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8 Mindsets You Need To Have If You Want To Be Emotionally Intelligent

8 Mindsets You Need To Have If You Want To Be Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is defined as “the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior” [1].

When you are emotionally intelligent, not only can you understand people better, but you can relate to them on a deeper level. They also inherently like you because they feel like you understand them. Good EI leads to better relationships, promotions, and more customers in business because you communicate on the primary level of emotions – where all human actions begin.

Cultivating EI takes practice, but by adopting the proper beliefs and mindsets, you can reap the benefits. Here are several that you should start practicing, if you don’t already:

1. Connection is why we are all here, and what everyone desires. Everyone is a bit lonely.

This was stated by Brené Brown in her amazing book, Daring Greatly. One of the worst things for your health is isolation. Social isolation can have worse effects on your health than alcoholism and drug abuse.

Everyone wants to be heard, nobody wants to feel misunderstood or alone.

But just hanging out with a bunch of people doesn’t mean you feel heard. In fact, having a deep discussion for an hour with one person for the entire week might make more of a difference than just having beers and talking about the weather for days on end.

The problem in society today is that we have been conditioned to hide our deeper desires, feelings, fears, and thoughts. So, we cover them up with lighter topics. But if these deeper feelings never get heard or addressed, not only can they lead to very negative behaviors that attempt to cover them up, but also anxiety, depression, and sadness.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with light conversation! But, if something is troubling you, you should talk to a trusted person (good friend, family, therapist, religious advisor) about it. Self-worth, abandonment, feelings of loss, isolation, destiny, and the reason why you were put on the Earth are common themes worth discussing.

In that sense, as someone who wants to be emotionally intelligent, you should always attempt to go “one level deeper”, Inception style, with whomever you talk to.

Why are they working at this job? Why are they with this person? What are their hopes, dreams, and desires?

You should try and connect with everyone you interact with. Not only will you feel better because you are feeding your connection desire as a human, but the other person will feel better too and appreciate you!

2. Empathy trumps everything.

If connection is so important and leads to so many amazing things, then empathy is essential for every single person in the world to get better at it. It’s the tool and guiding light the leads to connection and EI.

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The reason why empathy is so powerful is because it is defined as “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes” [2].

How do you connect with someone? Make them feel heard.

How do you make them feel heard? By showing that you understand some of what they are going through.

Sure, sometimes you might not have lost a loved one and can’t fathom what your friend is going through… But, is there a time when you felt immense sorrow and sadness? Can you live in that emotion with them?

You might never have been SUPER nervous for a date, but what about those times when you got anxious for all the tests you took? Can you feel that anxiety with them?

What about the highs of life too? Can you be happy with them as well, and not jealous?

In becoming emotionally intelligent, make sure not to mistake SYMPATHY (“Oh poor you for feeling that, I hope you feel better”) with EMPATHY (“I feel what you feel, we’ll do this together”). Most people hate sympathy, as it feels shallow. Watch this video to learn more about the difference (narrated by Brené Brown).

3. People, by default, are friendly and sociable.

Not to make people sound like robots with switches (*in robot voice* SET DEFAULT STATE TO FRIENDLY), but most people are fundamentally good. You should hold this belief because it will allow you to connect with people. You won’t be as afraid compared to if you assumed that people don’t want to be bothered or will chomp your head off if you talk to them.

Of course, a minority of people ARE defensive and mean by default. These are the people you want to stay away from.

4. Logic dictates nothing. Emotions drive all decisions and we use logic to justify the decisions.

Dan Ariely discusses this in Predictably Irrational. You and I believe we are logical creatures.

For example:

I decide to be with X because she has certain traits I like.

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You turn down a job offer because the pay is less and you like the money you have right now.

We don’t move to a new city because it doesn’t feel right, it’s far away, we have our friends here, and we already know the best place to get pizza.

Actually, we’re just BS’ing ourselves.

I decide to be with X because she makes me feel good, important, and loved. It hits on my abandonment trigger of not feeling loved enough as a kid, as she makes me feel supported and wanted. She supports my emotional needs and I enjoy supporting her too. I feel stronger.

You turn down the job offer because you are scared of not being able to afford new stuff/you might lose a sense of your identity that’s engrained in that stuff. You don’t want to start at a new position not knowing anyone (feelings of isolation) and not being that great at the position (feelings of self-worth and importance).

We don’t want to move to a new city because we’re scared of not being able to find good friends again (isolation), we’ve already established a routine of where the best food and gym are (security), and we’re just plain nervous about moving to a new place where we might not know anything, especially if it’s in a new culture! We prefer the comfort of the familiar.

By understanding the fact that people make emotionally-based decisions, you can begin to understand the deeper motivations of why they do certain things. And hopefully, you will discover why you might also be carrying out certain patterns or choices in life.

5. Life is 20% the events that occur to me, and 80% my interpretation of those events.

The funny thing about life is that you can draw whatever conclusion you want from events.

So the time you lost your job was actually the best thing that happened to you because it pushed you to pursue your dreams of starting your own business.

