To learn more, check out Frankly 101: Become an Emotional Genius, a blended learning program designed to use hands-on practice and neuroscience based concepts to build emotional genii.
Step 1: Understand your system.
To become an emotional genius you need to understand your emotional system. Emotions are one of our bodies many tools designed to keep us safe and connected to other people. Their function is to guide us toward actions that meet our needs.
Over time your body learns to produce habitual emotional responses that have a high likelihood of getting your needs met. For example, when I cry, mom comes to get me. When I appease, people accept me. When I’m aggressive, I win. These responses are shaped by our unique biological system (aka ‘the bod’), our identity within a particular historical context, and our current context.
Emotions are made of:
- Your body doing it’s best to take care of you.
- Your historic conditioning.
- Your current context.
Understanding our system opens the door to more agency.
Step 2: Treat emotions as information.
Once we understand the function of emotions, it’s time to listen to them. Emotions are information. We should treat them as useful data sets that help us understand and take care of ourselves.
So what exactly are you listening to when you listen to an emotion? Frequently I ask my clients how they feel. Then I ask them what let’s them know they feel that way. Then they look at me quizzically.
Emotions like sad, happy, angry, and stressed are concepts. Underneath those concepts are physical sensations that we make meaning of and eventually give a name like happy. When we can tap into the sensation beneath the emotion concept, we are much less likely to get trapped in old stories and much more likely to address core needs.
There is endless information available when we listen to our emotions. At the end of the day, taking in that information enables us to make conscious decisions about how to respond to emotion and meet our needs. Listening to emotions and meeting needs is a whole book. More on how to get what you need next week.
Step 3: Take things a little less personally
Simple, right?! It can be easy to take what’s going on for other people and make it about us. The reality, just like your emotions are the product of your body, history, and current context, theirs are too. Realizing this frees us from taking emotions personally.
The first step here is separating your feelings from the other persons. When you think, “Oh no, they didn’t call me back.” Rather than going straight to, “They hate me,” notice that you feel stressed, worried, and sad. Care for that. Once you recognize and care for your emotions, then you can begin to consider what’s going on for them.
Remember: Everyone’s behavior makes sense in their system.
Some good questions to ask to explore this are:
- Q) What is that behavior/emotion so smart?
- Q) What need does it meet?
- Q) Why does it make sense?
Questions like these help dig into the needs, history, and context beneath feelings, starting us down the road to curiosity and toward increased agency.
That’s all for now folks. If you want to learn about any of these skills, check out Frankly 101: Become an Emotional Genius, a blended learning program designed to get you up and moving so you can learn EQ skills that stick.
Mieka Briejer is the founder of Frankly EQ; brain based emotional education which gives you the knowledge, tools, and hands-on practice you need to become an emotional genius. Got questions for Mieka? Reach out to her here.