Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Emotional Intelligence and Anger

In 1995, author, psychologist, and science journalist, Daniel Goleman, wrote a book entitled, Emotional Intelligence which made its way to The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half. It was a relatively new concept designed to assist companies in determining which characteristics defined leadership qualities in their employees. Certainly one's level of intelligence, (IQ), was critical. Their technical skills, such as accounting and business planning, played an important role as did one's cognitive abilities such as analytical reasoning, big picture thinking, and long term visions. But what he found regarding one's emotional intelligence (EQ) was that it was twice as important as the others for jobs on every level. 

What exactly is EQ and how does it apply to the average individual? 

1. You are in tune with your emotional self. You are able to thoughtfully identify and express your feelings. Your vocabulary extends far beyond the standard angry, happy, sad, tired or I don't know. You have a deeper understanding of specifically what you are feeling, why, and how you need to handle it. 

2. You're curious about people. This curiosity is the product of empathy, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ. Empathy is the ability to connect on an emotional level with what others are experiencing and can bond people together on a deeper level.

3. You welcome change. Emotionally intelligent people are flexible and adapt readily to life's uncertainties. Fear of the unknown is a limiting factor in one's overall enjoyment and success in life. They can embrace change because they have the confidence to handle it and the ability to make it advantageous for themselves as well as others.

4. You know your strengths and weaknesses. EI people do not feel compelled to always be strong nor are they concerned with what others think about them. They recognize their weaknesses and work at strengthening them. At the same time, they are confident enough to fully utilize their strengths to get the most out of life.

5. You're a good judge of character. EI people feel connected to others and notice the little nuances that reveal insights into the other person's character. They understand who they are and why they do what they do.

6. They don't take personal offense. For the most part, they have a thick skin and aren't easily offended by what others say or do. In this regard, they don't get their feelings hurt as often, thereby reducing the amount of anger generated by being offended.

7. No is an important part of their vocabulary. Not only do they have the ability to set boundaries and limits regarding the demands others put on them, they can also say no to themselves. They understand what appropriate behavior is and resist the urge to allow their emotions  to inappropriately be expressed, not matter how tempting. They also have the ability to delay gratification and avoid impulsive behaviors, giving themselves the much-needed time to carefully consider the best course of action.

8. You put mistakes into their proper perspective. EI people recognize that mistakes are a necessary part of the life experience. They consider the value of each attempt, learn the lessons, and put the experience behind them. They refrain from the temptation to rehash old news and prefer to move forward. 

9. You give without thought of recompense. You are truly generous and altruistic, seeking to enrich the lives of others without thought of personal gain. This enables them to build strong relationships with others as they are viewed as honorable, trustworthy, and genuinely caring. 

10. You don't hold grudges. You recognize that everyone makes poor choices in life and you are willing to put past issues behind you. Holding on to prior offenses is judgmental and leads to increased levels of stress, anger, bitterness, and resentment, all of which are harmful to you. Letting go is a sign of self-love. 

11. You neutralize toxic people. You can readily identify those who are toxic and choose to either remove yourself from their presence, limit the amount of interaction you have with them, and/or know how to diffuse their behaviors and protect yourself from their harmful effects. They do not have a negative impact on you or your life.

12. You are not a perfectionist. EI people seek excellence rather than the impossible state of perfection. They strive to be better or do better, knowing that trying to achieve that which is unattainable only leads to stress, low self-esteem, self-degradation, and unhappiness. They delight their accomplishments rather than failures.

13. You live in a state of gratitude. This is a daily mindset. Doing so reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. People who choose an attitude of gratitude as a lifestyle experience improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. 

14. You know how to disconnect. Taking time off, creating a balance between work and play, dealing with issues and knowing when to disregard them, keeps stress levels down. Disconnecting from work, people, and technology and reconnecting with yourself, nature, hobbies, and God allows you much needed time to recharge your batteries and be more effective in all aspects of life.

15. You give your body what is healthy. This means limiting caffeine, eliminating or reducing the use of medications, getting the proper amount of sleep and exercise, and consuming nutritious foods, properly hydrating, and so forth.

16. You end negative self-talk. The most important voice is the one in your own head. Self-talk will either enrich your life or destroy it. EI people recognize the importance of positive self-talk and its impact on every aspect of our lives from one's emotional, physical, spiritual health to our relationships, professional and personal success and more.

17. You take ownership for your own happiness and joy. You don't' allow others to push your buttons and make you angry, to determine how you feel about yourself, to decide how and when you will be happy. Your feelings, actions, and life are solely the result of your personal choices. You blame no one and take full ownership for your happiness or lack thereof. Self-responsibility is a key component to being emotionally intelligent. 

