Fear is paralyzing. The fear of rejection. Fear of change. Fear of success and fear of failure. We're afraid of clowns. Ok, scratch that.
Fear is a necessary survival instinct. It leads our decisions and helps us survive. We depend on our ability to recognize danger.
But 15 - 20% of people develop a phobia that limits the quality of their life and the results they are getting at least once in their life. This amazingly high number does not include all the "undiagnosed" cases of fear that limit our success, keep us from achieving our potential, and spoil our relationships.
Fear also keeps us from being seen, seeing, growing, and from touching other people.
Most of the time, what we are afraid of is only in our heads. It's not real. What we're afraid of is not happening and if it is happening, it's not half as bad as we imagined.
If we're able to turn fear around, it turns from a barrier into a compass.
A simple trick to fight fear
A very simple trick to fight fear that works well for me and clients, is owed to ancient stoics. It's about visualizing the worst-case scenario. The point isn't to fantasize about hell on earth but to look at things in a pragmatic and realistic way.
What happens if everything goes wrong? What will it look like?
Fear is in your brain. Often, there is no real danger. The fear is fictional.
We expect and demand certain results from ourselves. Fear shows us what happens when we fail our expectations.
I adapted the wisdom of ancient stoics as follows:
I recommend starting a conversation with your brain. If I am afraid to start a new project, a conversation might look similar like this:
You: Ok, brain, why do you say I should not do it.Brain: It's too dangerous
You: Dangerous how?Brain: You'll fail
You: But you don't know if I will fail before I even started. Brain: You failed last time
You: Yes, last time I failed. But that does not mean I will fail this time. Brain: But you could
You: That's true. I could fail. Or I could succeed. Why would it be such a problem to fail?Brain: Remember how it hurt last time? It will hurt
You: What exactly hurts about it?Brain: People will speak ill about you
... and so on. You will find that at the end of nearly every conversation, you are less afraid. By rationalizing fear and identifying the parts that are pure fiction or not worth letting go of an opportunity.
Interestingly enough, a common source of stagnation and hesitation is the fear of judgement by others. At the end of a "brain talk", you will find that
a) You cannot be sure that the same people will not judge you either way
b) The factual risk (minus the fiction) is worth taking for the potential win
c) People who are mischievous might not deserve the influence you voluntarily offer
Depending on your temperament, you might feel safer when you also think through how you can recover/repair as soon as possible should the worst-case happen.
Why it's important to face your demons
We're typically most afraid of the things we most urgently need to do. But they limit our life satisfaction or career success.
The brain, the very organ in control of your hormones, thoughts, physical sensations and even emotions, decides which parts of reality it will present us with. We can control that with our thoughts.
For that, we need to be self-aware and try to remove fictional, irrational fear as much as humanly possible.
It's all around us at all times. People who support us and indifferent people. Chances and hurdles. Problems and solutions. Red lights and green lights. Was there ever a bird on your balcony that woke you up on a Saturday morning? Perhaps you know the phenomena: As soon as you realize that the bird is annoying you, the noise takes up nearly all the room in your brain. The loudness of the noise didn't change. Just your perception.
Our brain is superb at creating self-fulfilling prophecies. It doesn't matter if your fearful negative thoughts are fiction or real. Your thoughts decide how your brain sets the filter. And which parts of the plethora of things around you it will show you.
Have a look at this picture.
It will probably move when you first look at it. Reading this article reminded you of times when you've been afraid - or the current fiction in your brain.
While you look at the picture, calm your mind. Breathe slowly and deep and empty your brain. The picture is not moving anymore.
It's semi-related but a great showcase. We don't see things how they are. Depending on our state of mind, we perceive things differently and we see different things. Especially when we are paralyzed by fear.
When will you have the first conversation and turn your fear into your compass?
The audio below contains brainwave-stimulating sounds. It's soothing and calming and might help when you are paralyzed by fear. Please read the disclaimer first (do not use when driving, operating machinery or if you have any form of brain disease.)
Some people's brains take a few times to get used to the stimulation comparable to a workout, others feel the impact right away. The effect grows stronger with continued use.
