Category Archives: A Balanced Life

Emotional Intelligence

Strengths and VulnerabilitiesIt is accepted that IQ – the Intelligence Quotient – is fixed. You either have it or not. But Emotional Intelligence can be learned and that is why it is important to differentiate between an inherent weakness and vulnerability. To diverge slightly…. when I was training to become a homeopath, we learned that if you remove the cause (eg: poor sanitation) then health outcomes improve. When there are lifestyle changes made: such as choosing healthy foods, one’s vulnerability to poor health or disease is lessened.  Likewise with Emotional Intelligence Coaching: if you identify the vulnerability and remove or change the contributing factors, the possibilities are endless. There may be some adjustments to be made – both in mindset and in the physical body and it is similar to the aches and pains felt after starting a new workout at the gym as the muscles get stretched and adjust to new levels of fitness.

In my search for Emotional Intelligence related meanings I came across an article  that described four types of vulnerability:

  • Physical
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Attitudinal.

For instance, the dictionary definition of vulnerability states that there is “a capability or susceptibility to being wounded or hurt” which implies that it is a possibility, not necessarily a given that something will happen. Whereas weakness in one definition that I came across,  is portrayed as “a disadvantage or fault” often of character or a lack of determination.

Emotional Intelligence is not only being aware of your own emotional responses to a myriad of situations, but also being cognizant of the emotions of those around you. It’s how you manage your behavior, how optimistic or resilient you are and how you manage your stress. In your relationships, whether they are personal, social or business – it’s about how you communicate, manage conflict, build team bonds or inspire others to lead.

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Empathy

EmpathyEmpathy is one of 26 key competencies in the 4 Quadrant Model of Social + Emotional Intelligence®. Emotional Intelligence is about being aware of not only of yourself as well as others. Empathy is also about how to manage behaviours and relationships.

So what is empathy? Who has it and what are the signs of someone who doesn’t have it?

The Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. The definition that I have on my own SEI profile is “- sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns; the ability to put yourself in another’s place and to take that perspective into account in your relationship with the other person.”

You would expect most therapists and coaches to have empathy with their clients as they listen for and observe both spoken and unspoken cues. In my humble opinion, if you come across a therapist or coach that lacks this quality….. find someone else.  There are several signs that pinpoint that someone is lacking in this competency. Firstly, they will tend to stereotype others. Another clue is the inability to “read” people or their emotions and respond without considering how another might feel about that response. A third and telling sign is that they are often in conflict and don’t take any personal responsibility for creating these situations.

Whether you believe in unseen energies or not, humans are energy beings and the research undertaken by the HeartMath Institute has shown that the energy field generated by the heart can influence both our emotional responses and those of others nearby. Of course, you don’t have to be a therapist to have empathy, you may be a good listener – which is always a good start.

The good news is, that if someone is lacking in empathy, there are ways to develop this important emotional intelligence competency. It is possible to learn how to become more empathetic. For instance, to be a good listener, you first need to quiet the chatter in your mind. Too often people are forming responses before the speaker has finished. Above all, a regular meditation practice will help you to listen with a clear mind. Practice the power of the pause.  This will help you to respond in a manner that shows sensitivity to the speaker. Learn to paraphrase what you think you have heard and most importantly withhold judgement as everyone has a different perspective.

Needless to say, if you feel that you need to develop this particular intelligence or any of the other 26 competencies for Emotional Intelligence, then schedule a Discovery Session or some coaching sessions.

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Ripples

Watching the ripples expand across the water in ever increasing circles. Just stepping into the water  – a simple action – started this reaction.

Dr Randolph Stone, the creator of Polarity Therapy wrote “Energy must have a center to  move from and an objective to flow to”. The ripples are energy made visible. Other energies such as thoughts are unseen, but they too can have a ripple effect. Emotions – both positive and negative can wash over us and the ripples can be far reaching. Polarity Therapy subscribes to the belief in 5 elements, but these differ slightly to the traditional Chinese Medicine ones. They are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The Water element qualities are receptivity, intuition, nurture and creativity. The flow of water, as opposed to stagnation, nourishes and connects.

