Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence?

What is it and how do we improve it?

We are all unique, all of our personalities are different and we have differing wants and needs. 

Some people have the ability to make you feel at ease as soon as you meet them, in any situation, either social or professional.

Others, not so much. 

Who are the people who we’re inclined to feel at ease with, and who we find ourselves gravitating toward?

They tend to be people with a great deal of emotional  intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI), regarded as being more important than IQ, is a complex quality. However, it can be learned.

EI is key to relating well to others; awareness of your own actions and feelings and how they affect others.

It definitely helps you to go through life more easily than someone who is quick to anger, gets upset or refuses to view themselves honestly.

Emotional Intelligence is

The ability to identify and therefore understand your emotions

Knowing how to manage your emotions in a positive way in order to

  • relieve stress
  • communicate effectively
  • diffuse conflicts

The ability to recognise what others are experiencing emotionally. It therefore allows you to understand and manage relationships effectively.

A process that, although non-verbal, will inform your thinking and influence how you connect.

There are several elements that define emotional intelligence:

Self Awareness

Being honest with yourself and acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses.

Understand your own emotions and therefore trust your intuition.

Be in control yourself rather than controlled by your feelings. 

Self Regulation 

Be able to control your emotions and consequently resist being impulsive.

People who self-regulate will think before acting,  don’t jump in with both feet and learn how to say no.

Empathy

Learning how to identify the wants and needs of others is especially relevant . People with empathy don’t rush to judge or stereotype.

Be able to recognise the feelings of others helps relationship skills.

Motivation

A high level of motivation leads to being productive, effective, hence able to enjoy life’s challenges.  

Social Skills

People with strong social skills are easy to talk to. People with good social skills find the building and maintaining of relationships easy and pleasurable.

They are keen to develop others and view a team achievement as more important than their own individual success.

How can you improve your Emotional Intelligence?

Pay attention to your emotions, they are valid. Learn to recognise them.

When you make decisions, integrate your emotions into the process.

Be present. Be here.  Don’t plan ahead or look behind.

Be aware of your body language and the signals you send others.

Happiness

Happiness comes in so many different guises that its really difficult to pin down exactly what makes up happy.

Unhappiness, well we know this immediately. We know what it looks and feels like. We know when it has us in it’s grasp.

Studies show that happiness has little to do with our own life circumstances. This is because happiness is mainly under our control. We synthesise it ourselves. So we either create it or we don’t.

Happiness is a product of our outlook on life.

Happiness – Learn What Makes You Happy

Discovering what works for you is of the utmost importance! Making happiness for yourself is good for your health as well as your performance in all areas of life. 

Here are just a few points, they may seem glaringly obvious but it’s surprising how much difference each one can make to our general happiness.

Exercise (I know I’ve been here before but it’s so important!) 

Movement, even a ten minute walk, lifts the mood and reduces anxiety, it is good for your head as well as your body.   

Maintaining your personal values.

Heeding your moral compass and standing your ground, in all of your relationships will therefore prevent feelings of regret and dissatisfaction.

Don’t worry about things beyond your controlThere is a huge difference between being informed about/understanding world events and worrying about them. 

Sleeping wellThe restorative power of sleep is well documented. We all know how lacklustre we feel if we don’t have enough sleep. 

When you’re asleep your brain literally detoxes and  recharges itself after the day’s activities. 

Not making sleep a priority means stress hormone levels rise and energy, motivation and memory all reduce. 

Improve your emotional intelligence.

Happy people do tend to have emotional intelligence as part of their skill set. Here’s a great link showing the importance of EI. 

Believe in the future.

Collect happiness memories but don’t fall into the trap of magnifying past pleasures so much that the present feels poor. Don’t lose faith in the promise of the future, you can out perform past experiences and as a result be happier.

Believe that the best is yet to come. 

Future Anxiety

Future Anxiety – do you live in the future?

I do. Sometimes. We all do, sometimes.

I used to live there much more, with all of the things I would have as well as all the places I would visit, the houses I would live in. There was a big long list in my head. 

I was very ambitious; I still am truth be told, but I had a slowly dawning realisation that I was almost solely focused on the future.

What I would do there? What things would I have there? 

The more plans I made and goals I set, I realised that my overall feeling was future anxiety:

This is future anxiety – ‘Today, this hour, this minute, is not good enough. I have none of the things I want and am working towards, therefore I’m not happy. Also I won’t be happy until I achieve a long (and possibly never ending) list of ‘wants’

You can see that I was blind to everything that I already have.

