Pillar 3 – Emotional Intelligence
Exercise 1 – Nurturing your “Inner Self
I want you to admit the truth now . . . Is there a little baby or kid inside you that wants others sympathy and care? Do you sometimes wish that someone would feel sorry for you and even take care of you?
If you had the choice, which would you prefer? To be taken care of and felt sorry for, with someone to speak for you and represent you.
– or –
To be healthy and as full of life as a brave and strong warrior—ready to take on any challenge while you are busy caring for, protecting and speaking for yourself and those in need?
Think about each and what it is you really wish for. Is it perhaps a bit of both?
So now I want you to start GIVING YOURSELF all the sympathy and care you feel you need. Be your own devoted and loving parent for as long as you need to, in your mind and in your life.
If you need to do something you have been putting off to take care of yourself, go ahead and do it!
In your mind, hold the sad baby or child that is inside you and comfort it. I want you to give yourself all the love you crave both in real life and in your imagination!
If you have an addiction like smoking or drinking, go and buy yourself the most nutritious food that you like and some omega three fish oil and some other vitamins and food you know is good for you.
If you don’t know about taking care of yourself like this ask someone you know who is really healthy who does.
If you had a sad baby or child left on your doorstep, how would you feed it? Would you give it drugs and cigarettes and alcohol? No, you wouldn’t. You would want to give this child the best food you could afford, especially if that baby was you! Keep yourself warm and make the rooms in your life where you spend time cheerful with flowers, plants or even a nice pet.
Do this all in your mind first, here and now, imagining this fully until you start feeling better.
Then ask yourself what else you want and give that to yourself in your imagination as well. Keep on going until you feel completely at peace and there is nothing more you need. Don’t worry about whether what you want is realistic or not, in your imagination you can give yourself anything!
Next, start doing all the things you can in real life to love and take care of yourself while looking forward to being the strong and capable person you really are, ready and able to help others because you know how to care for yourself.
Take all the time you need with this in your imagination and in your real life. No one is going to respect you if you are looking for sympathy from others but not taking care of yourself! If there are things you feel you need that you cannot give yourself in your life right now, go ahead and take time and give them to yourself in your mind. Give yourself all that you long for and crave in your imagination (and in real life when you can) and take the time to enjoy it!
Exercise 2 – Identifying your Emotions
This exercise is very simple but very powerful.
I want you to examine your recent history with your partner and identify all of your emotions and theirs, and keep a diary of these, naming the emotions and looking for underlying emotions that you may have missed in the encounter.
E.g. I was happy when we went for a walk, but then Tim became irritated and angry when I asked about his work. This made me resentful because he would not talk about why he reacted that way and started blaming me, saying that it was me who sounded annoyed with him. I felt frustrated because I could see no way to solve this situation. Now, however,
since thinking about it, I think perhaps his anger was really fear and beneath that fear was perhaps a feeling of inadequacy? Things might be bad at work and his job might even be on the line.
I think I might ask him in a more sensitive manner if everything is OK (after building trust and rapport first).
Tim may get angry when work is brought up again, and this may confirm that there is a problem there that may take some time and trust to address.
Solving all disputes is not the issue in this exercise (but you may find that it helps). The main thing is you learn to better identify and name your and your partner’s emotions.
Start your diary of emotions adding as many pages as you need.
Exercise 3 – Learning from Anger
I want you to do this exercise whether you have a bad temper or not – because this is as much about identifying what makes you angry and what that is trying to teach you, as it is about controlling your anger.
This task is really very simple but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. If getting a grip on your anger in the heat of the moment is challenging please know that just like lifting weights, exercising this self-control may be hard, but it will make you stronger. If you feel yourself wanting to explode in anger at someone I want you to think, “Now is the time I have a chance to practice self-control.”
What I want you to do in this exercise is to stop and write down what made you angry—every time you feel it from now on.
I want you to do this as soon as possible after you first get angry and try to remember the very first thing that triggered it, not the stuff you thought of after you were upset. (Add as many pages as you need.)
I also want you to start learning to disengage when you feel your anger coming on. Say, “I gotta go” or “I will talk to you later—I need to cool off”—or whatever you have to do to stop yourself acting on your anger in the moment. Again then make sure that you write down what upset you.
I then want you to practice self-soothing. You can take a walk under some trees or do anything you enjoy but you need to let go of the anger and not think about it at all.
Once you are totally calm (which may take a couple of days, so please don’t rush it) I want you to look at what upset you and think about what needs to be done about it. You may need to add this situation to Exercise 3, pillar 2, if it is something that happens often, and start working on a new and better comeback line to use in this situation next time. You may also need to see if there may be a limit you need to set.
For instance, if your partner has been irresponsible with your money, you may need to see the bank about separating your joint finances or you may need to do our “Personal Bill of Rights Exercise” above.
You may also need to spend some time letting go and forgiving a grievance you are holding onto from the past. Whatever the situation that angered you, this emotion is trying to tell you something and you need to pay attention. Not in the heat of the moment when your ‘hare brain’ (which will usually tell you to do stupid things) is talking to you, but later when your ‘tortoise brain’ is working again after you have calmed down.
Taking action on your anger should not involve you using anger to try to set the limit. This won’t work, your anger was the message but it is not a very useful tool. The action you need to take needs to be something unemotional that will stop the need for you to get angry about this again.
Exercise 4 – Let Your Emotions Guide the Goals You Choose
Take some time and remember what situations in your life have made you feel happy and have also given your life meaning. I also want you to remember situations that regularly make you feel angry or bad.
Use these recollections to start setting better goals for yourself. How are the things you are working towards now really going to make you feel?
Exercise 5 – Empathy
Do the quiz here https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/ei_quiz/take_quiz to help you learn to identify facial expressions.
Practice as often as needed to get all the answers right.
Once you have mastered these skills with this quiz, respectfully practice being perceptive with your family and friends.
In face-to-face interactions, notice their facial expressions and be sensitive to what emotions may be behind these.
As your judgment improves, try to stay open to various possibilities for what the expressions may mean. Interpret kindly and allow your improved skill to build your sense of empathy with your friends and family and the emotions they might be experiencing.
Exercising these skills will help you become more interested in the people around you.
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