Since I decided to come out of my comfort zone and write (my personal nemesis) I am amazed at how much help is out for all challenges we may embrace. Certainly media, the same media I whinge about every post has been significantly crucial in spreading the word that anything is possible if we are armed with the right tools. Emotional intelligence is one of those tools. The fact that it is so closely connected with maintaining mental strength makes it a most appealing strategy no matter your dream. With age it can be harder to keep going and staying positive is exhausting especially if you suddenly choose left instead of the right you have followed most of your life. Warning bells ring.
I consider myself intelligent so what was I doing wrong. I had done the reading, I understood about mental strength didn’t I? The trouble was I did understand, in theory. I wasn’t living it. Knowing about the process isn’t enough, you need to apply it. Emotional intelligence marries two important factors – emotions and control. The process is ridiculously simple because it is based on practical ideas but hearing the word emotionalimmediately has us assuming all manner of things, mostly that we have entered the airy fairy twilight zone. Then there is the control word with its instantaneous negative connotations, or are they? You see emotional intelligence keeps us mentally strong, and mentally strong people achieve. There is nothing airy fairy or negative about that.
The Oxford Dictionary defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Many believe that emotional intelligence is the key to personal and professional success. Instead of juggling constant upheavals, employing EQ you stand back to allow yourself to find perspective. You are no less emotional or feeling. Instead your emotions have consideration for yourself, others and the actual situation. Your approach when led by perspective is confident and inspires confidence.
As a writer and indeed with anything involving the arts confidence is a huge factor. Creative people place themselves in a position to be criticised or reviewed. It is the nature of the profession. The constant comparisons and demands are difficult to live daily without a strong sense of self. I think everyone needs this but those involved with the arts often appear more vulnerable. At an emotional level, confidence or lack of is often compensated by what seems over the top behaviour. Creativity often walks hand in hand with flamboyancy which can appear as attention seeking. A better understanding of EQ (emotional intelligence) would help balance how this is viewed. It has certainly made me think more about my own behaviour. Following posts by Dr Travis Bradberry I have understood a lot more about myself and that life is not about what we do but rather about what we don’t do.
His latest post gives insight into how emotionally intelligent people navigate their lives. A significant thing people with mental strength don’t do is stay in their comfort zone. Richard Branson in his discussion on the comfort zone says that humans, creatures of habits, build lives on ‘patterns of thought, emotions and behaviour. Unfortunately for many people these patterns lead to complacency, which impedes growth.’ Somehow you convince yourself that the day will come and everything will miraculously change. I wasn’t complacent; I was fooling myself. I was busy trying to get others to pat me on the head for my possible one day cleverness. Ooops! I was forgetting that mental strength doesn’t beg for attention. It doesn’t need ego stroking, or validation to step up and into where you want to be.
With the absence of attention though, we can be less inclined to be around people, withdrawn even. A little bit of validation is very nice. Dependency can breed resentment. I know I can be quite short or impatient with people that don’t take my desire to write as a serious vocation. If I like what I am doing why do I need outside validation? The problem arises because knowing and doing are two separate things. I am a sook and although I do get on with things I struggle on my own without that praise. Do I need it though? I said need not like. No wonder I hate being outside my comfort zone. Letting go of this idea completely is difficult. Can it be negotiable? Can we guarantee insecurity won’t have negative consequences? I for one am not sure I can do that without holding grudges.
People with mental strength don’t hold grudges. Whilst I really do try to remember this, Nico, my hero in Unexpected Obsession does hold grudges and still manages to be successful at least until Lia came along. Instinctively smart enough not to hang around negative people because they sap your energy he had to learn holding grudges was just as detrimental. In his mind he wasn’t holding grudges, he was being logical and avoiding those he considered not worth knowing. He hadn’t considered changes may have occurred. Nico dealt without empathy. Sometimes EQ needs to be fine-tuned a little. Emotional intelligent people set limits to avoid confusion but in a format still conducive to maintaining relationships. We can’t avoid them. My female lead for instance knows despite compelling circumstances self-pity means a loss of power. Lia judiciously recognises it creates a victim. She never feels entitled to deserving better treatment even from Nico. She knows there are appropriate ways to treat people and her reaction ultimately controls what they do. It is too easy to let entitlement deteriorate into jealousy, envy and a tendency to believe past missed opportunities are to blame for everything.
It seems emotional intelligence lives, or is trying to live in my characters. I am hoping there is a subconscious transference from character to author. Hey, it’s possible. Mental strength doesn’t close the doors on new ideas. I am hoping for osmosis from fictional characters. Or can it be that I am practising rather than theorising through my characters? I feel sometimes that furthering my understanding of this topic has made me a better writer at least where motivation is concerned. Hey, I’ll take any improvement.
To step outside comfort you need a healthy and honest dose of self-awareness. It means a good hard look at your work and recognising what is missing and what may never be there, and accepting you can’t blame other people, or your past for not succeeding. It means looking at life and admitting you chose safety; or rather you let your fears choose. It means embracing you can now do it differently. I have always done things that involved writing in some way but managed it in the shallow end of the pool. Sometimes theoretically conversant (really, who do I think I am?) with the idea of the comfort zone I even went as far as the middle of the pool; the deep end remained in the distant. I am now out of my comfort and guess what I hate it but I don’t fear it.
Why haven’t I delved into EQ sooner? More and more I am inclined to think it has to do with presentation. Having it put before you in clear, concise language instead of subject specific jargon predisposes us to open our minds. I personally love the KISS principle – Keep it simply, Stupid. Did you know emotionally intelligent people don’t let others limit their joy, and they don’t limit the joy of others? Who wouldn’t want that to be a part of their lives? Wish me luck as I keep trying to put theory into practice.
Until next time,