Can we be happy with what we already have?

Making a conscious effort in addition to realise just how beautiful life already is, bringing awareness to the ‘little things’ helped me become happier.

Five Minutes to Happiness” (Maxwell Maltz) was first published in 1962. A book written to help us learn the art of being happy.

Since then, many pages have been written about how we can be happier.  

The main gist is focusing on the good stuff, appreciating that which you have and being grateful for it. 

Making a list of just five things you’re grateful for may seem an odd way to help future anxiety. It’s not about what’s on the list, don’t judge yourself. It could be chocolate ice-cream, it could also be knowing that you’re family is fit and well. 

Just come up with five things

A nice meal maybe – it might’ve been a great salad or an enormous burger- remember not to judge.

No rain today.

Walking through the park first thing this morning perhaps.

Meeting a friend, for a particularly great cup of coffee.

Your health – even if you have a bad cold, perhaps you can be grateful that it’s not worse!

In addition, studies have shown that after making a nightly list for just one week happiness grows.

By doing this small, simple exercise you are retraining your brain to notice the good things, the positives. 

You start to look out for them as well as register them when they happen. 

Then you can enjoy and appreciate them all over again when you add them to your list. 

Caffeine panic

Caffeine panic – about 10 years ago now I cut caffeine from my diet.

Apart from a three day headache there seemed little effect at the time but I did it because I believed it would make things calmer in the long run, and on reflection, it did.

Although I can’t remember the hour or the day things felt different, they do.

It’s conspicuous by its absence caffeine.

Most people ingest a couple of hundred milligrams of this stimulant each day. The jury is out on what are the best levels, but as with many things, I think it depends on the individual.

For the anxious, it can make things a lot worse, and the anxious individual’s sensitivity is heightened.

This happens because caffeine mimics panic symptoms, it can make you jittery, nervous, filled with dread, irritable and restless. Caffeine can actually induce panic attacks.

Caffeine panic – It was this feeling of empty uneasiness and restlessness that I wondered about, and what had been causing it.

That’s the feeling that years later I no longer carry around with me.

Some symptoms of a Panic Attack include sweating, fast or irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, digestive issues. Also, it can bring on a feeling of dread, unreality, pins and needles, even chest pain. (APA, 2014)

Guess what? Caffeine can cause fast or irregular heartbeat, diarrhoea, racing thoughts, fast breathing, nausea, sweating… you get the picture, I’m sure.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world. This is why we pay so much for it in Starbucks. It makes you alert, keeps you awake.

It can be natural or synthetic and is found in some unlikely foods and drinks, so if you are worried about caffeine panic and are anxious, then perhaps look at your consumption of chocolate, coffee, cola, tea and medicines and start to see where it is (Lucozade anyone?).

Are you struggling with anxiety, panic or stress levels?

Maybe have a look at whether that pick-me-up little helper is actually a part of the issue

 

Perfectionism or excellence

Perfectionism or excellence, that is the question….

Perfectionism or excellence is a choice.

While perfectionism can drive you towards fantastic achievements. Perfectionism can help to provide you with the motivation to keep going until you attain your goal:
Giving the perfect presentation
Doing the perfect job
Baking the perfect birthday cake
Perfectionism can really help you sustain the energy levels you need to reach your own personal challenge.

But pressure and anxiety all build when you try to be the perfect person.

Perfectionism is within you and therefore under your control.
Striving for perfectionism within yourself can lead to anxiety as you try to live up to your own expectations or how you perceive others’ expectations of you.
You will always be not quite there, not quite good enough, simply because the perfect person doesn’t exist.

Cakes, jobs and presentations are all measurable, people aren’t.

People make mistakes
People have imperfections

It’s part of what makes us human. Mistakes help us to learn.

Perfectionism, pressure, anxiety can take an enormous toll on you and your life in general.

You fear success because of the fear of maintaining success.
Fearing mistakes can be due to the fear of losing respect from others as well as yourself.
Fear of failure can mean that you never set yourself goals. Or setting goals so high as to be unattainable.
Being constantly aware and reminding yourself of your weaknesses, imperfections and failures.

Be Excellent Instead Of Perfect
Improving yourself can be an enjoyable journey.
Being great at something is an enormous achievement.
Take yourself (and life) a little less seriously, forgive yourself, be gentle with yourself.

Set small, achievable goals.
Reward yourself.
Be aware of the influence of social programming – social media, TV programmes, magazine articles.
Making the effort to change is an achievement in itself.
Just by being born, you literally won the race!

