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Time Management: Don’t Make Sacrifices

Time management skills are critical to completing tasks, but I’ve got an important question for you. Between the things you want to do and things you have to do, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. Many people call this time management and focus on cramming everything in, but it’s just not possible. Nobody really talks about what do you have to sacrifice?

If you’re like a lot of people, you sacrifice things like sleep, exercise, fun, and leisure. Unfortunately, those aren’t luxuries. They’re needs. Adults need fun and leisure just as much as kids do, and sleep and exercise are basic needs required for our biological systems to run smoothly. You can certainly get by without these for a while, but not without a big toll on your health, wellbeing, and quality of life.

“Great!” you think. “I’m already strapped for time, cramming more than one human being’s worth of stuff into one day, and you’re telling me to add MORE! Exactly how am I supposed to do that?”

I don’t have all the answers, and you may be limited by some very real constraints of your current situation, but the main thing is to get intentional. Time is a non-renewable resource. You only get 24 hours a day, and you have a finite number of days. How do you want to spend this precious commodity? Not how do others want you to spend your time. Not how does your mind want you to spend that time. How do you want to spend your time, based on your priorities and values and taking into account your responsibilities, goals, commitments, and demands?

To help you get intentional and get more life out of your 24 hours, here are a couple strategies to try out:

1. Do a time audit.

Take a few minutes at the end of the day to write down how you spent your time. All of it. Do this for a few days to gather some good data, then look at patterns. Chances are you’ll notice some time drains:

  • Do you lose time scrolling on social media, streaming shows, or other mindless activities?
  • Are you spending more time on certain activities than you realized? Or doing things more often than you realized?
  • Do others hijack your day with requests or demands?
  • Are you putting others’ wants or needs ahead of your own
  • Are you busy with productive procrastination? These are tasks that need to be done at some point but aren’t necessarily the priorities for that day.
  • Do tasks take you longer than anticipated?
  • Are you over-committed?
  • Are you doing things that don’t really matter to you or that don’t add value to your life?

Once you have a sense of how you’re actually spending your time, you’re in a good position to make some adjustments, which brings us to…

2. Plan your day in advance.

Take 5 minutes the evening before or first thing in the morning to plan your day. Then stick to your schedule, barring unexpected out-of-your-control demands that arise. Be sure to quickly reflect on your schedule at the end of the day. Did you follow it? If not, what got in the way?

Planning your day in advance allows you to consider what’s important to you and to be intentional about how you spend your precious time. Pre-making these decisions protects you against others hijacking your time. Of course, there will be people who need things from you – partners, kids, bosses, etc. –  and you may not always be able (or even want) to say no. With some deliberate planning, though, you may find that you’re putting out fewer fires and feeling more in control throughout the day.

Following a daily schedule also protects you from the sneaky things your mind does that take you off course. When you make decisions in the moment about how to spend your time, you’re more likely to fall victim to the numerous biases and shortcuts that all of our minds take. For example, your mind will throw out a million excuses not to do things that take effort or energy (It’s too late to exercise. It’s been a long day, and you deserve a break.). It will prioritize the short-term pay off over the long-term (Scroll on your phone rather than meal prepping. It’s easier.). It will criticize or guilt you into things (You shouldn’t be reading a book. You should be doing XYZ.). And those are just a few of the ways minds try to “help” us out. When you map out your day, you take the decision-making out of the moment, which takes your mind out the equation. Sure, those thoughts may still pipe up, but they’re less likely to sway you.

Following a daily schedule is even more important if you’re at all prone to anxiety or depression, both of which can dictate in-the-moment decisions about what to do and how to spend time, resulting in self-amplifying cycles. Within my psychology practice, I’ve often seen giant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms simply from creating – and sticking to – a daily schedule!

Setting deadlines gives you more control of your time. Setting time limits can make sure you get to and through all of the important and urgent tasks on your list without neglecting small tasks that lead to wasted time. That said, part of an effective plan to improve your time management is to prioritize tasks and stick to your time slots.