Little wonder that ripples on a body of water create such a powerful metaphor  – the ripples as they reach out further and further, begin to flatten out as this subtle energy dissipates and surface tension returns to what it previously was before the disturbance. Yet below the surface or where the ripples or waves have made constant contact, there may be profound changes.

I am reminded of this poem by James W. Foley

Drop a Pebble in the Water

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there’s little waves a-flowing, and there’s ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave have grown;
You’ve disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you’ve started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;
But there’s little waves a-flowing, and there’s ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you’ve stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.

 

 

Where is Spirit leading you?

You know you are on the right path, when you feel that tingle of anticipation. A combination of expectancy and apprehension….The path ahead may look a little less travelled and there is that brief moment of discomfort as you step out of the familiar (or same old, same old …… others may be blunter and call it a rut) and into the new and exciting future.

Imagine….. that this path leads you to discover some amazing insights and to connect with people just like you. Imagine… as you step into this energy that you know that Spirit has led you home.

Whatever stage you are on your journey, there are guides there supporting you. Some are visible, others may be glimpsed briefly and there may be some that have chosen not to reveal themselves to you at this stage. All you need to do is accept the signs and the help that is offered.

Listening

Recently I found that I wasn’t listening as well as I should. Quite apart from the slight deafness that has come about after decades of poor fitting motorcycle helmets.

I came to realize that in some of my conversations with colleagues that I was interrupting their conversations. It doesn’t help that my mind races at a million miles per hour when I am in a creative moment, but it is important for me, as a therapist, to correct that behaviour.

When training to become a homeopath, it was instilled in us that “a case well taken, is a case likely to succeed” and this meant not only asking the right questions, but listening carefully to the replies. Or what was not said. In homeopathy there is what is called a PQRS – peculiar, queer(it had a very different meaning back a couple of centuries ago), rare and strange symptom. This will be so different to the usual symptoms of a complaint that it will often lead directly to a remedy.
Similarly in coaching and hypnotherapy, listening carefully to the client will often result in an intuitive response that leads to great insights. Intuition is enhanced by taking time to still your own mind and stop those thoughts or impulsive answers. As the mind chatter subsides you can also become aware of your own, considered responses. Ask yourself “Is my language positive?”

A great acronym to remember is THINK –
Is it
– True?
– Helpful?
– Inspiring?
– Necessary?
– Kind?

Reflection

ReflectionAnother of my envelope jottings looked at intention and how reflective practices can lead to some amazing solutions.

When you set an intention use the “rule of three”.  Firstly examine what it is that you want, secondly observe what is important to you about this intention and thirdly look at what your ideal outcome is likely to be.

As you go deeper and expand upon your what your intended outcome will bring, it is advantageous to reflect on what will it do for you when you get it.

Time

Time is a precious commodity and I was reading recently how we have constructed the  concept of time – measuring it in seconds, minutes, hours….. etc.

Time seems to speed up as we are engrossed or having fun and who hasn’t felt time march by so slowly when we are bored?

Then there are those occasions when we can feel like time has been stolen from us. I’ll give an example. I was looking forward to attending a professional development meeting recently, where the speaker was to give a presentation on storytelling. As this is something that interests me, having already been to a workshop on storytelling and I was keen to find out more.

I traveled to the event with a colleague and were lucky to  find a seat in the front row and waited for the pearls of wisdom to drop into our laps. Various topics were talked about but the content didn’t match what was advertised.

Time began to drag as political and social opinions were brought up. A “case study” was distributed and time slowed further…. I couldn’t walk out. Front row. Presentation being filmed. Passenger to take home.

My attention turned to the paper that the case study was printed on. A rectangle, folded to a square and hey presto! Time started to pass more easily as my fingers folded and unfolded this paper to create an origami crane. Settling what I hoped was a look of attention on my face, the remaining paper was also folded to two more, smaller squares and Mother Crane now had two chicks…. quite apt for the metaphor of the birds the presenter used in his case study.

A couple of days later, I eagerly looked forward to a webinar replay that I had signed up for as the time clashed with the aforesaid presentation. It took a little while to begin the topic and this presenter allowed herself to be interrupted by people coming on line and typing comments. About then I started to have the feeling that this too was stealing time. Fortunately the replay came with a fast forward button and I was able to move on.