Therapy Ethics

 Therapy Ethics is a wide subject.

In the last post from my presentation at the NCHP conference we were talking about memory. Memory is not some ethereal concept, but is made up of specific neurons in the brain.

I work with a particularly scientific client, and  this principle opens up the idea that she is not stuck with a memory for life.

Memories change, re-frame.

Memory is malleable.

This introduces a sense of possibility and with unhelpful memories.

If things haven’t gone the way the client hoped, you’re often dealing with their attachment to how ‘it should have been’ .

Breaking the attachment to the memory (because it may not be entirely accurate) attaches the problem to the memory and not the client.

I’m not blind to the juxtaposition here with the person centred concept of self-actualisation and that the client is the expert in their problem.

I believe both these principles entirely but as with all things sometimes a perspective doesn’t work, and we need more creative solutions.

It’s strange to me too, that in therapy the idea of intervention against natural process is such a minefield

There is this idea that any sense of change in the client that they didn’t initiate themselves is somehow unethical. We do however change everything around us all the time.

We make different types of plants and foods by modification. .

It’s a complex ethical issue, and we will all have our standpoints. Putting male cells into a female body however is a different story when you’re doing it in the context of a bone marrow transplant to save someone’s life from cancer.

There always consequences to acting and there are always consequences to not doing anything.

All I am suggesting here is let’s not be hypocritical. Therapy Ethics is a lens.

Therapy Ethics are important when clients come to us as therapists to change, for us to help them change.

We work in an idiographic way of course, but change is nevertheless the brief. People will always be self-organising, adjusting to minimise discomfort but there are times when that isn’t enough on its own.

In Western medicine, we celebrate advancements and ways of changing things. One day we will beat cancer.

Will anybody be saying that we should have left that process to nature?

All I am suggesting is that we fit the methodology to the client.

 

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying.

The impact of workplace bullying increases stress, anxiety and depression. It can have a major effect on home life and take a toll on relationships too.

Bullying in the workplace and uncomfortable work situations can cause upset and turbulence at home. As a result stress levels rise, sleep is disturbed, symptoms of anxiety and depression increase.

Maybe it’s difficult to discuss work related issues at home because:

  • You may convince yourself that you can hide your feelings from your partner.
  • The bully has made you feel responsible for the situation and you don’t want to share your experiences.
  • You feel that your partner will not be supportive and as a result will probably blame you for bringing the situation on yourself.

It is very likely that increased stress and anxiety from workplace bullying will bring about a noticeable personality change and your partner will realise that something is wrong.

  • Frayed temper due to worry and bottled up feelings may mean that bullying in the workplace causes you to lash out at those around you.
  • There may be financial worries hence making you feel lucky to have a job at all.

Your partner could be incredibly supportive and help fight with you end the bullying. Finding out that a loved one is suffering bullying in the workplace is upsetting, especially if it has been kept secret.

Emotional health and personal relationships may be under enormous strain due to bullying in the workplace increased stress, anxiety and depression.

It’s really important to look after you

  • Keeping a diary will serve as a written account of events and also help you express how you’re feeling.
  • Taking some time off work may help you feel calmer. Don’t feel guilty about doing this; bullying in the workplace is not acceptable.
  • Listen to your body, it is speaking to you. It may be worthwhile booking a check-up with your GP.
  • Exercise is proven to release stress and anxiety and need not be expensive. A swim, walk or bike ride are all great stress relievers
  • Talk to a UKCP therapist (had to slip it in somewhere)

Relaxation Ease Depression

Relaxation ease depression and make yourself feel better.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that sadness and depression are one and the same.

Sadness is a natural, normal emotion that comes and goes.

Although feeling sad and cheerless is an unhappy state, it usually passes.

Depression isn’t sadness.

Depression is constant.

It can last for a period of weeks, months or even years.

Willpower alone won’t overcome depression, however, there are a number of ways that the methods of relaxation ease depression symptoms and hopeless feelings.

Connection – resist isolating yourself and talk to a trusted person like a family member, friend or therapist This can help make problems feel easier.

Exercise – the link between exercise and feeling good is well established. Exercise doesn’t have to mean joining a gym; a brisk walk has been shown to improve mood and positively affect symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Relaxation – Anything that makes you unwind and feel good will benefit your emotional health

Again – for many of us relaxing may simply mean flopping on the sofa and maybe watching the TV, that may feel relaxing, but it doesn’t reduce the effects of stress.

