I have spent many hours, days and years studying and practicing emotional and social intelligence, otherwise know as mindfulness. What I know for sure is that the mind is a tricky thing to understand and manage. Understanding it and the messages that it sends us provides us with the awareness that we need in order to have clarity about what is going on around us; this is the emotional and social intelligence piece of being mindful. It enables us to make choices about how we will manage a situation in an ethical and decisive way, or in line with what we believe is the right thing to do. When we choose this way of being, we are leading from our best selves, and this is the Authenticity piece of being mindful.
For those who choose to live in line with their Authentic self, adding the second piece is essential. We practice personal integrity as we are not only aware of how our behaviour affects ourself and others but, we take it one step further by doing the right thing for everyone involved, no matter what the trade off might be, good or bad, for us. At times, this may mean that we sacrifice what we want for the sake of others, and at other times, this may mean that we stand up for something we believe in and consciously set a boundary around a personal deal breaker as we are not willing to compromise one or more of our values.
There is a perception that all people who are emotionally and socially intelligent are Authentic by default but, this is far from the truth. We all know those people who are highly aware of what they do and say and how it affects others but, make a different choice for their second piece as they use this awareness only to their advantage, and with no regard for others. It often shows up in the most passive aggressive ways as they control others through anger, guilt and other emotionally manipulating strategies.
Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, indicates that “nourishing relationships have a beneficial impact on our health, while toxic ones can act like slow poison in our bodies.” I have no doubt that each of us would agree with this thought however, how many of us knows how to respond to that toxicity? And how many of us are able to manage the poison in order to survive and be left with a sense of self.
This takes being acutely emotionally intelligent by being clear about what triggers our own inauthentic way of being, or our worst selves. When we know what and/or who puts us into a defensive and reactive mode, we can feel it coming a mile away. Having this awareness gives us the time we need to re-adjust our thinking and choose a response that creates a boundary around what is coming our way that doesn’t resonate with us, and then shift away from the toxic fumes. We only have a few seconds so, knowing and feeling these signs can slow everything down and prevent us from jumping into what feels like a deadly pit of unworthiness.
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