As a person who presents regular workshops, both events have been a valuable teaching tool. Plan the presentation. Talk about what you said you are going to. Be aware of your body language and tonality whilst presenting. Be present and focus on the topic and if it meant to be educational, deliver awesome content.

Giver or Taker?

Are you a Giver or Taker? A giver will give of their time, often being the pillar of support for family and friends. Givers are the myriad of volunteers who contribute to charities, faith based organizations and communities. Their reward is not monetary and can’t be measured accurately as a marker of economic growth or downturn, but if they weren’t there their contribution would be sorely missed. You may have met the Giver who shares knowledge without thought of recompense as their reward is contributing to the growth of the recipient. It is also helpful to reflect on what a Giver gains by giving. There may not be an explicit reason for their giving and often the Giver is rewarded by emotional satisfaction. Gandhi said “The best way to lose yourself is by service to others.”

Open hearted and trusting, Givers are often naive when faced with the neediness of a Taker and they would benefit from realizing that they too, need boundaries. A Taker will often deride a Giver’s altruism, calling them a “soft touch” or weak, not realizing that by giving generously of time, information, energy or labour that the Giver has strength in their service.

Takers on the other hand, are those who are likely to be close hearted. They may present as the person who is driven to succeed at all costs, little realizing that the ultimate cost is to them. It is likely that you know a Taker or two.  The person who only calls when they want something or perhaps it’s that person who, once they have the ideas or information they need from you, packages it up and delivers it as their own.

Other takers are what Sonia Choquette calls “Energy Vampires” and they are very familiar to therapists working in the holistic field. An Energy Vampire is attracted to the energy and open heart of the Giver, and unless there are adequate boundaries in place, the Giver will suffer “burn out”. Surprisingly, the Taker is often unaware of their unconscious greed, for that is what it is. In order to fulfill a need buried deep in the subconscious, the Taker is constantly looking for fulfillment by taking time, information, energy or labour that they feel will help them in some way.

Maintaining an equilibrium or balance between giving and taking and not being attached to the outcome is ideal. The concept of “Paying it Forward” is well known and you may have received from one source, but you are not obligated to return the favour.

Release and Surrender

Recently I drew 2 cards – one was an oracle card that said “Release and Surrender” from Doreen Virtue’s Daily Guidance from Your Angels and the second was 7 of Cups from the Rider Waite Tarot. Usually I keep my personal readings to myself, but today I’m sharing.

The first card has the words “We shower you with blessings of our radiant love. Open your arms, and release the challenges that you’ve held tightly gripped within your hands. Open your hands, arms and heart to our love and assistance.”

“So what?” you might say and if you are not into cards, synchronicity read no further. For me this has some significance…. it’s the 5th time this particular card has come up at random for me recently. My belief system is that I’m being tapped on the shoulder to listen to the message.

The second card came with a few interpretations. The first was “Among many options choose the one closest to your heart” and to use dreams and imagination to create a different future. The second interpretation was that the querent (me) might be building too many castles in the air and it’s time to sort out truth from fiction. A third interpretation was that this card represents limitless possibilities and potential and a need to focus on the future directions. Which interpretation to pay heed to?

Today, I’m starting the process of releasing and surrender to the limitless possibilities that the universe offers…….

Cards

Today I drew 2 cards. It’s not something I usually share, but the first card was from Doreen Virtue’s Daily Guidance from your Angels and the second card was from the Rider Waite Tarot. How are they related? The first was entitled “Release and Surrender” and over the past few weeks I have drawn this card 5 times. To me that means the Universe is tapping me on the shoulder to listen to a message. It’s a card about “releasing the challenges that you’ve held tightly gripped within your hands”. The second card was from the Rider Waite Tarot pack and there are several interpretations. The first was to consider a message that one might be building too many castles in the air. The second interpretation of the card was “ to relax the mind and open to the dreams and imaginings that an inner child loves to entertain”  whilst the third interpretation was about representing limitless possibilities and potential but the need to focus.

The past few months have been difficult. I won’t go into details, but I’m a strong believer in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s not just the messages from the cards, they have been helpful in coming to today’s decision and I’m releasing and surrendering some old dreams and challenges to make way for the new. It will be a gradual process as I listen more to the promptings from my inner child and the universe and relax into the potential that the cards have revealed.