Ask yourself this: If your emotional life was portrayed as a nuclear power plant, would it be described as a source of infinite, controlled, star-like power? Or a reactor that is poorly managed, prone to out-of-control, catastrophic meltdowns?
Our distinct mission within this series of articles is to guide you toward correctly harnessing the indefatigable strength and energy from within this inner emotional reservoir. In part one, we discussed how a lack of emotional awareness—and the consequential lack of emotional resiliency—becomes an albatross that prevents otherwise determined individuals from realizing their goals.
Conventional thinking on what make the human experience unique is framed around the functions of the neocortex, in particular how this region of the brain allows us to work things out in the future and learn from the past, to solve problems and create new realities. Though this is true, I personally believe that we humans have an equally rare gift to feel and make meaning through feeling. It’s within feelings, initiated by the experiences of life, where we can actualize deep learning. Just thinking something over doesn’t produce deep learning. Just thinking about a serious problem is like brushing a light coat of paint on a leaking roof—the problem isn’t remotely solved on a structural level. I believe deep learning occurs when we intently apply both thinking and feeling. Another way I like to put it is this: Emotional intelligence (EQ) is equally as important as cognitive intelligence (IQ). If you have one without the other then you are incomplete and will not “grow” in the developmental sense into your full potential.
Whether you agree with my thesis or not, I’m confident that you understand how emotional immaturity is a challenge at many levels. Consider individuals who allow their emotions to run wild through their life and life decisions, unleashing behavior that inevitably creates universal trust issues and painful regrets. For others, emotions are an abstract, vague concept, best left for “touchy-feely” types to fret over, and simply a distraction to be avoided by those who do the real work of the world. This latter emotional immaturity leads to the predominantly cold and heartless landscapes that are the politics and mega-business of today’s world.
At any rate, let’s get back on track with the objective of this blog series: To inspire you to develop your emotional intelligence, your EQ, and offer several means and methods to do so. Ultimately, I want you to understand how to embrace obstacles and turn them into opportunities, simultaneously experiencing the full range of emotions that the experience evokes. Rather than a life exclusively lived in the thin vapor of the intellect, experiencing life both with thought and feeling will allow you to access a vital dimensionality in the important things of life. Your emotions, or lack thereof, will no longer block the path toward success and happiness!
4 Steps to Emotional Power
Last week I put forth a simple 4-step process for developing emotional awareness and resiliency when confronted with an obstacle that evokes a negative response. Though the process is simple in form it is not easy to implement. So I’ve decided to review it again in this post and go deeper into the implementation process.
- Step 1: When an obstacle arises that delivers a damaging impact on the pursuit of your goals, you will naturally experience a negative “reactionary emotion.” But rather than just riding the wave of that first reactionary emotion, such as anger, you will learn to witness that reaction and then interdict it to seek the root emotion beneath it. For instance, if you experience a rush of anger at a perceived failure, you will learn to pause and observe that anger for a few moments. In those moments you will follow an opening, to another feeling or energy that lies beneath the surface anger, such as shame or fear. This step takes great courage, but without it emotional development just sits dormant, trapped in a loop to nowhere.
- Step 2: Next, you will explore that root emotion further in order to experience it more fully. This will cause the reactionary emotion to subside as you experience the energy of the root emotion. For instance, anger will reveal fear, or jealousy, and you now feel that root emotional acutely and painfully. The purpose of this step is to “get to the root” of the emotional problem so as to avoid the growth-stunting effects of denial and transference of emotional energy.
- Step 3: The third step also requires a gargantuan effort, so read this twice. You must now re-direct the energy of the debilitating root emotion, into a counterpart that is positive and empowering. So instead of focusing on the root fear, through intention you now focus on courageous action to overcome the obstacle. Rather than feeling the jealousy of not measuring up to someone else’s expectations, you concentrate on feeling a generosity toward them for their success and for being your teacher. Anger becomes determination and re-commitment to the task; while despair becomes surrender to the moment and appreciation of life’s ironies.
- Step 4: The final step is to engage the emergent positive root emotion with imagery and self-talk. This process supports the new emotion and continues to block the old and negative root emotion from re-emerging. This is best achieved through action. In fact, doubt can be eliminated by action alone. So you get moving, stand up, dust yourself off, end your pity party and get off to a fresh start by placing your focus on the team and on the team’s mission.
Early on the path to your emotional black belt, this sequence of actions will be choppy and awkward. Just keep at it. The ruts of your reactionary emotions are deeply ingrained, keeping us spellbound. However, as emotional awareness and control is earned, like a fullback grinding out three or four yards every carry, you will start to get it—you will begin to consistently identify when you are in the grip of their spell, get to the root of the issue, and then develop a new healthy emotion to guide you to ultimate success.
Focus on the Positive
Let’s close this blog by taking a quick look at negative emotions and positive correlates. In the left column below are a bunch of negative primary (reactionary and root) emotions that lead to failure and frustration. In the right column is a positive and empowering counterpart emotion that serves as a healthy expression of the same root energy. This is not an exhaustive list, but will give you a solid foundation of what emotional depth and range can look like.
Next week we will do some training on how to identify reactionary and root emotions and re-train them into the positive force for emotional intelligence that they are meant to be.
The formula for personal power in 2015 is:
EQ (Emotional Quotient) + IQ (Intellectual Quotient) = TQh (Total Quotient). Hooyah!
Happy New Year