An Emotional Intelligence boosting tip: know and then let go of past pain
Self awareness is an important part of Emotional Intelligence. This post was inspired by the picture used in the above Poster Coach but also by a memory it evoked. The memory? Hearing my mother’s voice burst out of my mouth in a moment of frustration with one of my children.
That experience terrified me as an adult almost as much as Mom’s occasional temper tantrums terrified me when I was a child. I now know that part of my mother was in contrast to my father’s fears of confrontation. There was a dark side to my father’s fears of confrontation. He could never talk about my mother’s temper tantrums either with her or with me. He retreated until the temper tantrum was over and then acted as if it had never been. What cannot be talked about lives on and not always consciously or in useful ways.
Tip one: Improve your self-awareness. How? Start by answering these questions. What part of your parents’ behavior could not be talked about either when you were a child or now? Which side did you take when your parent’s quarreled.? Who were you most afraid of? Who did you want to be like? What would each parent like best about you? What would each parent dislike the most about you? What did you admire most in each parent? What did you hate most in each parent?
Tip two: Expand your understanding of how children grow into the people they become. Genes are one way we become who we are today. We know that is true when it comes to physical stuff, but is it also true for the psychological stuff that makes us us. One of the less obvious ways genes influence us by bestowing temperament traits. Shy or bold? Extrovert or Introvert? Sad or happy most of the time? Easy going or intense? Love or hate change? Think about which of your temperament traits make you more like one parent than the other?
Experiences are another stepping stone to who we become. Freud, the Catholic Church and my guru Jerome Kagan agree that early memories are of major importance. Kagan makes the point that the young child believes “what is ought to be.”
Later in life various experiences trigger earlier memories or behaviors. When my mother’s mouth roared out of my mouth, it did so only after I began to parent. She was my model of a mother and that triggered behavior based on a learned belief that mothers were entitled to blow at times.
Finally, genes and experiences combine to create beliefs. My mother’s temper tantrums made me believe I was bad. At the same time I am generally a happy person, a little bit shy, but also stubborn in some things. Moreover, my mother was not just her temper tantrums, and her positives more than weighed the hurt of her temper tantrums.
Tip three: Be alert to relationship woes. We pick relationships for two reasons. The person is like us or the person fills a gap for us. Usually it is best when both elements are present. David and I share most basic values; he, however, does not withdraw from confrontation when he sees something as being wrong, which for a long time I hated. Because my father never criticized others, in time I came to wonder if he really would love me. How could I trust his love when he could not admit I had some flaws. Confrontational David is far more honest and that makes me value more what he values in me. Our trust in each other is stronger.
When relationships begin to fail the time has come to ask yourself, what past relationship failures are being worked through again.
Tip four: Be forgiving. Letting go involves forgiving much. Start by remembering all the good things others have done for you and don’t be petty, Then, remember you are far from perfect yourself. Forgive yourself for not being all you would like to be; forgive others for not being all they could or should be.
Not easily done., but possible. Moreover, it is far healthier than holding grudges. When I hear about family members that have not spoken to each other for years, I pity both sides. Here is a quick review of a forgiveness exercise that can be easily practiced.
Review the day. Examine a still painful negative from the day. Did someone treat you unfairly? Did another take without giving in return? Did someone break a promise? Betray a hope? Embarrass you in public? Say or do something cruel?
Take a Calming Breath and see the person who hurt you asking forgiveness. See him or her as a small child , chagrined and embarrassed, but hopeful you will forgive and keep caring. Say the words “I forgive you” outloud or in your head. See the person’s relief.
When you are the one seeking forgiveness, it is best to do that in person. Here is a sample apology: “I am sorry I hurt you (state what you did). That was thoughtless and wrong. Forgive me, I will try to do better in the future.”
If you cannot seek forgiveness personally, see the person you hurt forgiving you. In your thoughts, approach the person as a child would. Make your apology. Then see the person you have wronged forgiving you and giving you a loving hug..
End the either of these exercises by taking another Calming Breath and repeating, “That was then, this is now” as you breathe out.
The more you practice forgiveness and letting go the easier it will become to free yourself of past hurts.
Tip five: Remember what matters and what matters most is always making your part of the world better, being generous in spirit to all, and practicing kindness.
Some final thoughts: Strengthening your self-soothing skills. My 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Exercises are research based and easy to practice self-soothing exercises. New to this idea or this blog? Go here for an introduction to the 12 Daily Exercises or spend $2.99 for my e-Book Self-soothing:How To Create Calm In Your Life.
Thank you and stay strong: Practice Kindness right now by liking, commenting, or sharing this and other EFT posts, free downloads, or other products.
Links of Interest
Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- The five components of emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
- An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents (amazon.com)
- Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises.
Disclaimer one: Emotional Fitness Training is not therapy. Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest. Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what like me. Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability, Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.