The time you broke up with a past girlfriend or boyfriend led you to the person you want to marry, and taught you what you did wrong/what you could do to improve in relationships.

You can choose to be optimistic given any situation, after an initial emotional impulse that might be negative. Of course, suppressing negative emotions doesn’t work and can kill you (storing negativity leads to anxiety, depression, disease, and premature death), but that doesn’t mean you have to live in them forever.

6. Meditation and mindfulness will save my life.

Some form of thought observation is necessary so that you don’t get pulled into a negative thought or emotional spiral.

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In the Vipassana tradition of meditation, the theory is taught that all of our emotional impulses begin as sensations in the body. For example, anxiety begins as the tightness in our chest, clenching in our jaw, and so on. This leads to thoughts saying “I don’t like this”, “I feel nervous”, and then subsequently, the emotion of anxiety.

But by training yourself to use some form of meditation or mindfulness, you can see thoughts for what they are…

Transient brain farts.

See, learning how to meditate shows us that if thoughts come and go, then we can’t be everything we think. And, we don’t have to identify or believe all of our thoughts. We can also input more positive thoughts into our heads on purpose, always seeing the glass half full, so to speak.

For example, in a situation where you don’t get as much work done as you want to, if you are a workaholic that expects A LOT of yourself and is also very hard on yourself (like me), you could have a thought that says “You suck. You should have worked harder and faster. You don’t deserve to relax, what’s wrong with you?

If you do that, you miss the other side of the story: “Hey, awesome job getting that much done. That was some heavy hitting and important stuff. We can always do the rest tomorrow, no big deal.

The difference in how you feel and how you treat yourself can literally add years to your life. You can save others’ lives. too — if you see them getting caught in negative habit patterns.

Meditation and mindfulness make you aware of your possibly unconscious thought patterns so you can begin unravelling them.

Get on it.

7. All things arise just to pass away, including emotions.

In Buddhism there is something called The Law Of Nature, which states that:

All things arise just to pass away.

Thoughts, emotions, events, people… Everything arises just to leave this world.

So negative thoughts aren’t a huge deal because they go away, eventually. Sadness eventually passes. You should know that an awesome event won’t last forever, and expect it. And the same with the emotion of happiness.

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Using this, though, you should become aware if there is a pattern that happens over and over. Do you have any consistent, negative thoughts? Do you always feel sad? Are you always hard on yourself?

This is one mistake people make when they think mindfulness will save them no matter what (there are actually two really common mistakes). 

Look into it.

8. Reflection is important, and making emotional decisions is a very poor idea. I need time to reflect if possible, and those feelings probably won’t seem like a big deal in the long run.

If you had one fight over something silly and because of the impulse of anger you decided to throw an entire relationship away, that’d be terrible. While all decisions are based on emotions, making decision based on impulsive feelings in the moment is ONE OF THE WORST THINGS YOU CAN DO.

It’s how a lot of slimy sales are done. Afterwards, when you feel a bit bad but can’t return the product or change your decision, you use logic justify it somehow via anything creative you can cling on to in order to convince yourself that it WAS actually a good decision!

But let’s say you don’t make a decision based on an impulse. Let’s say you broke up with someone because of consistent unhappiness, they treated you badly, and so on. Totally justified.

The break up really hurts in the moment and may hurt for months or years. You still loved that person.

But eventually, you will heal and be able to reflect on what went right or wrong. You will learn from it. Perhaps you can become friends with the person.

We draw meaning from the events in our life over time.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. – Steve Jobs

Realize that reflection of your life allows you to become stronger and see where you have been led. It teaches you how to be better. It builds up your emotional resilience. It makes you smarter.

And it makes you a stronger person.

References

[1]. Coleman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press.

[2]. Bellet, Paul S., and Michael J. Maloney (1991). “The importance of empathy as an interviewing skill in medicine“. JAMA 226 (13): 1831–1832.

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Last Updated on July 15, 2020

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

“Entitlement is an expression of conditional love. Nobody is ever entitled to your love. You always have a right to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being by removing yourself from toxic people and circumstances.” -Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

It’s not always obvious if you have someone toxic in your life. A toxic relationship is one that is harmful to you. A toxic person can create distress to the degree you feel inadequate and isolated. So, what makes a toxic person?

A toxic person has toxic behavior, meaning it’s not that the whole person is toxic[1]. It’s what they do that counts. Most toxic people run from accountability and misrepresent reality to you. They misrepresent your worth and your ability to heal from them can be stifled the longer you keep them in your life. You have a role to play with it as well; if your values are dismissed by them and you don’t act on it, you have allowed room for toxicity to grow.

When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel less than. You feel as though you are not worth anyone’s time or effort. You feel unheard, and sometimes you feel unsafe. You don’t feel good about yourself in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, friend, or family member.

You may stay in a toxic relationship for a number of reasons. You may believe yourself to be a burden, have a lack of boundaries, resist change, fear conflict, try to be a people pleaser, find yourself codependent, or are partially stuck in a pattern or unhealthy cycle of abuse.

