Emotional Intelligence. . .

Emotional intelligence (EI) is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can recognize their own emotions and those of others, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, and adjust emotions to adapt to environments.

Look to yourself first. Our system be it family, friends or everyone is made up of interdependent individuals, but that doesn’t mean you can blame others for the way you are today, any more than you can hold your mate and children responsible for your personal happiness. Your best hope for fixing any problem is to attend your own emotional health. When you act on the belief that you have a right and obligation to assert your own emotional needs, others will notice that your emotional independence benefits not only you, but everyone, and they may quickly follow your lead. “Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.” – Buddha

Remember that consistency builds trust. Studies have shown that lack of consistency destroys trust. Off-and-on emotional awareness will cause those who love and depend on you, especially children, to get confused and frightened. That’s why it’s so important to keep your awareness and presence active.

Remember that knowing people all your life doesn’t mean understanding them. “I knew you when…” doesn’t mean I know you now, no matter how much I’ve always loved you. We all change, and yet each of us seems to only see change in ourselves. Empathy, allows us to gently steer away from stagnant patterns of interaction by modeling the attention you’d like to give and receive. When you’re with others, don’t automatically seek the conversational refuge of talking over old times. Ask what’s new and show that you really care by eliciting details and then listening with your body and mind.

Watch out for destructive emotional memories. Catching your thirty-year-old self responding to a parent in the voice of the five-year-old you can make you feel weak and frustrated. With emotional intelligence you don’t need to keep getting snared by emotional memories. Whenever you feel out of control with family—whether it’s kicking yourself for acting like a kid with your parents or agonizing over where the anger you’re dumping on others is coming from—take a moment to reflect on the memories that are imposing on your behavior today.

Cherish every stage of life in all. No matter how well we understand that it can’t happen, we often want others to stay the way they are, or grow with us in our own patterns and ways. The best to accept that fact emotionally, is to embrace change. Accept the natural fear that our aging evokes but use your emotional awareness and empathy to figure out how you can cherish this moment for its unique qualities. What can you and others share now that wasn’t possible in the past? Can you keep having fun and make sure everyone still feels useful and worthy in even though roles and responsibilities must be altered?

If you’re not sure what will work, ask. Fully accepting your fear of change can make it easier to broach subjects that you may have considered awkward in the past. Maybe your others are just waiting for your cue. Feel them out. In a flexible, healthy dynamic, change is just one of the many opportunities you have to enrich one another.

Peace and Love, Jim


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