Watch it and if you like it, you can download this and other sessions in my store. The code is "enjoy"
Other resources:Letting go of anger and fear with the Sedona methodFear of Chance - 5 Life HacksThe neuroscience of fearThe little guyContinue reading
Emotional Intelligence is my favorite topic because it's the set of skills and traits that helps anyone to get better results in their professional and personal lives.
I love to speak about and teach skills that help people to more business success and life satisfaction!
You can increase your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is inherently different from intellect. You IQ (intellectual quotient) is the ability to learn, and it never changes throughout your life span.
EQ is a flexible set of skills that can be learned, acquired, honed and improved. While some people naturally have a high level of emotional intelligence, it can be developed in anyone.
Book smarts and street smarts can only take you so far, emotional smarts are often overlooked while being a critical aspect of the overall health and wellness of every individual.
Everyone can benefit from a high level of Emotional Intelligence, from CEO’s of top companies, to the homemaker down the street, it is the key to professional, social and personal success and your overall wellbeing and contentment in life.
The science behind Emotional Intelligence
There are a vast amount of studies showing the many great benefits of high emotional intelligence, here are some notable entries.
“Studies show that people with higher emotional intelligence testing scores are more socially competent and enjoy higher quality relationships” (Brackett, Warner, &Bosco, 2005; Brackett et al., 2006a; Lopes, Salovey, Cote, & Beers, 2005; Lopes et al., 2003, 2004)
One study found a positive relationship between self-esteem and emotional intelligence. (Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Self Esteem among Pakistani University Students, Bibi, et al., 2016)
TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence in the workplace alongside 33 other critical skills needed at work, and they found that emotional intelligence to be "the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs."
The international search firm Egon Zehnder International studied 515 senior executives and found those who had the highest emotional intelligence levels were more likely to succeed as compared to those with very high IQs or even those with a lot of job experience.
According to a report published by Yale University researchers, "the most common complaints that lead people to psychotherapy are anxiety and depression. The skills associated with emotional intelligence, therefore, should help individuals to deal effectively with unpleasant emotions and to promote pleasant emotions in order to promote both personal growth and wellbeing.”
A study by KRW International, found that “CEOs whose employees gave them high marks for character had an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period.” This rating is five times higher than those who were marked with low character ratings. (https://hbr.org/2015/04/measuring-the-return-on-character)
30 reasons to invest in Emotional Intelligence Training
While there are tests available, it’s difficult to truly measure emotional intelligence. However, you don’t need to measure it with a score to see the benefits of having a high level of emotional intelligence. So, you don’t need to take a test to determine whether you display the typical behaviors of someone who has a high EQ.
There are a variety of benefits that are associated with high EQ. You may find that some of these are present in your life, and it could be because you have a high EQ. We all have some level of emotional intelligence, it’s just that some of us have a higher level of it.
According to a report published by Yale University researchers, "the most common complaints that lead people to psychotherapy are anxiety and depression. The skills associated with emotional intelligence, therefore, should help individuals to deal effectively with unpleasant emotions and to promote pleasant emotions in order to promote both personal growth and well being."
Yale University reports that “Indeed, people with higher MSCEIT scores tend to be more socially competent, to have better quality relationships, and to be viewed as more interpersonally sensitive than those with lower MSCEIT scores (Brackett, Warner, &Bosco, 2005; Brackett et al., 2006a; Lopes, Salovey, Cote, & Beers, 2005; Lopes et al.,2003, 2004).”
Another study found that EI influences how well employees interact with their colleagues, how they manage stress, conflict and their general job performance (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005; Lopes, Cote, & Salovey, 2006a).
Your EQ influences how you socialize, network, and how you manage your behavior. It’s what helps you make the decisions that will bring the best results. Besides the very impressive benefit of improved job performance, there are many other very real benefits.
Let’s take a look at the biggest benefits of having high emotional intelligence.
You Can Learn It
Before we can go any further, we have to talk about the most important thing about emotional intelligence. While some people may seem more naturally emotionally intelligent, it’s something that you can learn. That is absolutely a benefit, as other traits are genetic. This isn’t. You can develop it with practice.