Letting go of toxic people may not be easy. In order to do so, you have to know why or how they are toxic to you and read between the lines that they do not have your best interests in mind.

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Letting go of toxic people is hard because you are good and want to see the good in others. You think their apologies are authentic. You have trouble believing they are being dishonest. You don’t spend time healing from it. You get pulled back into the pain because you don’t want it to end. However, if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right.

You should walk away from a toxic person because you need to preserve your peace. You need to feel like yourself again. And you need better support.

Letting go of toxic people can involve four major steps.

1. Recognize the Red Flags

Red flags are signs a person is being toxic. It’s when someone shows characteristics that you should feel caution about. It’s when you feel any level of dissatisfaction and distrust. Trust your gut. When you recognize red flags, you can evaluate whether a person is trying to manipulate you or not. This gives you some level of control over what you allow in your life. The earlier you detect these behaviors, the better off you will be.

Red flags can include:

  • They always put themselves first.
  • They point out imperfections and sabotage your self-esteem.
  • You may feel drained or used when you’re around them.
  • What you give isn’t reciprocated. They don’t return the goodness you provide as a friend.
  • They ignore your boundaries and get angry when you tell them “no.”
  • You catch them in half truths or outright lies when you confront them about anything.
  • You are the villain; they are the victim.
  • Second chances always lead to repeated patterns of behavior.
  • They may engage in abuse.

2. Set Boundaries

There are emotional boundaries that one can set, but there are also physical ones[2]. You can leave any time. Setting boundaries is also an important part of self-care.

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You shouldn’t walk on eggshells. Tell them how you feel. Are they respecting you, fulfilling your needs, and listening to you? If not, it’s time to set up a healthy emotional distance and start letting go of toxic people around you.

There are levels to this. You have your inner circle, which could include family, and then you have acquaintances and strangers. If a toxic person is in your inner circle, it’s time to pull back and put up some boundaries for them to follow. If they can’t hear you out, you can cut off the connection completely.

You can give second chances, but you have to be careful. If someone knows they can get away with something, they will do it again. If there’s any chance for the relationship, they have to know not to cross certain lines.

3. Invest in Yourself

You deserve to know you are worthwhile. Try to remember that things will get better and that anything is possible. How do you do so? Invest in yourself.

This means self care, goal setting, surrounding yourself with positive support, and feeling a sense of peace. Your greatest ambition should be to love yourself. Without self-love, letting go of toxic people will be difficult.

Every relationship is a risk, but if you know yourself and what you will allow, toxic people will have less of a hold over you. If you are a giver or people pleaser, you are most at risk to being in a one-sided relationship. You shouldn’t be punished for caring, but sometimes trust needs to be earned. If you have self-love, you are treating yourself the best way possible. You know that others need to meet your standards; otherwise, they don’t get to be a part of your life.

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It’s possible that you can love yourself and still not see the signs. It can be difficult for some to be aware that toxic people exist. However,, if you know how much you mean to others in your life and what you are worth, you will be less likely to take on a relationship that is harmful to you or repeat negative patterns. Self-love is how we get out of toxic relationships, but it’s also how they never begin.

4. Know When Forgiveness Is Possible

There are times a person will prove their worth to you. They may make a mistake that makes them seem like a horrible person. They may forget to be good to you because of their own issues. They may just have no example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They may have an inflated ego that really comes from insecurity. The list goes on.

If they apologize, that’s a start. Look at their actions. Are they changing for the better because they really want to change or just seeming to in order to manipulate you? A person may control others with their image or perceived personality, but if you see through them, you may be able to discern the degree to which they are willing to be there for you.

If they start to do the right thing, you may begin to trust them again. Don’t start forgiving them until time has passed and you are sure there is growth, even if they show vulnerability or remorse. You can give a second chance if they truly have an awakening. Otherwise, it’s best to get out. Don’t let them walk all over you; let them walk out the door.

If you do give a second change and they still refuse to change, you have every right to remove them and continue the process of letting go of toxic people. The moment you even want to leave may also be a good time to get out. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to care for them.

Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger[3]. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You have to go back to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone. You don’t have to let them back in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you, not them. You don’t need that person in your life in order to forgive them, and if you give them a second chance, proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts

Recognize the red flags, set boundaries, invest in yourself, and know when forgiveness is possible. This is how you cope with a toxic person impacting your life. You have power in the direction of your life and the people who accompany you as you move forward. Use it.

If a person is worthwhile, they will prove themselves through their actions, not their words. If they cross certain lines that really harm you, you owe them nothing. You have every right to feel what you feel and to be upset. Honor your feelings and communicate them because it’ll only continue to keep happening if you don’t.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to take control. It’s time to live for yourself, not for what others say about you. It’s time to set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before. And most of all, it’s time to let go.

Resource reminder: A physically abusive relationship is ALWAYS toxic. There are resources for you. Always speak up.

If you are in such a cycle or domestic violence or abuse reach out for help. For example, there is The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) which can be reached at 1−800−799−7233. There are other ways to get help if you simply ask for it. 

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Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

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