Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence is different from other, more traditional concepts of intelligence. It refers to our ability to identify, manage, and respond appropriately to emotions in ourselves and others. Emotional intelligence is related to multiple mental constructs, like empathy, awareness, and problem-solving abilities. It’s not a topic that gets a lot of attention, but putting time into honing our emotional intelligence can have many benefits.

People have a habit of letting their emotions take control of their thoughts and actions. This trait is more pronounced in some, but most of us have had such an experience at least once in our lives. Emotions can be hard to control due to their intensity and abruptness. A high emotional intelligence is associated with an improved ability to manage emotions, either through direct suppression or by using a coping strategy like mindful meditation.

                                                       

Gaining Awareness

In order to develop our emotional intelligence, we must first become aware of the way that emotions influence our daily lives. Our minds are constantly awash with information that isn’t relevant to whatever we’re doing at the time. Memories, anxieties about the future, and random biological processes are all capable of spontaneously triggering emotions. Even if they don’t cause emotions directly, this background noise can certainly leave us primed to be more affected by environmental emotional triggers, like those experienced during regular daily communications. Becoming aware of these influences is the first step toward addressing their impact on our lives.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

There are a number of ways to improve emotional intelligence, one of which is by practicing mindfulness. A mindful perspective places focus on the present, helping us to better deal with the moment at hand, and reducing the influence of the constant background noise within our minds. As mentioned above, much of this noise can cause us to be more emotionally reactive. When we react to emotions without any type of thought or intervention, we are failing to use our emotional intelligence. Mindfulness helps us develop our emotional intelligence by teaching us to stay in the moment and to become less susceptible to mental activities that don’t directly apply to the present.

 

Online Therapy – Are there any Benefits?

Online Therapy – Are there any Benefits?

 

Online therapy is shown in research to be just as effective as in-person therapy. (Ref 1) But it gets a bad rap, as it is still quite a new modality compared to traditional counselling sessions, usually face-to-face. However, technology influences every aspect of life in this modern age, and online therapy is now easily accessible. It is not just for use during a pandemic or lockdowns; it is here to stay, so it is worth giving it a go, no matter your bias. How can you say you don’t like it if you don’t try it? 

Online therapy comes in various shapes and sizes, and it can be done via video, audio or text, making it easily accessible and more affordable. Technology has revolutionised our ability to get therapy no matter the geography or the time of day. If you just want to chat with someone or work on trauma and more profound issues, there will be a therapist available at the tip of your fingers. The benefits are many:

  • Accessible and comfortable, it can be done from your home
  • Time convenient for your schedule
  • Private
  • Cost-effective
  • Allows for social distancing if needed.

However, most important of all, the question has to be asked. Is it as good as face to face therapy? YES! It seems it is. Several studies have found that online CBT results in very effective treatment and even that doing CBT online is more effective than in-person therapy. (Ref 2). Online therapy enables you to have a wider choice of therapists. As the therapeutic alliance (how well you and your therapist ‘click’) is an essential part of a good therapy session, online therapy lets you check out therapists and find someone you trust. 

But it is a personal choice that only you can make. But, significantly, so much modern research proves that online therapy is ‘just what the doctor ordered’ for a healthier, happier you. 

AMindset offers online low-cost affordable therapy – if you want to know more about how we can support you go Here

Liz McCaughey

Find out more about Liz Here

Other Articles:

Online Psychotherapy vs Traditional

(Ref 1)

Meredith S. Pescatello, Tyler R. Pedersen & Scott A. Baldwin (2021) Treatment engagement and effectiveness of an internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy program at a university counseling center, Psychotherapy Research, 31:5, 656-667, DOI:

  1. 10.1080/10503307.2020.1822559

 

(Ref 2)

Luo, Sanger, N., Singhal, N., Pattrick, K., Shams, I., Shahid, H., Hoang, P., Schmidt, J., Lee, J., Haber, S., Puckering, M., Buchanan, N., Lee, P., Ng, K., Sun, S., Kheyson, S., Chung, D. C.-Y., Sanger, S., Thabane, L., & Samaan, Z. (2020). A comparison of electronically-delivered and face to face cognitive behavioural therapies in depressive disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. EClinicalMedicine, 24, 100442–100442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100442

How To Fight Your Fear and the Inner Demon

How To Fight Your Fear and the Inner Demon

 How To Fight Your Fear

There is good in every human being, no matter how bad the nightly news reports demonstrate.  There is good in you and me. Although at times we may doubt that to be true. We should stop thinking about how to fight your fear and inner demons, but detach ourselves from any vulnerabilities.

