emotional intelligence

Feeling Better

Feeling Better

It wasn’t until I stumbled clumsily toward a daily mindfulness practice in my mid-thirties that I discovered that there were ways I could get better at feeling my feelings.

Before intentionally working on my attentional skills, I had no idea how often I escalated my unpleasant feelings and zipped past the pleasant and subtler ones.

The kind of self-awareness that mindfulness exercise develops has helped me become more objective about my subjective experiences.

Focus on Emotionally Neutral Spots

Focus on Emotionally Neutral Spots

"Although emotional sensations can arise anywhere in the body, they are much more likely to arise in the belly, chest, throat, or face. These are the emotional hotspots in the body, the regions where emotional sensations can get huge. That means that other areas are much less likely to host gigantic emotional sensations, which turns out to be a useful and convenient thing."

~ Michael Taft

Feel Your Feelings for a Few Seconds

Feel Your Feelings for a Few Seconds

Thinking your way through unpleasant emotions takes time while a single repetition of any mindfulness exercise only takes a few seconds. The skills of attention strengthened by mindfulness practice enhance both the resolving of unpleasant emotions and the acceptance of them.  

Attention Training

Attention Training

"I think attentional skills are fundamentally under siege today. Never before in human history have there been so many seductive distractors in a person’s day, in a given hour, or in ten minutes. There are pingings and pop-ups and all kinds of sensory impingements on our attention that want to pull us away from what we’re trying to focus on."

~ Daniel Goleman

The Conversation IS the Relationship

"Our most valuable currency is not money, it's not IQ, it's not good looks, it's not charisma, it's not multiple degrees, fluency in three-letter acronyms, the ability to build a really cool PowerPoint deck...it is relationships. Emotional capital. And so, in my view  and I work with companies all over the world  the next frontier for exponential growth — whether it's an individual in his or her career or for an organization or for an entire industry — and the only sustainable competitive edge, unless you have a monopoly — lies in the area of human connectivity."

~ Susan Scott  

See also: 

A Battle of Arguments

 

Excerpt from "What Can You Learn about Persuasion from Hostage Negotiation?" a Barking Up the Wrong Tree interview with Chris Voss:

What are the most common mistakes people make when negotiating?

They neglect to pay attention to emotional factors, and they really neglect to listen.

I compare a lot of negotiations to dealing with a schizophrenic, because a schizophrenic’s always got a voice in his head talking to him which makes it very hard for him to listen to you.

Now most people in business negotiations, they approach the negotiation, and they’ve got firmly in their mind all of the arguments that support their position. So when they’re not talking, they’re thinking about their arguments, and when they are talking, they’re making their arguments. They view negotiation as a battle of arguments.

If while you’re making your argument, the only time the other side is silent is because they’re thinking about their own argument, they’ve got a voice in their head that’s talking to them. They’re not listening to you. When they’re making their argument to you, you’re thinking about your argument, that’s the voice in your head that’s talking to you. So it’s very much like dealing with a schizophrenic.

If your first objective in the negotiation, instead of making your argument, is to hear the other side out, that’s the only way you can quiet the voice in the other guy’s mind. But most people don’t do that. They don’t walk into a negotiation wanting to hear what the other side has to say. They walk into a negotiation wanting to make an argument. They don’t pay attention to emotions and they don’t listen.


See also:

Sticking with Your Future

"We tried to predict which cadets would stay in military training and which would drop out. We went to the National Spelling Bee and tried to predict which children would advance farthest in competition. We studied rookie teachers working in really tough neighborhoods, asking which teachers are still going to be here in teaching by the end of the school year, and of those, who will be the most effective at improving learning outcomes for their students? We partnered with private companies, asking, which of these salespeople is going to keep their jobs? And who's going to earn the most money?

In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn't social intelligence. It wasn't good looks, physical health, and it wasn't I.Q. 

It was grit.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."

~ Angela Lee Duckworth

See also:

 

 

Lost in a Challenge

"We're social animals, not rational animals. We emerge out of relationships, and we are deeply interpenetrated, one with another. And so when we see another person, we reenact in our own minds what we see in their minds. When we watch a car chase in a movie, it's almost as if we are subtly having a car chase. When we watch pornography, it's a little like having sex, though probably not as good. And we see this when lovers walk down the street, when a crowd in Egypt or Tunisia gets caught up in an emotional contagion, the deep interpenetration. And this revolution in who we are gives us a different way of seeing, I think, politics, a different way, most importantly, of seeing human capital...

...face-to-face groups are much smarter than groups that communicate electronically, because ninety  percent of our communication is non-verbal. And the effectiveness of a group is not determined by the IQ of the group; it's determined by how well they communicate, how often they take turns in conversation...

...The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task -- when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God's love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in lovewhen lovers feel fused."

~ David Brooks, from "The Social Animal," TED Talks, March 2011

See also: Brooks, D. (2011). The social animal: The hidden sources of love, character, and achievement. New York: Random House. 

The Emotions Didn't Change

Brigham and Women’s Hospital Neurosciences Research Center, Boston, March 2012

Excerpt from "Looking Back: My First Year as a Meditation Practitioner," by Kenji, Unready and Willing, June 2012: 

Ever since I started meditating regularly last year, one question I continued to ask myself was: “Am I happier?”

For the first three months, my answer was “no.” Contrary to my expectations, I often felt more emotional turmoil than I had before. It seemed as though any event, no matter how trivial, would set off a wave of depression, or sometimes an unstable rush of euphoria, the comedown from which was never fun. I’ve always considered myself to be emotionally sensitive, but this was ridiculous.

The reason for this intensification of emotions was not apparent to me until just recently. Much of it had to do with the meditation techniques that I practiced, techniques which were supposed to raise my awareness of every physical and emotional sensation, thus grounding my attention in my body and in the present moment. As a side-effect, it also made emotions feel stronger, and thus much harder to ignore.

Most every day, sometimes for one hour, oftentimes for two, I would sit on a cushion with my eyes closed and attend to any sensation, be it painful or pleasant, that manifested in my body, and would endeavor to remain detached from them. If a certain area in my lower back ached, for example, I focused all my attention on the ache, and tried to experience the pain without labeling it as either “good” or “bad.” In the clearest moments, thoughts and judgments about the pain became hushed and subdued to the point that I could regard the pain as nothing more than what it was: sensation. Although it wasn’t the goal, the pain itself would often subside not long thereafter.

Because I worked to improve my awareness of sensation, it was only natural that the physical sensations that characterize emotions like anxiety, sadness, or melancholy would be felt much more strongly than they had been before. Sometimes some small misfortune would trigger an unpleasant emotion and because I was more sensitive to this emotion, I felt as though meditation, rather than improving my overall sense of well-being, worsened it.

In reality, the emotions didn’t change. What changed was how I experienced them. The more I practiced, and the more I read about the practice, I realized that meditation was not meant to purge our minds of negative emotions or thought patterns, but rather meant to help us experience them without judgment. We were to let go of our resistance to pain at the deepest level and understand that we suffer not because pain is bad, but because our mind labels it as bad.

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A Trained Mind

"What I find most rewarding is how well Search Inside Yourself has worked for ordinary folks in a corporate setting right here in a modern society. If Search Inside Yourself had worked this well for people from traditionally meditative cultures doing intensive retreats in zendos or something, nobody would be too surprised. But these are ordinary Americans working in a high-stress environment with real lives and families and everything, and still, they can change their lives in just twenty hours of classroom time spread over seven weeks."

~ Chade-Meng Tan