These techniques can all help to relieve stress because they make you feel relaxed and hopeful.

  • Deep breathingand here’s how.
  • Guided imagery – remember imagination is stronger than will.
  • Yoga– Exercise and connection – maybe take a class

Find techniques that suit you, a massage or pedicure may be good for some but stressful for others.

Make a little time each day for something that you look forward to – like a bubble bath or a walk

These are useful ways to show how exercise and relaxation ease depression, of course, a therapist will help you to improve your symptoms and you should seek out a suitable therapist through UKCP.

 

Fearing Anxiety

Fearing Anxiety comes from how we shape reality. Our focus determines our reality, change the focus and as a result, change the reality.

You see,  your fear can  distort your reality. When we focus on avoiding uncertainty, we skew our logic, taking anything over dreaded uncertainty.

The good news is that you can create your reality.

Fearing anxiety makes the things you dread seem like things you know. We assume rather than reasoning.

As therapists, one word we use for this is ‘Awfulising’.

Fearing anxiety changes uncertainty from possibility to threat. The fear of fear works its way deep inside and prevents us from critical balanced thinking, often when we need that ability most. It blurs our ability to think rationally with emotion, The Chimp in our minds is in charge.

Fear can also make you inactive when there is an opportune moment, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is a fictional version of the world born of and bred by fear, but it isn’t always the reality.

Confronting fearing anxiety behaviour within ourselves is key to relief from it and here are some useful tools:

Identifying assumptions  helps, what is real and what is assumed on the basis of the fear?

When is the poisoned parrot on your shoulder feeds negativity into your ears, silence it.

Are you rationalising? justifying? projecting beliefs onto unrelated situations, or simply making excuses?

Do you notice yourself jumping to conclusions while stuck in those familiar shortcuts to them?

Are you seeing fiction as truth?

Are you thankful for what you do have, or struggling because you’re counting curses rather than blessings? Can you identify the difference between your strengths and your weaknesses, and can you live with your weaknesses?

Can you let go of your pain or are you identified by yourself (or others) due to it?

Are you building your own reality from guesses and maybe untruths, or your fears?

Most importantly, what are you missing out on?

Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy aren’t magic wands, they’re spades, hard work in therapy challenges the above.

You as client do a job and so does the therapist, if the therapeutic relationship is strong then results are best when the right therapist, right client and right time coincide.

Using the questions above, and with professional focused help, you can identify the negative patterns in your thinking and begin work to check them out, perhaps challenge them…

… and maybe change them.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Support Bolton

Anxiety Support Bolton is a resource to help understand anxiety from experiences and feedback of clients in Bolton whose anxiety I work with. See other resources here.

Perhaps a sense of interior discomfort or a feeling that their bodies are troubled by physical warning signs, it leads to the same outcome.

In trying to gain control, they can ignore the gut feelings and avoid internal awareness which can mean they hide within and from themselves.

Ignoring these feelings leads as a result to secondary feelings of confusion, and shame. That can mean closing off or panic symptoms because any sensory change makes them feel like a “little boat on a big sea”.

The result can be a fear of fear itself.

Fear comes from a primitive response to a threat where escape is difficult, impossible or embarrassing.

Perhaps we’re stuck on motorways, in planes, in meetings or in crowds.

Relief comes not just from external aids such as drugs, but more helpfully from changing how we feel by how we think, or react subconsciously.

Such fear is no respecter of intelligence, creativity, gender or status.

However it does have common threads.

The sufferer’s field of vision is probably inward not outward.

It can cause people to freeze.

Everything can suddenly seem blurry.

Making decisions, even simple ones is hard.

We can feel self-conscious.

Maybe it comes from the need to please others or conform. Perhaps fatigue, repressed emotions, setting the bar too high or too much responsibility.

Some of the feelings can include shame, self-blame, or frustration at being trapped in a repeating cycle.

In all the years, we haven’t made enough progress to break this negative mind/body link.

Psychology can explain  but those primitive parts of the brain don’t switch off so easily.

By being over-vigilant and reacting to inappropriate or misunderstood danger signals, we see danger where there isn’t any.

We become overwhelmed and therefore we dread.

We don’t feel fully alive, our senses work overtime but feel dulled, the body keeps a score.

Language, and the Talking-Cure of therapy is our solution in Anxiety Support Bolton.

By communicating, learning to move back into our inner selves and finding meaning, we can make some sense

In conclusion, We can find our peace.