Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your emotions, be able to appropriately label them, and understand how this motivates your behaviors. This also applies to others’ emotions and how they impact you. Many of us were not taught emotional intelligence in school or from our families because it is not socially accepted. Our emotions are something that we bury deep inside rather than talk about. But without emotional intelligence, our relationships suffer, and we pass on the dysfunction to the next generation by not modeling appropriate behaviors. Since we don’t see others displaying emotional intelligence, dealing with our emotions becomes something we fear. But learning this is as easy as A-B-C!
The ABC’s of Emotional Intelligence
A: Adversity – events and experiences that create a feeling
B: Behavior – your response to how you feel about what is happening (or has happened to you in the past)
C: Consequence – the result of your response to the adversity
Putting the Pieces Together
This sounds like a simple process, but is very powerful when we take the time to reflect on what is going on at a deeper level. Some questions to ask yourself during this reflection process are:
- What are my thoughts about the adversity/event? Listen to your self-talk and examine if these thoughts are positive or negative.
- What do I feel immediately after thinking these thoughts? Do I feel good or bad?
- Are my thoughts serving me, or harming me?
- What are the consequences of my thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors? Are they getting me my desired outcomes?
Not only do we need to practice understanding our own emotions and how they impact our behaviors, we need to critically look at others’ behaviors and understand how their emotions have motivated them. This helps us to resolve conflict, and also helps us to not take their words or actions personally.
Alfred Adler, creator of Adlerian Psychology, coined the term “inferiority complex”. He believed that the main motivating force behind our thoughts and actions is an attempt to not feel inferior. If our early experiences taught us that we are inferior in some way, such as inattentive parents, abuse or neglect, or other painful adversities, then we see the world through this filter, and everything will be an attempt to return to equilibrium where we feel in balance. If we do not examine our thoughts and feelings, then we will likely not understand our motivating forces. If we do not examine others’ motivating forces, than we will likely misinterpret their behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Try asking yourself these questions the next time you are in conflict with someone:
- What would motivate this person to say/do/think this?
- Is this person saying/doing/thinking this so they can avoid feeling inferior?
- What thoughts and behaviors of mine are an attempt at not feeling inferior?
- Where does my feeling of inferiority come from? Where could their feeling of inferiority come from?
Validating ourselves and others is a great way to end conflict. In order to validate yourself or others, you need to be aware of how you feel and how others are likely feeling based on the information you learned from doing your ABC’s. If you need help with this, we offer Mind & Body Wellness Consultations that help you gain awareness and practice new tools to help you feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically. Call the office to schedule your 30 or 60 minute session, which can be done individually or with family members.
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