Tips for scheduling your day

  1. For some people, scheduling based on time works out really well. For example, at 8:00, I will make breakfast, check emails, and get ready for the day. For others, planning out times doesn’t work as well. Good time management is part of knowing yourself and what will work for you. If that’s you, try listing your most important tasks as daily “Must dos” instead. These are the activities that you must do today in order to feel good about how you spent your time. This helps us avoid poor time management by focusing on things that matter less but are easier to cross off our to-do list.
  2. Include the big four as often as you can. For humans to be healthy and happy, we regularly need activities that are productive, enjoyable, social, and physical. A daily schedule isn’t about being productive non-stop. Try to carve out time for all of those kinds of activities, and it’s ok to double dip. Maybe going for a walk outside is both enjoyable and physical for you.
  3. It’s also important to make sure that how you spend your time aligns with what’s important to you. That doesn’t mean that every minute should be fun or that we shouldn’t do things we don’t like. It does mean, however, that if how you spend the bulk of your time isn’t In line with your priorities and values, you’re not going to be as happy or satisfied with life as you could be. 

3. Incorporate Self-care.

Building effective self-care practices into your day can be well worth the time cost. When you engage in self-care – real self-care, the kind that helps maximize your energy and mindset – you’re showing up at a higher level for the rest of your day. Figure out daily habits that help you get centered and feel strong. Is it exercise? Stretching? Listening to music while you get dressed? Having coffee on the porch? Cleaning the kitchen the night before? Unplugging an hour before bed? Waiting to check email until after you’ve accomplished something meaningful? Reviewing your calendar and goals each morning? Whatever it is, be sure to include it in your schedule for effective time management that works for you. 

Designing an effective self-care routine can be a game-changer. Self-care [by Design] can help you level up your self-care.

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

– Gretchen Rubin

P.S. I wore “busy” like a badge of honor for YEARS before finding Life Design, which was revolutionary. Life Design is all about creating a life that really works for you, rather than passively following the status quo. Combining Life Design with Psychology has made my life look and feel much differently than it did back in those too busy days. If you’re interested in diving deeper into this kind of work, check out our brand new Ascend program.

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Podcasts

How to Protect Yourself from Burn-Out

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Today’s show is dedicated to the person on the edge of burnout. The person who is juggling work, family, household, friends, and other responsibilities. 

You are an asset in your life. You are THE asset in your life, and as an asset, you must be protected. 

When you serve such an important role in so many different areas of your life, you need to make sure you’re able to show up with as much energy as possible. And, this means taking care of yourself, especially with stress and burnout.

Coupled with Coronavirus, world health experts identified burnout syndrome among those who developed a flawed work/life balance. Mixing work environments with personal life (family members interacting throughout the day), many were feeling overwhelmed, showing signs of burnout with physical and emotional effects; the worst cases could even be viewed as a medical condition. While physical symptoms of burnout were rare, job burnout was not, and the chronic stress that accompanied it. Without social support, workers experiencing burnout had compromised mental health.

Today, we’re speaking with Jamie Shapiro, Executive Leadership Coach, and Master Nutritionist. Jamie is the founder of Connected EC, and she has been coaching and developing high-performing teams since 1998. Her interest in the intersection of wellness and leadership grew out of her own experiences as an executive at large-scale IT companies. She managed large teams, faced enormous pressure, and was often on the road. 

We dive into such a great conversation in this episode. We talk about: 

  • Approaching leadership from a whole-body perspective 
  • The 4 holistic areas that true self-care should hit (pssst! It’s not just mental and emotional!) 
  • The battle between our short-term self who wants instant gratification and our long-term self who wants to grow. 
  • The importance of a clear vision for the future & the cognitive mechanism that fuels our ability to reach them. 
  • The gut–brain connection 
  • And finally, quick tips for pouring into ourselves so we can show up as the asset we are in our lives 

Jamie is the author of the book “Brilliant: Be the Leader Who Shines Brightly Without Burning Out.” 

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Blogs

When Being Selfish Is HEALTHY

We frequently have conversations with our students and clients about how it is NOT selfish to take care of yourself….but what if it actually IS selfish? What if it is something called healthy selfishness?

I came across this concept in a book I have been reading. The book is called Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, and it is a modern-day revision of Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. It is FASCINATING if you apply it to self-care

This book distinguishes between UNhealthy selfishness (which is rooted in greed, poverty, and neuroticism) and HEALTHY selfishness (which is rooted in abundance, the motivation to grow and be happy). It’s actually a form of psychological strength and resilience!

