On Friday, I went to a training on emotional intelligence, and I have to say that it was really interesting. I’d taken a quiz on emotional intelligence prior to this (check out http://www.queendom.com/) and scored not nearly as well as I would have thought, although firmly within the bell curve. One of the results of the training was to make a contract with ourselves (we were given contracts and the trainer is going to follow up with us to hear about the results) and try to do one thing differently for a month to improve our emotional intelligence. I got a lot of value out of the session, so I thought I’d try and pass some of it on.
Regarding the monthly contract, I chose to allow my emotions to influence my decisions, which I anticipate will be pretty interesting. Sometimes I get really frustrated or angry and then my emotions make my decisions for me (which is different, I think, from letting your emotions influence your decisions), and the rest of the time I pretty much disregard my emotions completely. I’m looking forward to the idea of taking a balanced approach.
Something else that we talked about quite a bit was that that anytime you find yourself angry at someone else, one of the most productive things that you can do is to take a step back and ask yourself what is going on with you, that you would be so angry. Since I believe that lots of emotions, such as anger, are really something you are choosing to engage in (rather than something that simply happens to you) I thought that the way our trainer broke it down was really helpful:
- Anger is generally experienced when an
- Expectation that we have isn’t met, and that expectation is based on a
- Need that we feel in order to assuage some kind of
- Fear that we have.
When it’s something like getting cut off on the freeway, the best way to deal with the anger is to acknowledge the fear behind it – that you are going to be in a car accident and get hurt, or hurt someone else. In interpersonal relationships, a better way to deal with anger is to get to the bottom of it, and then find out ways to meet those needs/fears/expectations in the future so that you don’t have that reaction. It is also always helpful to assume that the other party has the best intentions, and to be very honest about your fear and what you need/expect when you find yourself angry, because this helps the other person to assume the best of you, and motivates that person to find a compromise that will lead to an outcome that everyone can be happy with.
Personally, I know that if you boil them down to the fear, most of the things that make me angry are based on the fear that if I am not controlling the outcome of basically everything that I come into contact with, something terrible will happen. The fact of the matter is that I can’t control everything, especially other people’s actions, especially if those other people are trying to control things because they have the same thing I do. So I have to learn to let go a bit.
This weekend? I let go by letting Jake help me with some cooking (I made layered vegetables and seitan in homemade barbecue sauce for dinner and a strawberry-rhubarb crisp for dessert) and also letting him suggest some of our weekend activities (which basically boiled down to sex and playing catch with a football). I had a great time!
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