If we were so good:

  • Why don’t we do more for charity?
  • How could we have acted the way we did with a friend or partner?
  • Why don’t we give more time and money to help people?
  • How could we have been so cruel to another person?
  • Why do we always act like a coward and run away from discomfort?
  • Why do we justify our vicious actions or words?
  • How can we live with so much self-deception?
  • Why aren’t we crusading for betterment for the world instead of shying away from anything that we might find unsettling.

Our inner demon (sometimes referred to as ‘the lower ego’ or ‘ego’) tells us we are not a good person, We are constantly exposed to this inner chatter and it makes us afraid that maybe we really are a bad person.  Perhaps the Catholics have it right: “We are guilty until proven more guilty”. We cannot escape our badness so forget about forgiving yourself and anyone else, just work hard to free yourself from your own guilt. And the best way to stop feeling guilty, outside of the confessional, is to detach yourself from the feelings that might make you vulnerable.

 

How to fight your fear: Understanding Yourself

It seems that to get by we try and harden ourselves against compassion or those soft spots that put us at risk of feeling bad. We try to stop ourselves feeling too much, so we put up barriers that generate prejudices, judgements and selfishness. These barriers hide the genuine caring part of our natures, we can all pretend to be kind, but sometimes, wittingly or unwittingly,  we are doing the opposite. The barriers we put up are entirely false and out of place. Fortunately, they only hide the real, caring person, they do not destroy the compassionate part of our persona. Our genuine nature is always there, just veiled by delusion and our own lower ego which promotes separation, selfishness and survival of itself (the false you) above all else.

It’s a simple fact that whenever something happens that we don’t like, we rush to mentally escape it. This can take the form of a drink, exercise, verbal criticism, housework,  justifying our actions or thoughts, writing or even some simple shopping therapy.  Like most of humanity, we have developed a myriad of distractions to stop ourselves from feeling uncomfortable.

Simple feelings of mild anxiety, restlessness, guilt are immediately pushed aside as we find a distraction to make us think in another direction. And the emotionally painful ‘biggies’ of betrayal, unworthiness, loneliness have us sprinting in the opposite direction, or buying shares in a brewery.

How to fight your fear by dealing with it directly something that we willingly do, as that might result in us coming face to face with ‘Despicable Me’.

Although we may try to believe we are a good person, the way we constantly display our ‘horrible’ personal traits has us, backed-up by the ego impulses, thinking the opposite. We harden ourselves to ourselves and everyone else which results in barriers being put in place that attempt to keep everyone at a distance.

The person that stares back at you each day in the mirror becomes a survivor who will not be afraid. This means hiding the vulnerable and caring nature which could potentially expose you, thus leaving your emotions defenceless. And if this thoughtful, kind-hearted you does escape, there is a momentary lapse of defences as you lose control and have a break-down.

This loss of control feels uncomfortable, during the emotional wailing and for some time afterwards. The ego sends the signal, ‘this is something to be avoided at all costs.’ And in an attempt to constantly avoid a repeat of the discomfort or pain you become even more frightened. The classic double-bind of a Catch 22 situation. The more you try and stop the pain or fear, the worse it gets.

As a result, we try to think ‘tough’ and put a hard shell or barrier around our emotions. This is particularly prevalent when you have opened up to someone who then causes hurt. Despite your best endeavours, this person is unconsciously on your ‘revenge’ to-do list. Until you are honest and face up to what you are really thinking, you will not know if this is true. Unfortunately the barriers not only block people from getting to you, they block you from being honest with yourself.

Defending ourselves against any possible discomfort but especially against pain which can be physical or emotional, is a natural defence mechanism of the psyche. Rather than face whatever makes us frightened, we fear it and the defensive barriers are erected.