Healthy Selfishness = Self-Love

It argues that healthy selfishness is one factor that allows people to self-actualize and that healthy selfishness actually stems from healthy self-love. That’s great for your mental health.

Think about that! It all makes sense. When we love someone, we want them to be happy, and we do things to help support that happiness.

If we love ourselves, we should want ourselves to be happy and do things to help support our own happiness. A lot of people feel guilty about feeling good, but that doesn’t have to be you. 

What if, rather than allowing “selfishness” to be the excuse for why we don’t practice self-care, instead, we made it the reason why we NEED TO PRACTICE self-care?! 

What’s your level of healthy selfishness?

They included the items from a healthy selfishness scale, and I want to share them with you so that you can see just how ground-breaking this topic is. (For more detailed results on how you measure up, take the quiz here.)

How well does each of these statements describe you?

  • I have healthy boundaries.
  • I have a lot of self-care.
  • I have a healthy dose of self-respect and don’t let people take advantage of me.
  • I balance my own needs with the needs of others.
  • I advocate for my own needs.
  • I have a healthy form of selfishness (e.g., meditation, eating healthy, exercising, etc.) that does not hurt others.
  • Even though I give a lot to others, I know when to recharge.
  • I give myself permission to enjoy myself, even if it doesn’t necessarily help others.
  • I take good care of myself.
  • I prioritize my own personal projects over the demands of others. 

 

Healthy Selfishness in Action

Understanding something at a conceptual level and putting it into practice in your life are 2 entirely different things. Before you head off into your week, I want to give you a few tips to think about in order to cultivate your own level of healthy selfishness.

TIP #1: Ask yourself what you need…THEN DO IT

It’s incredible what happens if you take just a moment to stop, scan your body and your mind, and ask yourself what you need. Said another way, what could make you feel even better in this moment? 

Maybe you need a glass of water. Or 5 deep breaths. Or something to eat. Or a quick, brisk walk. Or simply to use the bathroom.

This week, twice per day, I challenge you to intentionally ask yourself what you need. And then go out of your way to fulfill that need.

TIP #2: Allow someone else to take charge

So many of us are the type who is used to taking charge or taking responsibility. We quickly spot issues around us that need to be resolved, and we fix them. Immediately.

This week, at least once, PAUSE. Allow someone else to step in. You’re not in this alone. Allow someone else to take some responsibility, and let yourself relax as they do so.

TIP #3: Say no

Be honest. When someone asks you to do something for them, is your immediate reaction to always say yes? How much free time does that leave you with? Do you ever resent having to follow through on those yeses?

Just once this week, say no to a request or demand from someone else. Not only will this help give you the space you need to prioritize your own personal projects, but it’ll be good practice at setting healthy boundaries.

Need some help? We recently did an entire podcast episode on boundaries. Give it a listen to help give you the tools and confidence you need to say no this week. 

Go love yourself!

Self-care is a necessity. It supports you as the asset you are. You deserve to be loved and taken care of, just like everyone else around you. Love on yourself and take care of yourself this week! 

For help creating a stellar self-care routine, tailor-made just for you, check out our Self-care [by Design] mini-course.

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.”
– Paolo Coelho
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Podcasts

The Committee in Your Mind (Part 1)

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This is a special episode of the podcast. It’s actually the first part of a 2-part series we’re doing to dive into one of the most foundational principles of psychological strength. Specifically, the inner chatter of the committee in your mind. 

What is the committee in your mind? It’s the set of inner voices that chatter on a near-constant basis and have something to say and a judgment about every situation you find yourself in. It’s the set of mental patterns you’ve developed over time that leads you to over-function, be self-critical, and ignore your own needs. It’s the set of voices that leads you to suffer unnecessarily. 

Part of understanding critical thoughts and improving mental health is how we manage this internal monologue. Sometimes, this committee can help understand another person’s point of view, some typed of inner speech assists in problem-solving.

It’s time to recognize them and begin to disobey them. 

During this first part of this series, we introduce you to a set of unhelpful committee members who show up involuntarily. These forms of inner speech all people experience can disrupt more helpful internal dialogue. If you missed that episode, you’ll want to go back and catch it.  They permeate nearly every moment of our lives, influencing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.   

