This is part two of a blog I started yesterday which explains what emotional intelligence is and why being aware of our emotional state and reactions is very beneficial to us. Go here to see part one of ‘What is emotional Intelligence?’
I’m not willing to change. I’m happy to remain unhappy!
Not everyone wants to feel ‘better’ for whatever reason. Some people are comfortable to be in a permanent state of stress, as this is all they have ever known. Some relate the feeling of emotions with pain and fear due to past emotional experiences when others have lost control and hurt them, or they have caused harm. They see emotions as something to avoid as a way of protecting themselves and others from further pain.
As mentioned, in part one, different people resort to many different ways to avoid connecting to how they are feeling. Unfortunately, anything that diverts us from feeling is detrimental to our overall wellbeing and will result in in-balance and dis-ease.
To take advantage of the benefits that clear thinking, having a calm mind, and a relaxed body will bring, we actually have to choose to ‘want’ to change our state of being. We alone have the power to choose this for ourselves, so there is no point waiting for someone else to do it for us!
Breathing is so important: Why are most of us not doing it properly?
As goes the breath, so goes the mind! A common indicator of when someone is not fully engaged with their feelings is a shallow or inhibited breathing pattern. By restricting the breath high in the body, in the throat and upper lung region, it will be short, shallow, and of little energetic (oxygen) value. This type of breathing results in a tense body and a busy mind that is unfocused and always jumping from one thought to another. This is often indicative of a person who is not present in the moment but distracted by past and future thoughts.
By contrast, a deep relaxed smooth breath down into the lower lung’s, creating movement in the stomach region aids to give vital oxygen supplies to the whole body and mind, helping to keep both at peace and in balance. This supports the body with smooth purposeful actions and supports the mind with calm, focused, relaxed, and clear thoughts that help a person to remain in the present moment.
How are you feeling now?
Where is your breath now?
Breathing properly is necessary to live a balanced life.
Breathing was the first act of our life and our breath is the main source of vital life-force energy (or Prana), which brings awareness to our life. All nature has natural rhythms and we are part of nature. However, most people today have lost their connection to the natural cycles of body, mind, and soul. If used purposefully, it is our breath that can help us strengthen these vital links.
Research has proven how various rhythmic breathing patterns significantly affect memory recall and the emotional body, due to the electrical impulses created by our brain which link physical functions to emotional reactions. The electrical responses in our brain vary depending on if we are inhaling, exhaling, breathing through the nose, or breathing through the mouth. Mouth breathing is linked to shallow breathing and physical factors such as sleep apnea. Deep breathing is done through the nose and when we are breathing this way, we are more easily able to process fear and more readily able to recall images and information.
Our breath, therefore, is a key factor if we want to manage our mind and negative emotions. If we find ourselves in a fearful situation, it is to our advantage to inhale through our nose to enable us to process information more rapidly and to be able to physically respond more quickly.
Gasping breath through an open mouth and holding on to it only makes any situation worse.
What are some benefits of learning to breathe better?
We can learn to breathe effectively to assist our mind from holding onto anger, guilt, regret, anxiety, and fear. This releases tension and stress that these emotions cause and therefore helps to harmonize the body, mind, and emotions. Other benefits of natural relaxed breathing also include more joy and enthusiasm, improved productivity and efficiency, improved self-esteem, enhanced health and general well-being, and improved interpersonal skills. Breath gives us life, and when our energy levels are raised we will feel healthier, more alert and energetic and our body will work more effectively to remove stress, tension, and toxins from our system.
Becoming aware of when we are stressed is the first step in doing something positive to alleviate the problem. The more we are aware of stress and the more we practice stress-reducing techniques, the healthier we will become. The same techniques will not work for everyone as we are all unique and process information differently. However, breathing works for everyone if we take the time to stop, relax, and breathe to clear our mind.
What are some techniques to help me develop emotional intelligence?
There are many additional techniques, apart from breathing, that we can incorporate into our daily lives to help us regain control over our emotional and mental state at any given time.