In conclusion, the core components of one who has a high level of emotional intelligence is one who possesses common sense, takes personal responsibility, and practices self-love. By developing each of these attributes we have greater control over the quality of our lives, thereby greatly reducing the amount of anger and negativity we experience. 

Special thanks to my guest Erica Peitler:  201-486-1099
Thanks to Travis Bradberry of for sharing his knowledge.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Anger: Incident or Issue?

In the years that I facilitated my support group for estranged families,  I primarily worked with older parents whose adult children had severed their relationship with them. The parents were perplexed: "I was a good parent", they declared. "I gave my children the best of everything. There is no reason why they should be punishing me like this!"  

Over the course of several months, I was generally able to offer the parents some insights into what the actual causes might be. One gentleman, named Howard, explained that he worked three jobs so that his kids could go to the best private schools, take dance lessons, and have every amenity they wanted. "How can she claim I didn't love her?" he asked. "I gave her everything!" "Howard,", I asked, "Did you care for her when she was sick?" "Of course not! I was working." "Did you go to her dance recitals when she was little?" "No", he stated. "I had to work to pay for those lessons." "So when you say you gave her everything, what you really did was give her everything you thought she wanted or what you thought was best for her. Maybe what she really wanted was you, your presence. Maybe your absence felt like you didn't care and having you present in her life would have made her feel loved." He sat motionless, his mind deep in contemplation of what I had just shared. "I thought I was doing the right thing, being a good father." "It's not about right or wrong, good or bad. There was simply a miscommunication." He nodded. "Go to her. Ask her to tell  you what you did that hurt her and how she felt when you disappointed her. Listen without defending your actions. Acknowledge her feelings and experiences, for they are valid for her. Then apologize for not being the kind of dad she wanted. This is about her experience, not your need to justify yours."
Howard, took my advice and for the first time in seven years, he and his daughter were speaking again. Although initially awkward, it was a beginning to an understanding and eventual reconciliation. 

Consider the following in determining if anger is due to the actual incident or to a deeper issue: 

Very often,  a miscommunication of feelings and needs leads to a misunderstanding of what each party is seeking or how the other person's action are affecting them. Each person views the relationship from their narrow perspective which can ultimately lead to hurt feelings and a breakdown in the relationship. These issues are left to fester until they reach the breaking point causing an ultimate outburst or  separation of both parties. Even in more immediate circumstances, when one misunderstands anothers words or intentions, anger can ensue.
Solution: Speak clearly and honestly. Ask for clarification from the other party if you have any concerns about what they are saying or doing. 

Very often we mistakenly believe that when an individual is irate, it is directly related to the immediate incident. It's a case of the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Certainly we all know that a camel can support the weight of a single straw. Yet pile on enough over time and eventually the camel will collapse under the strain. So it is with humans: the incident occurring may seem relatively minor compared to their reaction yet it is actually the culmination of many smaller events that have never been resolved that can finally lead to an angry outburst.
Solution: Examine and address each issue as it arises. Some can be resolved internally without the need for discussion. For those of a more serious nature, speak up and discuss them as they occur. 

Past Issue
A third possibility is that the incident itself is triggering a painful, unresolved memory from one's past. Consider someone who was bitten by a dog: a toy poodle wanting attention is considered a pleasant experience for many. Yet for a former dog-bite recipient, it triggers anxiety and pain. The fear and angry reaction is not relevant to the poodle, but to a prior unresolved concern.
Solution: When anger arises, take a moment and examine its source. Is there some hurt or fear from your past that is fueling your response in the present? Contemplation of such can lead to a new-found awareness and subsequent healing. 

Yet another source relates to how a person feels when in your presence. Someone may be comfortable listening to a criticism from one of their coworkers but be completely unreceptive from another. The first may be someone who's opinion is respected or where the individual believes their intentions are honorable. One may be less trusting of the other if they believe they have a hidden agenda that is not in their best interest. Being suspicious of their motives can lead to feeling defensive at anything they perceive to be potentially threatening or disrespectful in any regard.
Solution: Learn to objectively observe what others are saying or doing. Separate the actions from the individual. Consider any validity to their words and/or actions.  If none is found, let it go without incident and move on.

The final option is related to one's perception of what is transpiring. We all tend to see things from our own view point. Our beliefs, prior experiences, expectations, and such often prohibit us from seeing the truth. It's imperative for us to examine our perception to be certain it is accurate and serves us well.
Solution: Examine your beliefs to be certain they are based on truth rather than inaccuracies. Enlist the assistance of others if necessary. Make any necessary adjustments. 