We’ll walk you through who each committee member is, and how to recognize them, pay attention and at the end, we’ll walk you through some actionable steps to begin to quiet this internal speech and minimize their impact on you. 

The [Unhelpful] Committee Members: 

  • The Inner Critic 
  • The Persecutor 
  • The Debbie Downer 
  • The Judge 
  • The Task-Master 
  • The Logistics Person 
  • The Martyr 
  • The Victim 
  • The People Pleaser 
  • The Worrier 

Be sure to catch next week’s episode where we introduce you to the HELPFUL committee members who need more of a formal introduction to show up to the party. You wont’ want to miss it! 

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Blogs

Quieting Your Inner Critic

You know that little voice? The inner critic inside that’s constantly comparing you to others, noting all the ways you’re falling short, and oh-so-helpfully pointing out every little thing you do wrong?

Or perhaps that critical inner voice is more of a bully, calling you names and harshly criticizing you at nearly every turn. Paying attention to this voice can lead to feeling ashamed.

We all have an Inner Critic, but some are lucky enough to have a really loud, insistent one. If you know what I’m talking about, keep reading. 

Understanding the Critic

While you may know deep down that the Inner Critic isn’t really a good thing – after all, you tend to feel pretty crummy when it shows up, right? – on some level, you might believe that it’s there for a reason. Essentially, it wouldn’t have much to harp on if you would just do better or BE BETTER…or would it?

I challenge you to think of a time when your Inner Critic was satisfied. Find just ONE time the Critic said “Good job!”

*Crickets chirping*

Know this: the Critic showing up has nothing to do with how well you’re doing. Read that again.

No matter what you do or how well you do it, the Inner Critic will find something to criticize. That’s what it does.

Its job is to find the negative and to beat you up with it, and it’s good at its job. It’s just a mental habit, though. And it’s one that can be broken.

Silencing the Critic

Here’s a surprisingly effective way to start to quiet your Inner Critic: record your daily victories.

Each day, write down your victories. These may be the things you did well, the things that took courage or persistence, or maybe things that others appreciated about you. Think of this practice as intentionally giving yourself some (well-deserved, even if it doesn’t feel that way initially) credit. Record your daily victories for three weeks and see what happens.

Spoiler alert: you may find that, by the end of that period, it feels easier and more natural to give yourself that credit when it’s due. Moreover, the harshness of the Inner Critic will start to quiet down a bit. Your life experiences may become brighter once you learn to do this. 

This simple exercise uses your mind’s natural confirmation bias to your advantage. Your mind loves a target. When it has one, it’s really good at spotting and holding onto evidence of that target. In the case of your Inner Critic, your mind is looking for all the ways in which you are not good enough. The more evidence it finds, the more locked on to the target it gets, and the cycle continue.

Noting your daily victories will give your mind a new target. It definitely takes some time for it to shift, but your mind will eventually get it. “Oh, we look for successes now! There’s one…and there’s another.”

Think about how much different your day-to-day might feel if you weren’t being bombarded by all of those negative thoughts, like: “You’re not good enough. You suck!” messages and, instead, were getting the “Kudos to you!” ones.

Think about how much better your day will feel when that voice in your head is filled with positive affirmations instead of negative self-talk and overly critical thoughts. By sneakily silencing your inner critic you are doing away with limiting beliefs and vastly improving your mental health. 

A Note of Caution

A word of caution, though, when you do start noting your victories, your mind – with its loud Inner Critic – is going to have a hard time with it at first. Whenever you try to find a victory your Critic will have a retort, a reason why that one doesn’t count.

     “You don’t deserve credit for that. Everyone does that.” 

     “That wasn’t a big deal.”

     “That’s not big enough to count as a victory.”

Write it down anyways! You’re building a new habit, and it’s going to take some practice to get past the awkward “this feels wrong” phase. Know that the internal resistance will fade as your mind learns that the Critic is no longer the one in charge. These cognitive-behavioral changes are the key to growth.

Sharing your victories can be helpful, too. We’d love to hear them!

P.S. If you’re interested in doing more work on your Inner Critic, you may like our new Ascend program.