Reduction In Bullying
It makes sense that when someone is able to understand their emotions and those of others, there is a reduction in bullying. We are able to control emotions and react appropriately to the emotions of others. This helps us prevent harm against others as a result of how we feel internally. The natural result of this is that we have a more compassionate environment.
A Better Social Life
People can be thoroughly exhausting, but for people with a high EQ, it’s easier to relate to others. This ability allows them to build closer relationships, as well as attracting people to their social circle. It helps create a deeper level of perception, which benefits everyone around you.
Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of acting against our best interests. Luckily, a high level of emotional intelligence is one of the best ways to overcome this behavior. You’re less likely to engage in behaviors believed to be self-destructive.
When compared to the general population, high EQ people are less likely to binge drink, smoke, take drugs, and commit violent acts. This, according to the University of California, Berkeley (http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/281019).
It’s much easier to make decisions based on emotions. A series of logical decisions requires an evaluation of each scenario. However, emotions always play a role. When you have a high EQ, it’s much easier to analyze situations to come to a clear decision quickly.
There is a lot of talk about transferable skills. For example, if you have a skill for typing that isn’t going to translate into every industry. However, a high level of emotional intelligence is applicable to every industry. It’s truly transcendent, as you can apply it in any and every situation.
People often speak of perfectionism as though it’s a good thing. It isn’t, it can be debilitating. It causes procrastination and makes progress almost impossible. Luckily, high EQ people don’t need to worry about falling into the trap of perfectionism. They know that there is no such thing, which means they can easily push forward. A mistake isn’t the worst thing that can happen, it’s simply something that requires adjustment.
A Healthy Balance
One of the most important aspects of life and self-care is striking a healthy balance between work and play. If you spend all of your time at work, eat junk food, fuel your life with caffeine and ignore your health… well, that’s just no use to anyone.
High EQ people understand that work and play are required for a full and healthy life. For example, you may turn off your electronics and take a weekend out. Or, it might just be a few hours of stress-free relaxation. Whatever helps them manage stress.
Change Is Good
A lot of people struggle with change. It can be terrifying. However, high EQ people welcome change because they understand that it’s a natural part of life. Change doesn’t mean a hindrance to success. It just means adapting to those changes and creating a plan that will help them succeed. So, with great EQ comes adaptability.
We mentioned how perfectionism can lead to perfectionism. Well, a lack of EQ can lead to someone being easily distracted. You know that one person in your office who is impossible to distract? They are super focused and able to resist their phone, random thoughts, and surroundings as they work? That’s the person with high EQ.
According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, there are five main components to EQ. One of those is empathy (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/are-you-emotionally-intel_n_4371920.html). The ability to show compassion, to show empathy to others, and to relate to and be curious about strangers are all key. They are the people at your party who ask questions when they sit down with someone they never met. They’re naturally curious about others.
Weaknesses & Strengths
High EQ people don’t just know what they’re great at. They are equally as aware of what they’re not good at. It isn’t just about accepting that your weaknesses exist. It’s accepting those weaknesses and learning how to make the most of your strengths to strike a healthy balance.
This is also something that helps leaders determine what they should delegate. They know they are better at certain things, thus having others pick up the slack. It isn’t just good for them, it’s good for others, and for business.
People with a high EQ don’t need a reward to motivate themselves to achieve their goals. They are naturally goal oriented and will go out and make it happen.
Living in the Present
We all have regrets, well… except for high EQ individuals. Why? They’re far too busy living in the present and working to the future to worry about what happened in the past. They understand that their past mistakes will consume them. This will just result in additional stress and it will impact your mental health.
High EQ people don’t get caught up in the negatives of life. Instead, they are devoted to putting their energy into solutions. They can find the positive in any situation and will always be the ones coming up with new ideas. If you know someone who constantly complains, well, they’re the low EQ individual in your life. High EQ people seek out other positive people and surround themselves with positivity.
The picture we are painting may suggest to you that high EQ people are pushovers. The truth is, they’re not. Their compassion and positivity don’t make them a target. Instead, they are able to set healthy boundaries. They aren’t afraid to say no because they are invested in their self-care.
