Testing Times

Testing times - Emotional Intelligence

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If ever there was a time when I have wholeheartedly questioned what makes us human, it is now. I don’t think I’ve previously been as alarmed by the conditions in which the human race finds itself living today. Just imagine that, despite all our knowledge and the lessons of history, there are still many wars waging around the world. Between Afghanistan, Mexico, Yemen and Syria, over 10,000 people have already perished in battle this year alone. For each of these people, there will be tens of others who have been directly impacted by their deaths.

Add to the mix the half a million deaths globally due to COVID-19 with its resulting economic crisis,  global rioting against racism, ongoing concerns about climate change and we have the ingredients for a perfect storm. Yet we push on, living day-to-day, trying to make the most of each moment while praying that we will be able to make plans for a future that, for now, remains uncertain.

Getting through it

Most of us manage to home in our own little lives and take control of those things that are within our power without dwelling too much on the bigger picture. It’s the only way to cope given that we are unable to affect change on the wars etc. As parents, we have the added responsibility of protecting our children from the burden of worry that accompanies the bad news that dominates the world. But how do we manage that when they are old enough to have devices that are constantly connected to the internet and are inundated with the same news that feeds our anxiety? The answer lies in how we deal with our emotions.

IQ or EQ

Focusing for a moment on my life, my son is at an important crossroads in his schooling right now and is having to make some important decisions about what direction his studies will take him. We are having conversations around natural ability and intelligence in order to manage his expectations. It’s well and good to have aspirations to be a brain surgeon, but if your own brain isn’t up to the job then it’s not going to happen! Self-awareness is therefore important when it comes to making choices in life. I can see the pivotal role emotional intelligence can play in helping my son understand and accept who is, even at the tender age of 15. While cognitive ability such as memory and mental focus are keys to certain success, social and emotional skills are just as valuable when it comes living a well-rounded life. To help my son, I’ve made it my mission to teach him about emotions and the role they play in our lives.

Emotional intelligence

Emotions are chemicals that help regulate our minds and bodies, allowing us to cope with the complexities of making decisions, relating to people, and getting through life. Emotional intelligence (EQ) can be learnt, is measurable, has been scientifically validated and is a skillset that can predict a more effective way of managing one’s well-being, relationships and quality of life. Where IQ helps us solve maths equations, EQ helps us solve people challenges. It is what fuels our creativity and allows us to be authentic. The more I read about it, the more I believe it is fundamentally important to the survival of the human race. If we can learn to master our emotions, we are better placed to handle what life throws at us. I’ve introduced my son to the six basic emotions that I believe are universally experienced by every human being. They are happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust. I’m encouraging him to acknowledge these emotions when they occur and to be curious about what they can teach him. It’s already working, as only today he came to me and talked about his anger instead of throwing his toys out of the pram. I felt tears welling up as he spoke of his frustration and he told me that his stomach was in knots after the recent exams that he felt hadn’t gone so well. He was feeling a strong pressure from the school to make decisions about his future while he is still so young. I reckon they would do well to apply some emotional intelligence to the way they are delivering their message!

How you are

When someone asks us how we are, more often than not we reply with ‘fine thanks’ without giving it much thought. Of course, it depends on who is asking the question as to what your answer might be. But it’s good to remember that we need to be in touch with our true feelings in order to live our best life. So, when my husband asks me how I am, I pause now, and think about what’s going on inside before I answer. I want to be authentic and I want to be supported. Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness and is a skill we can learn to help us make sense of what’s going on for us. If I can articulate to you what’s going on inside of me, I am more likely to have a meaningful interaction with you. You will then feel more comfortable about opening up and talking about what’s going on for you. Far too often, people suppress their emotions and wonder why they feel stunted.

During my research, I came across a global not-for-profit organisation called Six Seconds which was founded in 1997 by three people who care deeply about the emotional wellbeing of the world’s population. The organisation has grown into a global group that researches and shares scientific transformational tools and methods to support their goal of empowering people to take ownership of a positive future.

Their home page asks us …What If…:

All people knew and accepted themselves?
And felt free to make choices to direct their own lives?
And could freely give their energy to create the future they really want?
Can you imagine a world like that?
Can you imagine a ‘you’ like that?

Follow the link to find out more about them here https://www.6seconds.org/about/

Words of wisdom

Two of my favourite words in the English dictionary that live under the banner of EQ are compassion and empathy and are what the world needs right now. Empathy is what allows us to evaluate how other people might feel and compassion is what we should be showing others, no matter who they are, for they too are struggling with the same things as you and I. Once we accept ourselves and find the confidence to make choices that are right for us, we can encourage others to do the same. It’s taken me a very long time to find it, but it’s better late than never. Now I want to share that knowledge with others, especially my children, in the hope that they can overcome their fears about the future. Whatever their IQ might be, I believe it is their EQ that will give them the best chance at living a happy, balanced life.

For further reading on EQ, check out Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’. I leave you this week with a quote from that book:

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.

What if every person currently at war, including those in charge, was to stop for a moment, and to take stock of how they are feeling about being at war, about watching others perish, to talk about the suffering and to be given the choice to live differently? What do you think would happen?

Thanks for taking the time to read this today.

Gill Kenny - the Writer & Blogger

About the author – Gill Kenny

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Through my blog, I aim to provide you with a place where you can feel valued by inviting you to share your journey too.  I will regularly have guest writers who wish to share their views or experiences on each topic. I am open to ideas and happy to cover any topics that interest you, so please feel free to share yours with me.

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Love, Gill x