“We all have the tendency to believe self-doubt and self-criticism, but listening to this voice never gets us closer to our goals. Instead, try on the point of view of a mentor or good friend who believes in you, wants the best for your, and will encourage you when you feel discouraged.”

– Kelly McGonigal

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Podcasts

The Committee in Your Mind (Part 2)

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This is the second part of a special 2-part series of the podcast where we continue our deep dive into one of the most foundational principles of psychological strength. Specifically, the inner chatter of the committee in your mind. 

What is the committee in your mind? It’s the set of inner voices that chatter on a near-constant basis and have something to say and a judgment about every situation you find yourself in. It’s the set of mental patterns you’ve developed over time that leads you to over-function, be self-critical, and ignore your own needs. It’s the set of voices that leads you to suffer unnecessarily. 

Part of understanding critical thoughts and improving mental health is how we manage this internal monologue. Sometimes, this committee can help understand another person’s point of view, some typed of inner speech assists in problem-solving.

It’s time to recognize them, pay attention, and begin to disobey them. 

During this first part of this series, we introduced you to a set of unhelpful committee members who show up involuntarily. These forms of inner speech all people experience can disrupt more helpful internal dialogue. If you missed that episode, you’ll want to go back and catch it.  

Now, we’d like to walk you through a set of more helpful committee members. These are members who will not show up uninvited. Rather, they need more of a formal invitation to speak. However, if you can summon them to the conversation, you’ll find yourself in a much better, more confident, aligned position to move forward in the way you truly want to. 

The [Helpful] Committee Members: 

  • The Coach 
  • The Wise Advisor 
  • The Asset 

We barely scratched the surface of this incredibly important concept of internal speech in this episode, but we go DEEP on this very topic in our Ascend program. We invite you to check out the program and join us! https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/ascend  

We also mentioned a new free resource we just released last week. Sign up at www.peakmindpsycholgy.com/support to get immediate access to three 3-6 minute interventions to help you return to balance, control, and ease when you’re feeling worried or overwhelmed. Just in time for the beginning of the school year.  

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Podcasts

How to Develop Habits That Change Your Life

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When you think about your day, what percent of it would you guess is being run by or influenced by habits? I bet the percentage is a lot higher than you think! Creating habits is always possible.

You see, so much of our behavior, the thoughts we have, and our emotions are ingrained in us to the point that they run nearly on autopilot. Sometimes these habits move us in the direction we want to go, but sometimes they don’t.  

Sometimes, our habits subtly nudge us away from the end goal we have in mind for ourselves, and we may not even realize the impact those small behaviors have on our ultimate outcomes. 

It’s often asked, “How long does it take to create a habit?” and the truth is that it can vary from person to person. Research shows that positive habits take a minimum of 21 days to form but bad habits can take 66 days to break. Good habits like forming a morning routine of brushing your teeth can be easy to adjust if, for example, you want to start exercising. The key to forming new habits is to stay consistent. As we build habits, forming a habit loop makes it easier to stick to these new learned behaviors.

Because of this, today, we’re focusing on the compounding power of habits.  

Today we’re speaking with Will Moore. Will hit rock bottom in his first year of college when he hit his mom and ended up in jail. Through a turn of events, Will found himself immersed in his first personal development book, and it occurred to him that he wasn’t at all on the path that would lead him to become the type of man he wanted to be.  

Through years of studying and experimentation, Will became the success he is today by focusing on the incremental and compounding nature of small, everyday habits in the areas of life that matter most. And he’s sharing that expertise with us today. 

In this episode, we talk about: 

  • What habits are and what they aren’t  
  • Some common misconceptions about habits 
  • 5 core areas of your life that you develop habits around and why each one is so important to your ultimate outcome.  

Will is the founder of Moore Momentum, and he’s sharing his wisdom and expertise with us in this episode. Dig in, and ask yourself, are you truly on the path that will lead you to become the type of person you want to be? Is your simple habit formation making those habits stick? If not, it’s time to adjust course.  

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Blogs

Live Your Eulogy

My sweet great-aunt Betty died a few weeks ago. She was a loving woman living a life on borrowed time, a light in this world for nearly nine decades. Thanks to technology, I was able to attend her funeral virtually. And as I listened to the beautiful eulogy my cousin delivered, I was struck by how perfectly he captured her life and just how richly she embodied the things that were important to her.

