The first three Emotional FItness Skills take you on the path to the fourth skill. That one? Thinking before acting. Not as easy as you think.
WHY THINKING IS SO HARD TO DO: The Freudians and the Behaviorist are two of the best known schools trying to figure out why people behave the way they do. They are miles apart in most things. Not on this. Both agree on the power of pleasure over pain.
Even that idea bears a bit of thought for some people seem to like pain. Here are two reasons why.
First: people seem to like not the pain but the high that appears when pain vanishes. Think of the pain of fear when you think you are headed for a horrible automobile crash and the high of the relief when you don’t crash. Think of the even higher relief when you crash but are not hurt.
This explains much risk taking behavior, but also why some stay in abusive relationships.
Second: The need for certainty. Cognitive theorist Jerome Kagan is the leading authority on this. He notes that infants and children in their first efforts to understand the world accept what is as normal and what should be. Abused children think abuse is normal.
Kagan makes the point that we like change, but only small changes. Changes that shake our world view shake us in painful ways.
As a foster parent, I saw how too much change drove some of our foster children to act out. Living with new parents meant living with change.
Most threatened were the foster children in our care who had been seriously abused. More than having to cope with a new environment, living with parents who didn’t abuse was the scariest change for these foster children. Why? Living with us created uncertainty about their parents love.
John, one of our foster children pleaded with us to,”Just hit us hard, you are nicer than our parents and that hurts.”
The physical pain was more bearable than the thought that parents were not supposed to be abusive.
A number of our foster children had been adopted as infants. Until they reached their teens, they accepted what their adoptive parents said. That was usually, something about their being loved enough to be given away. Hard for some of us to swallow but until puberty set in, most adopted children did not question the truthful of this. Then for some moving into their teen years, meant being able to think more deeply. As with John, adopted children did not want to think that maybe their birth parents just didn’t care.
Complicated? You bet. Which is why you need to learn to think harder before acting as a feeling urges you to act.
The first thing to think about is if you need to act. Feelings want you to act and often sound a 911 siren telling you to act quickly without thinking. Not helpful. This Poster Coach gives you some ideas to think about before acting.
In order to think wisely we need to know and name the feeling visiting us, then we need to stop and self-sooth. That is what the previous sessions have been focused on. If you haven’t started the course at the beginning, do so now. Here is session one followed by the others.
Most parents do not understand how children think. I did not for many years, and I am supposed to know those things. I am surprised at how many Parent Advisors and therapist still don’t tailor their suggestions to the child’s thinking age and stage. So here is a link to one of my posts about How Children Think.
Learning when to act immediately on a feeling’s urging. Actually never, but in some situations you need to think only for a few seconds before acting.
POST INSPIRATION: DAILY PROMPT
I often use these prompts to spark my posts. They work to improve critical thinking which is the heart of emotional intelligence. Critical thinking is about thinking more deeply and ruling out some common thinking erros.
You can think about the prompts as they are stated or use them to spark other thoughts which is what I usually do. If I put on my thinking cap the prompts can be related to Emotional Fitness. Here’s how I did that for this post.
DAILY PROMPT Buyers, Beware? The year is 2214, and your computer’s dusty hard drive has just resurfaced at an antique store. Write a note to the curious buyer explaining what he or she will find there. (Thank you for suggesting a similar prompt, Auntysocial!)
How this relates to emotional fitness and today’s post: Easy because unless we have all become machines, people will still need at least one or two of my exercises. So they will find a list of my EFTI books including this 101 work course in its final form as a work book. Hopefully, there will also be a working link all other EFTI material.
All the handouts and poster coaches for this course are being posted at the store so you can download them for free (Handouts are in Black and White while Poster Coaches are in color.)
Some might not be up yet. I am a Jill of all in this business, so some things take longer than others. If a handout isn’t posted yet, you will find lots of other offerings including inspirational quotes or more EFTI exercises.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- Jerome Kagan ( goodtherapy.org )
- The Pleasure Pain Principle ( changingminds.org )
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
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Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.