But these false barriers as ways of defending the psyche only work in the short term, they are not sustainable. The fear will return, because even with the defensive barriers in position, we remain afraid. We want to have certainty in our life and try to do everything right in the vain hope we will find that safe place to hide and be happy for the remainder of our lives. But life isn’t that kind, the uncertainties and sorrows of it are a reality we all have to face, which results in our being afraid of living.

Eventually many people, paralysed by their own fears, which are fears that are often just a part of their imagination, stop living. Life to them becomes just an existence with no joy or hope.

There is no-one alive who can avoid sorrow, pain or fear. If you don’t believe me, have a think about dying, does it worry you at all? The reason I mention death is because it is the one thing that will happen to every living thing on this planet.

Fear is a part of life and has to be faced, erecting defensive barriers will not work in the long term so why not try to do things differently?

This, of course is easier said than done. Our habitual way of thinking and doing is hard to break especially as your lower ego is not interested in you changing at all. Indeed it is the great deceiver and although you may believe you are in control of your life, you are being duped by your ego.

The ego wants to avoid pain at all cost. As most of you have lived with the ego in charge of your thinking and doing, it takes effort, pain and hard work to wrestle back the control.  You will only be able to take back that control when you choose to find a long-term more permanent solution to your fears. This involves choosing to face and experience the fears and the pain, instead of running away.

It may seem a bad idea to choose to feel the pain and the intensity of that fearful feeling, but once you have done it, you have a chance of softening or moulding the emotion, even letting it go. If you do not allow yourself to do this and instead suppress the feelings, you are more likely to break, make rash decisions even cause pain to someone you love, under the weight of these repressed emotions.

Thinking tough to the extent that you suppress the feelings of pain, anxiety or discomfort makes you a more brittle and delusional person.  This type of thinking feeds the lower ego who in an attempt to protect itself wants you to think you are separate from other people, correct in your thinking and invulnerable. This ego part of you likes you to be isolated and it feeds you with delusional thoughts.

I am sure you have all experienced this in your life when looking back you have thought:

  • What the hell was I thinking?
  • How did I allow that to happen?

Those past moments where when the ego was firmly in charge. You were its puppet acting out its selfish, delusional madness.  If you want to live a balanced, truthful, less fearful and guilty life, you have to face your fears and in so doing, challenge the ego.  You have to go to those places that make you frightened or uncomfortable. You have to accept that there is suffering in the world and although you cannot fix it all, you can attempt to change yourself so you can be a better, stronger and more balanced person.

We all want to be happy, we all want to be free from fear and pain but that will only happen when we accept that they are a part of a normal life. Life will always have its ups and down and every day we are subject to new and unexpected experiences. Life’s situations, people you meet and your own reactions will be unpredictable. It’s time to accept the feeling of fear and life’s unforeseeable adventures as just a part of living. Stop trying to control the impossible.

There is no certainty in life and being uncertain makes us more afraid. Accept this makes you feel uncertain and insecure and then look at the bigger picture of each incident and see if you can see the lesson that is being presented to you. Usually there is a  valuable lesson that you need to learn contained within each scenario. This may cause you more fear and pain in the beginning but as you face it, you fix it. Every time you face up to a fear and overcome it, you become emotionally stronger. A coward remains a coward by running away instead of facing the music. Eventually, when you are able to handle the good and the bad days with equal assurance you can proclaim yourself a warrior.

When you stand up to the bully, he tends to run away, but if you run away he tends to run after you. The emotion of fear is like a bully, when you face it, it loses its strength and potency. That is the time you are firmly taking back control of your life from your internal bully (the ego) and a more balanced and happier ‘you’ will emerge.

Once you are able to do that for yourself, you can look to the bigger picture and see what you can do for others. Even that person who has caused you the most pain and you wished to repay tenfold.   You can genuinely help others once you stop feeling the need to defend yourself. in this instance, helping others is not a distraction but an act of kindness coming from a person who has experienced pain and fear but who has learnt how to manage it through bravery, truthfulness, wisdom and strength.

As you help others you learn more and help yourself and over time you will notice that something is missing from your life.  Something you have carried around with you for aeons.  And that something is the emotion of fear.

