Expressing emotions accurately is an EQ competency. Experiencing them and expressing them when appropriate is a matter of mental and physical health. In fact there’s a phrase in psychology called “acting out,” which means if you don’t say it, you’re going to do it. You’ll act it out.
Are you acting out your emotions and sabotaging yourself instead of experiencing and dealing with them appropriately in a mindful way?
I have a friend who calls this, “acting in the grip of a strange compulsion.” Well, we needn’t be so dramatic about it, but did you ever find yourself acting strangely, knowing it’s not like you even as you’re doing it? Usually you’re doing something that doesn’t help your own cause, that you wouldn’t ordinarily do, and that you “know better than to do.” You surprise even yourself!
An example of this would be forgetting to pick up your wife’s laundry. Ordinarily you’re an organized and efficient person and this is part of your weekly routine. It’s not like you to forget to do it. Often if you think back, it can be traced to an emotion you didn’t acknowledge, express, or deal with appropriately. For instance you may have had a fight with your wife and failed to resolve it. The resentment lingers and if you aren’t mindful, you’ll forget to pick up her laundry as a way of getting back at her and expressing your anger.
Another example would be being criticized unfairly by your boss, failing to deal with your anger about it, and then failing to get a report in on time. Suddenly you can’t find the energy to do the work. The creativity to do the research leaves you, your fingers just won’t write the report, and every little thing distracts you from the task. Failing to get the report in on time sabotages you, which adds insult to injury. It’s the kind of thing you might do when you aren’t mindful.
In each case the healthy way of handling the emotions is different, but they must be dealt with or else they will find their own way of being expressed.
In intimate relationships, you’ll find you might as well go ahead and say it, because not saying it will damage the relationship more. Resentment will build up, old wounds will fester, and soon you will have made a mountain out of a mole hill. It’s much easier to deal with things right away, using your emotional intelligence – your communication and interpersonal skills.
In the career situation, you can’t count on the boss caring about how you feel, or being interested in a personal relationship with you, but you do have a right to be treated with respect. You must be attuned to what you’re feeling and stand up for yourself in a professional manner, or find somewhere else to work if you care about your health. And one of the first things I caution someone who comes to me for career coaching because they’re dissatisfied with their job, is to get very mindful. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll end up getting yourself fired to get yourself out of there. It happens all the time and there’s a much more gracious way to make your exit.
Emotional Intelligence is all about being mindful. If we experience our emotions and pay attention to them, they can guide us. If we express our emotions appropriately and accurately, we can address a situation before it becomes an issue. If we ignore our emotions, bury them, or fail to listen to their message, we lose a guide and we also a sense of ourselves. It has been said “we are our emotions” because without emotions we would all be alike and all like machines. There would be no reason for choosing one thing over another, no reason for doing one thing rather than another. If we are our emotions, we are also our choices, and our choices often revolve around emotions.
Studying Emotional Intelligence can greatly enrich your life and should be given at least as much attention as your intellectual and academic education. Unfortunately it has been ignored in our formal educations, and its up to us to close the gap. Certified Emotional Intelligence coaches can help you assess your EQ and develop it. The benefits will be all yours.
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