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Emotional Intelligence: Rising Strong

Welcome beauties! The last few weeks have been a huge investment in traveling, research and training, planning, decision making, family stuff, and figuring out health habits. I’ve been able to move forward in all those huge areas, and I’m in this space of trying to make it all sustainable and avoid the all too familiar post-productivity crash… Anybody else?

Along with all this great growth I’ve been reading some fabulous books written by amazing women who just want to empower the world. One was a scrappy kind of book about emotional intelligence from the queen of the subject, Brené Brown. While I’m not exactly a Brené Brown groupie, this one had some powerful and change inspiring ideas that I had to bring to this site for our mutual benefit.

The book is Rising Strong, and from the introduction it lays down strategies to grapple with emotions in tough situations and “rise strong” on the other side of the fight, armed with new understanding of ourselves and a plan for future run-ins. This isn’t a book report or an advertisement, but I learned some new and important ideas that are just too good not to share.

In order to “rise strong” you first have to be down, right? The entire book is an encouragement to learn to sit in the “down” part and grapple with the stuff that comes out there. In a world that’s always turned on, plugged in, logged on, and multi-tasking, exploring our emotions is usually far from a priority. We interact with someone, feel something hot and heart beat increasing, decide it’s anger, and then carry that ascribed emotion into the next part of our day. If the next part of our day requires something other than “anger” we have to just stuff that one down to do what we have to do. Then we come to the end of the day with a huge tangle of emotional loose ends that we ignore as we grab a piece of cake and a beer and turn on the TV.

A more powerful way of living is to instead allow that interaction to bring about a feeling and then explore it. Figure out what it really is and where it originates in your story. So you’re feeling “angry”. Is it really anger, or is that just the first feeling that comes to mind that feels kind of similar? I know my anger is often really impatience, feeling that others should have priorities similar to mine, or a reaction to offset the uncomfortable feeling of inferiority. Inferiority, selfishness and impatience are so very different to anger, and very different in how to address them!

Brené’s method is to think of these emotional narratives as stories that you are telling yourself. Work to determine the story behind the emotion and to understand the other side, or rewrite the story entirely. What story is your brain telling you to make you feel the way you feel? When I feel frustrated with my coworkers the story I’m usually telling is something like “She does things that aren’t her job and then I have to cover for her!”. Translation: “she has different priorities than me and I don’t like when that means I have to change my priorities for her”, or maybe “She has a more relaxed and enjoyable way of doing this job. I wish I could be like that”. Those are very different stories, with a much different outcome. I could spend weeks in the first story, or I could use another version of the story to inform a plan of action. How far you explore is up to you, but in my experience anything other than the knee-jerk reaction first story is going to have a more positive result all around.

I’m not an expert. I get angry and don’t take the time to figure out why. Sometimes I’m lazy for no reason and I “can’t be bothered”. But the more I read books like this, and find people who have experience in working through this stuff and coming out better on the other side, the more I realize that maybe it is worth it. Maybe I can do the things I want to do, feel the way I want to feel and be happier in my daily life. Since I’ve been trying it, it’s been working. It might not change your life, but it might make it a little better. And that’s the only reason I’m here ❤

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