And it made me think of my own eulogy.

As morbid as it might sound, I’ve given some serious thought over the years to what I hope people will say about me when I’m gone, and I urge you to do the same.

Will they say pleasantries? Will they be too occupied crying? Will they tell funny stories and reminisce about how you made them feel? What will the theme of your eulogy be? Who will be able to surmise it best? Who knows who you truly are? And, what would you want people to think or say things differently? 

Writing your eulogy helps you get a clear vision of the kind of person you want to be and the kind of mark you want to leave on this world. In a sense, it becomes your road map through life, your personal guide for how to live your good life.

It’s helpful too, because it’s not too late to make positive changes. You can start living your good life today, and people around you will notice your energy and candor. Give some thought to what you’d want your eulogy to say, and start living your life accordingly. 

In the weeks since my aunt’s passing, through a number of small and not-so-small moments, I realized that if I were to die today, I’m not sure that my eulogy would fit. As much as I think about and talk about living your values and intentionally cultivating a good life, my actions of late have fallen short.

That’s a tough pill to swallow.

I think the toll of disrupted routines, social distancing limitations, and the constant loom of impending crisis have made life feel less vibrant for many of us. I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t been a recipe for always showing up the way I want to.

I am fortunate, though, that it’s not too late to course correct. I am humbled and reminded that psychological strength, which helps me live my eulogy, is not a one-time, check-it-off-the-list achievement kind of thing. 

It requires ongoing intentional practice. I don’t have to wait for anything external to change, though. I simply have to make the choice to do the work.

If you, too, have gotten away from living your eulogy – or even if you haven’t quite figured out what your life is all about yet – it’s not too late for you, either. Let’s commit, today, to embody the qualities that matter most to us. 

P.S. If you want to build your psychological strength, our Ascend program is here for you, and we’ll be doing the work right alongside you.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
-Abraham Lincoln
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Podcasts

Neuroplasticity: The Full Story

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Neuroplasticity. A concept we’ve all heard about. It’s a key driver of a growth mindset, the creation of new habits, the reason why gratitude practices are so powerful, and the underlying factor that allows us to reinvent ourselves. 

How amazing is that?! 

But, there’s a darker side to neuroplasticity that we don’t typically hear about. A side that can dilute or even thwart some of the hard work you’re doing to develop yourself into the person you want to be. 

This is what we’re covering this week. 

Specifically, we dive into: 

  • The ways in which neuroplasticity operates in our minds 
  • The brain science behind neuroplasticity and what causes “rewirings” to occur 
  • The little-known “dark side” of neuroplasticity that isn’t helpful to us  
  • Why we’re asking you to stop watching the news! 
  • Ways in which neuroplasticity might be operating in our daily lives and counteracting the hard work we’re doing to better ourselves 

Finally, we end with concrete ways you can begin to use neuroplasticity in your favor. To make your mind into your most valuable asset, rather than your biggest barrier. 

Much like aerobic exercise and other physical activity, getting more brain function can be produced through brain exercises. Older adults face cognitive decline which can adversely affect certain aspects of cognitive function. But it’s not just older human brains that need to focus on their grey matter. Rewiring your brain is an important part of mental health and the generation and engagement of brain cells, for example, learning a new language, increases neuroplasticity by creating new neural pathways and igniting a new part of the brain. Improving neuroplasticity not only keeps you sharp as you are now, but also adds to your brain’s ability.

You won’t want to miss this episode. It can literally change your life! You not only learn about brain plasticity, but also gain neuroplasticity exercises you can do from virtually anywhere.

We also mentioned 2 new free resources we just released. First, check out our new Monday Mindset Minute episodes. These are 60-90 second episodes to give you something concrete to try in your life to build psychological strength. 

Second, we want to support you during a time that many of us are stretched to the max. You might be feeling overwhelmed, or nervous, or your perfectionism might be getting the best of you. Sign up at www.peakmindpsycholgy.com/support to get immediate access to three 3-6 minute interventions to help you return to balance, control, and ease.  