In conclusion, we can see that there are many possible reasons for one's anger.  Keep in mind, that it is not necessarily the immediate incident that is causing an angry response but rather the issue behind it. Therefore, take a moment and examine the incident objectively. Ask yourself, "If this was an isolated incident, would I be reacting so strongly? Even if this incident is important, if it was occurring at another time, with another person, under different circumstances, would it still hold the same significance to me? Would I still respond in the same manner?" 

Answers to these questions and more can offer significant insight into the real issues behind our indignation. In doing so, our response may be more in alignment with the relevance of what has transpired. Always give yourself the opportunity to inquire as to whether your anger is related to the actual incident or to a deeper issue

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lose Your Temper For Good!

I've had many clients over the years request my help in teaching them how to control their tempers. "I lose my temper and afterwards feel terrible. I don't want to do this anymore. I need to learn how to control my temper." My response to them is this, "If you lose your keys you seek to find them. If you lose your job you hope to be rehired or to acquire a new job. However, not everything that you lose needs to be found, your temper being a perfect example. Some things are better left 'unfound'. So if you lose it, lose it for good."  It's not difficult to do but there are a few things one must know such as why people really get angry.  

In its most basic sense: 

1. Anger is an indication of unmet needs. Each of us has basic human requirements necessary for our very survival. Without such essentials as clean water, fresh air, basic housing (or protection from the elements), food, love, safety, etc. one is at risk for all sorts of issues that could potentially harm them. Our basic safety and well-being is a God-given right. 

Keep in mind that as an adult, I am responsible for securing each of my basic needs. While I may ask for assistance from time-to-time, understand that those I seek help from have a right to deny me. In that case, it is wise to have a backup plan in place so that I am not without that which I need to survive. Here's an example: if I am hungry, I can ask my husband to make me a sandwich. But he's watching his favorite TV show and turns down my request. I can become irate or get up and make myself something to eat. If my child wants a new car and asks me to purchase it for them I have every right to refuse and suggest that they get a job to pay for it. 

Once my needs have been secured, I am content and anger-free. It is important to take into account the necessity of patience (not everything we desire will manifest immediately). Determination, resourcefulness, and commitment are all necessary to achieve our greatest accomplishments.  Exercising each will ensure success.
Let me also distinguish between our authentic needs and whimsical desires. Needs are essential to our very being; desires are the frivolous extras that we want but are not absolutely necessary. Being able to differentiate between them will save a lot of angst in getting one's needs satisfied. It will help you to: a) identify your true needs, and b) determine what steps are necessary to acquire them. Focusing on the solution prevents the unfortunate loss of temper.

2. We often put unnecessary or unrealistic expectations on ourselves, others, the world in general or even on God. It is critical to examine what and how much we demand of the people in our lives and assess if we are being fair and reasonable. Each circumstance and person involved must be examined individually so that we do not inadvertently require the same from each person. Age, level of intelligence, abilities, motivation, and other factors must all be taken into account. To expect that every employee at my company perform to the exact same standards is unfair. Some have more ability and interest than others; others have more time or resources available to them. One size does not fit all in any circumstance. Expecting more than what is reasonable in each situation creates unnecessary stress and frustration. And when our demands are not met, our tempers rise to the occasion in an attempt to manipulate the change we are seeking.

Be aware, too, of when others are putting demands on us. Be certain that you are ok with them and willing and able to fulfill them. If not, speak up and make the necessary adjustments. Failure to do so leads to feeling controlled, disrespected, pressured, devalued, and so on, leading to an angry eruption of emotions. 

3. Perception plays an even greater role in determining anger than reality does. A driver who cuts me off on the highway can be perceived as rude and arrogant. Or, one can imagine that they were preoccupied with a serious family matter and simply weren't paying attention. Our perception, how we choose to view others, a situation, or life in general - our basic thought process - actually determines whether we will become irate or be understanding. I recall when I was a teenager having a friend who's father bought a car for each of the children except my friend. He erupted one night saying to his father "You never loved me - that's why I never got a car!" Although the father denied it, this young man's beliefs (perceptions) led him to an angry outburst. 