If we find ourselves in a situation where we are beginning to experience some of the symptoms of stress, like an elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, anxiousness, tension in the body, etc. we can first look around at others to see if they are also stressed. If they are not, it could be a sign that we may be over-reacting to the situation. Realizing that the perceived threat is not real should allow our nervous system to immediately relax.
Often we can be alone, when anxious, so will need to find some other methods of returning to a balanced state where the body is functioning to its best ability to preserve our health and well-being. There are many options and they can be separated into groups based on the time it takes to achieve a harmonious state of being.
Aside from breathing alone, options using direct sensory input are the quickest at getting results. They involve using the sensations of touch, hearing, taste, smell, and vision. Something, like hugging your favorite stuffed toy or pet, smelling your favorite flowers or incense, listening to a favorite piece of music or the birds singing outside, eating a favorite food, or looking at a photo full of calming memories, can help to normalize the body’s systems to alleviate stress. Walking, swimming, and gardening in a calm, relaxed, manner are very beneficial for some, as is a soothing movement like swinging in a hammock or stretching your body combined with slow deep relaxed breathing.
Other options can take a longer time to reduce stress but are beneficial because they can be more effective in the long term to strengthen the body and nervous system so that its ability to help itself is improved. These may include regular exercise, yoga, and meditation, engaging with nature, or even having a regular catch-up with friends where your problems can be shared. Solutions like these may not be possible or practical at the time of feeling stress but should be engaged in by everyone who wants to develop greater self-awareness and understanding.
Improve your emotional intelligence by practicing different techniques
Not everyone responds to all stimuli, in the same way, so try different techniques to see which method works best for you. A technique that works for you may not work for someone else. This can be seen by the different music people listen to. A favorite piece for someone may cause agitation in another person. Most people already use some stress reduction techniques and they may not even be aware that what they resort to automatically when under stress helps them cope. The key to success is finding the sensory experience or a combination of them that work best for you.
When agitated, because you are stuck in a traffic jam and late for an important meeting, it is not possible to do a yoga class to calm down, but it is possible to listen to calming music or engage in some deep relaxed breathing to help ease your mind. Viewing this time as a bonus will help you relax rather than being annoyed because you cannot be where you want to be at this moment. It is our perception of what is happening, our ‘belief’ that it is a ‘negative occurrence’ that will make it a negative experience. By practicing changing our minds, we can change what we previously saw as problems, to turn each situation, or event, into an opportunity.
Find the solutions that work best for you by practicing different techniques in different situations until you have methods of restoring your mind-body balance to a relaxed state quickly and efficiently. Our emotional state of being at any time can be like clouds in the sky. Maybe there is a full-on thunderstorm raging, or maybe the skies are filled with fluffy white clouds. Sit and watch the clouds (problems) floating past and do not get tied up in thinking about them. We can, with practice, rise above them to where the sky is clear for a better perspective on what is currently happening in our life.
Why are emotions so important? They teach us about ourselves
It is important for us to understand the significance of our emotions. They are messages that we give to ourselves- interpreting the world for us by telling us what we like and what we dislike, what we are interested in and what we fear, etc. By their very nature, emotions have been formed from our past experiences, so is more a window to what has shaped our lives up to this moment rather than what is happening right at this moment.
An emotion that arises based on past fears may no longer be appropriate as it is due to old habits rather than the current experience. Allowing ourselves to experience emotions, analyze their current relevance, and then responding accordingly is important if we wish to gain control over our body and mind and therefore any situation we are in. By asking ourselves, when aware of our emotional state, “what can I learn about myself in this situation?” we can use the information to make positive changes in our life.
We cannot survive without emotions. They can save our life, cause us to fall in love or inspire awesome creativity, as well as guide our everyday decision-making from moment to moment. They define us as individuals and allow us to communicate with others on a much deeper level than words alone can. When we can create connections with others without fear of judgment or punishment, our relationships will forever be strengthened.
As we become more conscious of our own emotions and learn how to work with them we will also become more aware of the nonverbal signals from others. This allows us to understand what they are experiencing emotionally, and to distinguish if what they are saying actually relates to how they are feeling. Self-awareness gives us the ability to be more truthful and to be able to discern the truth from others– therefore helping us to understand why others react to us as they do.
“If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior towards you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.”