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Blogs

Emotional Intelligence: Sifting Through Grey Emotional Sludge

The term Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of people around you. It’s not always black or white, though. 

Pop quiz. What color is this?

Most people will say grey.

But, what if I told you that this grey paint is actually composed of 4 other colors mixed together. How easy would it be for you to figure out what those 4 colors were?

Pretty tough, right?

This simple paint example actually illustrates a powerful principle of emotional intelligence. It’s important to understand emotional intelligence and why it can matter. Let’s dig in a bit further.

Emotional Intelligence

A psychologist named Daniel Goleman pioneered much of this work, and his book on emotional intelligence outlines five different facets:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

While these are all the levels of emotional intelligence, today, we’re going to dive into the most foundational facet: self-awareness. (PS – If you want more info on all of the facets from Goleman himself, you can check out his book.)

Grey Paint

Self-awareness in the context of emotional intelligence simply means you’re consciously aware of the emotions you’re feeling.

Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

In actuality, it can be very difficult, particularly when we’re experiencing multiple emotions at the same time.

You can take an emotional intelligence test that measures your interpersonal skills, ability to manage your own emotions, ability to learn about others, read body language, and issues an emotional quotient (EQ) number. Some argue that EQ can matter more than IQ in determining success. People with high EQ can also benefit from stronger mental health.

Think back to a situation you were in that was difficult. Emotional. Complex. Maybe it was a particularly rough fight with your significant other. Maybe a friend betrayed you, or you had a big struggle at work. Think back to how you felt.

Many times, these particularly challenging and difficult situations can bring with them a mix of unpleasant emotions: fear, anger, jealousy, regret, sadness, annoyance, etc.

Imagine each of these emotions has their own color. When they’re pure and un-mixed, you can clearly see each color. But, when you mix them together, you’re left with an indiscernible grey that just feels bad.

If you imagine a situation where envy (green), regret (yellow), sadness (blue), and anger (red) all mix together to form a grey, emotional sludge, you can begin to see why self-awareness in the context of emotional intelligence gets difficult. Once the paint colors are mixed together, it can be hard to sift the colors back out.

Unless you sift the colors back out, you can’t acknowledge each, individual emotion and begin to unpack what it’s trying to tell you (self-awareness).

Sifting the Paint

The good news is that you can become a pro at sifting paint, or unpacking complex combinations of emotions. The key is to practice in times when your emotions aren’t so mixed. When you’re feeling pure anger, pure sadness, pure envy. 

Why do so many psychologists annoyingly tell you to correctly label your emotions? THIS IS WHY!

When you label your emotions in times when they aren’t mixed, sure, you’ll help yourself ‘intelligently’ move through that situation. However, by practicing with these relatively more straight-forward situations, you’ll be better able to recognize each of the paint colors / emotions when they’re all mixed together in more difficult situations.

A Note on Guilt

One of the key things that keeps people from clearly labeling emotions and admitting that is what they’re feeling is guilt. We feel like certain emotions are off-limits or that we shouldn’t feel that way. Envy and anger are two big ones for women; sadness is big one for men (generally speaking).

There are no incorrect emotions. One more time for the people in the back: THERE ARE NO INCORRECT EMOTIONS!!!

You feel the way you feel, and only you get to decide what that is. 

Acknowledging your emotions, admitting you’re having them, figuring out what they’re telling you, and taking thoughtful actions from them is what emotional intelligence is all about. 

Try it!

Give it a try! Next time you experience any kind of emotion (positive or negative), pay attention and label it. Spend some time with it. Figure out what it’s trying to tell you. Do this often. 

These repetitive exercises are exactly what we mean by building psychological strength. You’re intentionally practicing skills that will come in handy when life throws you adversity.

 

Want even more?

It has never been more important to be psychologically strong. The data coming out of the pandemic is looking grim. People are stretched to the max, worried, and overwhelmed – a recipe for adversity.

Join us in Peak Mind’s flagship program Ascend and begin building psychological strength in 3 core areas: You, Your Mind, Your Life. 

Finally take charge of your mind and make it your best asset, rather than your biggest liability.

Design your life using a proven method that puts you in the drivers seat at the center of your life.

“Emotions are messy and hard o figure out.”
– Spike Jonze