practices of being emotionally intelligent both personally and professionally, I have begun to see remarkable improvements.

Emotional intelligence is something that each of us—if we are willing to learn and grow—can improve over time. An increase in emotional intelligence can lead us to more meaningful relationships and make us better suited to navigate the emotional landscapes of our lives. It’s not something that is easy to accomplish within a few months but rather it’s a journey over many years.

While we are often stronger with in one area over others, we can develop them all so that we become better leaders in our lives, whether at our workplace, our home or elsewhere.