Those who view life from a deprivation consciousness, one of deficiency or lack, are more likely to lose their tempers than those who live from a perspective of gratitude. The have's and the have not's: one chooses to see life as one of limited resources, opportunities, money, happiness, success, etc. and believes they must fight tooth and nail to get their rightful share. Tempers fuel their actions. While those who look for reasons to be grateful, who live in a constant state or appreciation, see the abundant blessings around them and celebrate each gift that enters their life and find value in that which is not longer available to them. One compares their life to others and is consumed with jealousy and fear. The other trusts that life is balanced and what is meant to enter, or exit, their lives will. They are at peace with what is.

4. Be thoughtful. Too often we fail to consider how the other party might feel should we rage on them. It is never ok to hurt another with one's words nor be rude or disrespectful. It is perfectly acceptable to verbally express one's anger towards the other person but one must always do so with the utmost care and thoughtfulness. Keep in mind that your behavior is a reflection of you. Tempers are not typically admired and neither is the one who releases them. Remember the old adage: Your reputation precedes you. Create a reputation that is consistently favorable and it will serve you well in all areas of your life. 

In conclusion: being able to identify your needs and seeking ways to fulfill them, through readjusting your expectations and the demands you place on yourself, others, the world, and God to what is more reasonable, and in changing your perception from one of negativity and deprivation to one of gratitude and blessings, enables you to  lose your tempers once and for all. You will be infinitely happier and so will those whom you have contact with. So, stop searching for your temper once you've lost it. It is better off unfound.

Proverbs 29:22   A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Anger and Disease: the Connection and Remedies

There is no denying that the mind, body, and spirit are all interconnected. What impacts one affects all others. While the general public has become more health conscious in terms of eating healthier, dropping those unnecessary pounds, and exercising more, what often gets overlooked - that continues to impact our health - are our emotional issues and beliefs. 

Let me begin by clarifying exactly who we are. We are God's creations, His sacred children, created in His image and likeness. But how exactly does that define me? God is Love, pure and simple. In that regard, I am Love as well for I am created from Him and can only be that which I originate from. Therefore, I am love. I am not my issues or behaviors. I am not selfish, rude, arrogant, afraid, bad and so on.  Behaviors reflect my brokenness; they are a reflection of my unhealed issues. If I was criticized as a child, I may become defensive of any discord. But my defensiveness is not who I am; it merely reveals that I am fearful of disparagement whether I recognize its origins or not. The key to restoration is to be aware of those tapes that repeatedly play in my mind, reminding me of how bad I felt about myself 20, 30, or even 40 years ago. My willingness and ability to identify and begin healing my emotional baggage translates into my physical well-being as well. 

World-renowned medical doctor and NY Times bestselling author,  Dr. Bernie Siegel, says: "One's life and one's health are inseparable. Genes do not make the decisions; our internal environment does. If  you internalize anger it destroys you. Self-induced healing is not an accident." Emotions commonly viewed as negative can prove destructive to the human body. Stress, the number one killer, is an emotion rooted in our thought process, as are all feelings. One who feels the need to succeed or to conform to the ways and beliefs of others will produce feelings of anxiety and fear. The body is the messenger of the mind and emotions not rooted in love wreak havoc on our health. Therefore what is occurring in the physical self reveals what needs to be addressed in the inner (sub) conscious mind. 

In his NY Times bestselling book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton reveals how our bodies change on a cellular level due to our beliefs and thoughts. Disease indicates that our body, mind, and spirit are not working in perfect harmony with one another, thus creating a state of dis-ease. In order to improve our physical health, one must first address their emotional and spiritual issues and beliefs. Healing anger, forgiving those who have wronged us, overcoming limiting beliefs of fear, learning to love freely and without restrictions (including ourselves), removing prejudice and the need for revenge: when we are able to accomplish the healing of our emotional self, the body will naturally follow suit. 

But how can one heal their past issues if in fact they are not clear about precisely what they are? Perhaps a child lost their father at an early age and is now distrusting of men. She may not see the connection nor does she necessarily need to. She is in essence prejudging all men as untrustworthy. Recognizing that this is what she is doing enables her to make the decision to see each man from an individual perspective, being more receptive to getting to know them before making a determination about their character.  One can apply this technique to every aspect of their lives: look at what beliefs or  behaviors are causing distress in your life, interfering with your relationships, holding you back from achieving success or being happy. If you are able to get to the root of each and change it, that's wonderful. If you are unable to identify their origin, simply choose to love  yourself enough to forgive anyone involved in creating the original incident, ask God to help you let go of the past, and focus your energy on being more loving to yourself and others. And in doing so, in being authentic and true to your higher self which is love, you can rise above any prior events or beliefs and heal your body and your life. 

Thank you to my guest, Teresa W. Leming, Light Worker & Spiritual Muse

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