I turned around in my kitchen and walked into the open dishwasher, cracking my shin on the edge of the door. Ouch!#@%*! Pain went through my body, and my anger barometer zoomed from zero to one hundred in about two seconds. It was all I could do to keep from kicking the door. Good thing - the pent up energy in my body would have torn the door off its hinges. But I caught myself and made some better choices. I quickly put ice and arnica on my shin, drank a glass of water, and took a few deep breaths. The barometer began to drop. I still hurt, but I hadn't done any damage.
Practicing aikido on the mat, I learn to first manage myself so that I can better manage the attacker. I center and extend ki (energy, life force) in order to blend with the attacker's power and direct it toward a positive outcome. Off the mat, I can do the same. In the face-off with my dishwasher, a huge emotional attack threatened. How could I blend with that?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) - a phrase made famous by Daniel Goleman, author of many books on the subject - begins with self-awareness and self-management. Goleman writes that in high emotional states, we often get "hijacked" by the power of our feelings, but we can learn to catch ourselves and direct our emotions before they direct us. Research shows that EI can be learned and that those with high EI skills receive higher salaries and manage teams that regularly exceed their objectives.
When you are intentional with your emotional energy, you increase your EI, improve interpersonal interactions, and lead a happier life. Here are some thoughts that might help:
- Notice, acknowledge, and honor your emotions. "Wow! I'm pretty upset. Where is this upset coming from, and what do I want to do about it?"
- Breathe and Center yourself. Centering puts a moment of awareness between the event and your action. When you center, you give yourself time to notice your emotional energy and decide what to do with it.
- Act Purposefully. Putting ice and arnica on my wound aligned with my purpose. Kicking the dishwasher door did not.
Emotions happen. And we can make choices about how we manage them. By gaining awareness in the heat of the moment, you will become more practiced at managing all of your emotional energy with intention and purpose.
In April, we'll talk about the next EI skill: self-motivation. Stay tuned!
The Guest House
This being human is a guest-house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
From: Say I Am You, Poems of Rumi
Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks
P.S. Would you like to listen to this poem? Click here and turn up your speakers.
Unlikely Teachers Workshop
Emotions can be wonderful teachers. My colleague Joy Jacobs and I offer workshops based on my book, Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict.
This active one-day workshop helps you reframe and manage your most difficult life attacks. You'll gain awareness, choice, and power over your reactions, take an in-depth look at where your life energy is stuck, and begin to release it for more purposeful uses.
Contact me for more information.
Power & Presence Training
76 Park Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Judy Ringer is Founder of Power & Presence Training, a Portsmouth, NH company specializing in unique workshops to help you and your organization manage conflict, communicate effectively, and co-create a more positive work environment. E-mail Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial meeting to discuss your training needs.
Ki (from Ai-ki-do) is Japanese for life energy. Ki Moments is a complimentary monthly "e-zine" with tips and how-to articles to help you manage the key moments in your life.
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