A Strong Emotional Vocabulary
We know that everyone experiences emotions. However, only some of us can identify them accurately when we experience them. Naturally, this is problematic. How can you process emotions if you are incapable of labeling them? It’s this misunderstanding of our emotions that results in counterproductive behavior and an inability to make sound decisions.
Luckily, high EQ people are able to label and process their emotions. They’re aware of when they feel frustrated or irritable, they can tell the difference between those emotions and anxiety. This means they can determine what is causing it and what action they should take to deal with it.
A Curiosity About Others
You may be reading many of these points thinking you will never attain this as you’re an introvert. Introverts can be emotionally intelligent, as anyone can be empathetic. With empathy comes curiosity. So, if you care about others and you are interested in what they are going through then you are curious about others.
A high EQ supports social awareness. It’s an ability to read others, understand who they are, what they’re about, and what they’re going through. All of this improves your ability to judge character. While some people see others as a mystery, high EQ people really get people. They see through the act.
A Thick Skin
People with a high EQ are confident in who they are, which means they are unflappable. It doesn’t matter how hard someone tries, it’s difficult to penetrate that thick skin. They’re fine with others poking fun at them and they can make a joke about themselves, too. They are adept at drawing a line in the mental sand between humiliation and laughs.
People with a high EQ don’t behave impulsively. They can delay gratification and display self-control. According to researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, people who struggle to say no are more likely to burn out (https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2013/03/11/the-art-of-saying-no/#19d78bca4ca8).
Not just burn out, they are also more prone to depression. So, the ability to say no is bigger than just getting stuck with someone else’s shift or, staying late at work. It’s cumulative and it’s stressing you out. Luckily, a high EQ means that you can say no, whether it’s to others or yourself.
Let It Go
There is something to be said for the ability to put distance between you and your failures. You don’t need to forget they ever happened. In fact, what high EQ individuals are able to do is refer to those failures as a learning curve and move forward with that. There’s a difference between remembering mistakes and dwelling on them. Dwelling results in anxiety, while remembering allows you to avoid repetition.
You Can Give Without Receiving
The ability to present someone with a gift and not expect anything in return speaks to your compassion for others. High EQ people think about others often. So, when someone has a conversation on a particular subject and then follows up by providing them with a book on the topic, it shows they have a high EQ.
It isn’t about giving a gift, it’s not about giving something to get something back. Instead, it’s indicative of their ability to build strong and healthy relationships.
Some people pride themselves on their ability to hold onto a grudge. However, the negative emotions that are connected to that grudge cause you stress. It constantly invites your body into a fight or flight state.
Stress can wreak serious havoc on your overall health and wellness. It can result in high blood pressure and lead to heart disease (https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health). High EQ people understand the importance of stress management and letting go of grudges is a big part of that.
Toxic Waste Management
In terms of managing people, the most exasperating part is handling difficult people. High EQ people, though, manage toxic people by managing their own emotions. They take a rational approach to confrontations and they don’t allow their own emotions to fuel the situation.
Another key component to managing toxic people is the ability to see things from their perspective. This facilitates the conversation and helps find solutions.
This isn’t the same as self-sabotage. So many of us fuel our lives with caffeine. We are exhausted and always in need of a pick me up. The problem is that it keeps us in a constant state of hyper-awareness.
This can allow your emotions to run rampant. High EQ people don’t chase caffeine to fuel them because they know how detrimental it can be. That doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a cup, it means they don’t drink five of them before most people are awake.
Sleep is the key to managing stress and increasing EQ. it’s your brain’s chance to download memories and recharge your batteries. High EQ people understand that without sleep, their memory, focus, and self-control will suffer.
When you allow negative self-talk to continue you are giving it power and control over you. High EQ individuals deal with negative self-talk as soon as it appears. They do this by replacing these negative thoughts with positive affirmations. It’s natural for negative thoughts to crop up. It’s how your brain deals with a perceived threat. A high EQ person can sift through those negative thoughts and move them toward positivity.
If you derive your joy from others, then you are not the master of your happiness. That’s something that low EQ people do. When high EQ people feel great about an achievement they don’t let anyone get them down. You can’t turn off your natural reaction, but you can stop yourself from making comparisons. You can also learn to take opinions and reactions from others with a grain of salt. They don’t define your self-worth. You do.
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