You may think that allowing vulnerability and compassion into your life will be dangerous and fearful, but the opposite happens. Externally showing the real inner you, as opposed to the false ego, will bring you more peace because compassion is what makes you human. This is the best way on how to fight your fear and inner demons in life.

We all have fear and it comes in different forms and at the most unexpected times. Facing each fear, one at a time, with no barriers is the way forward. Instead, allow truth and vulnerability to be present plus compassion towards ourselves and others. This  will bring about a liberating and positive change in how we experience life.

It is what you do in the present that will shape the remainder of your life.

So look to yourself and see how you are thinking and reacting:

  • In fear or in peace
  • Defended or vulnerable
  • Harmful or Harmless

How to fight your fear by facing your fears and being truthful to yourself is a process that will have to be repeated throughout your life. It is a mental process that will become second nature after a while.

“If you want to know what will happen to you in the future, look at what your mind is doing now.”

The Dalai Lama

Resilience vs Adversity – Childhood Lessons

Resilience vs Adversity – Childhood Lessons

Resilience is rooted in adaptive behaviour and science. The advances in neuroscience in the last decade have allowed a better understanding of why some people develop the adaptive capacities to overcome significant adversity and others do not. 

Which one are you – coping or non-coping?

There are many forms of adversity in childhood, but all adversity can be overcome if a child has a supportive parent, caregiver, or another adult. This combination of family or friends’ support helps develop positive experiences, which constitute the foundations of resilience. They enable a child to develop personal character strengths, which allows them to respond to adversity and thrive eventually. Learning to cope with manageable threats to our physical, emotional, and social well-being is critical for developing resilience.

Resilience is the capacity to continue and develop positive behaviours following adversity at a behavioural level.

Adversity = Difficult or unpleasant situation

There is no clear roadmap letting us know what we will experience in life, but adversity is guaranteed. For example, who has not experienced the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, work stress, a severe illness, or just getting older. Each change affects people differently. We all hate uncertainty, especially those pesky, fearful thoughts-forms that uncertainty and adversity create in our minds. They are sometimes described as the ‘chattering monkey’. But having resilience helps us overcome the negativity associated with fearful thoughts and perceived negative experiences – so as you get older, start to embrace life’s adversities. We need to be aware that the road to resilience will likely involve considerable emotional distress, but that makes us stronger and better. So, stop being the victim, or OK, we are all allowed to be the victim for a short time, but then we must sort ourselves out and move on. Resilience is the key, and adversity is part of the process.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Liz McCaughey

Find out more about Liz here

Other Articles:

Is learning to be resilient a positive life experience? – Yes!

Resilience – How to Develop it Successfully

Is learning to be resilient a positive life experience? – Yes!

Is learning to be resilient a positive life experience? – Yes!

Resilience is a term used in a variety of ways and contexts. Some questions to ask yourself:

Are you resilient? 

Do you want to be resilient? 

Why is resilience necessary? 

What the hell does it mean to be resilient?

Resilience can be an individual characteristic, a learning process, or an outcome resulting from adversity. In the ‘Resilience’ AMindset articles, we will focus on resilience within the confines of a person’s ability to adapt successfully to acute stress, trauma, or more chronic forms of adversity. We are a mental health company that improve lives, so let’s look at how our articles can enhance your life. ☺

Resilience is positive whether it is considered an outcome, a process, or a capacity. Having resilience allows us to use adaptive responses in the face of significant adversity. And the joy is there is no end by date to the capacity of resilience within us. It is neither an immutable trait nor a resource that can be used up. 

So first, let’s look at the biology; resilience results in healthy development because it protects the developing brain and other organs from the disruptions produced by excessive activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stress response systems. To avoid the complexity of neuroscience, stated simply, resilience transforms potentially toxic stress into tolerable stress. 

Toxic Stress = Prolonged adversity

Tolerable Stress = Normative life experiences

So, resilience is rooted in both the adaptation and the experiences that a person has experienced. And these experiences are logged from infancy. These life experiences either promote or limit our capacity to develop resilience.

So don’t run away from negativity; it helps build resilience. Challenge the negative experience and become stronger and more resilient as a result.

 

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Liz McCaughey

Find out more about Liz here

Other Articles:

Resilience vs Adversity – Childhood Lessons

Resilience – How to Develop it Successfully