Chapter 21 of my First book: Finding MY heart and My soul. And a few emotions and feelings in between
CHAPTER 21: of my First book: Finding MY heart and My soul. And a few emotions and feelings in between
Talk about an appropriate place to find one’s WHO.
It is the reason that I have a picture of Whoville on the cover of my
WHO are YOU workbook.
In this case, Whoville was also an appropriate place to find my heart.
As it turned out, I found out,
through my new-found level of self-realization, that,
the Grinch was not the only DUDE who had a HEART that was
THREE sizes too small ☹
“Do the right thing and your heart sings” – Unknown
March 2014: Communications 101. It takes TWO to TANGO.
It was during one of our earlier sessions together that my relationship counselor, an accredited psychologist and marriage counselor, shared with me what has become one of my favorite analogies, “Communication is to a relationship what water is to a plant”. And apparently, it applies to all kinds and types of relationships; Communications between romantic couples and non-romantic ones, communications between parents and children, communications between employers and employees, Etc. Once again, that approach, communicating, sounds like the polar opposite of what I was doing during my time spent isolated during my career rut and, truth be told, my long-held tendency to not share my thoughts and frustrations with others in both my professional and personal life.
For some reason, I thought that keeping my frustrations to myself seemed like the logical thing to do. The logic being, I guess, that if you keep things to yourself, then you avoid conflict and/or hurting someone else’s feelings. By keeping things to myself, maybe, I was hoping, that the issues would just go away by themselves, or become less sensitive or less annoying over time. Kind of like the radiation levels in plutonium diminishing over time, in the case of radiation, a long time. In hindsight, on my relationship side, that rarely seems to have happened, at least not for me. When I failed to communicate, things would not just right themselves over time. Things would not just go away. Things would just get worse. And by failing to communicate, I include both communicating with others and with myself.
Oh well, enough about me and my communications shortcomings. I am aware of them now and my intention is to work on them, and that is what I have been doing, especially my listening skills. And given my newfound belief in awareness being 9/10th of battle, I believe that my future on the communication front is looking pretty rosy.
And speaking of awareness, it just dawned on me recently, that improving my communications skills is only half the battle. Apparently, communication is a two-way street. I can work on my communication skills all I want, but if the person I am trying to communicate with is not willing and/or able to so as well, it will all be for naught. Have you ever tried having a conversation with a chair? Or with a rock? Or with me, in my nasty days?
One of my new favorite sayings is that “it takes TWO to TANGO”. If you don’t believe me, try and see how long you can continue communicating with someone who does not communicate back? See how long you can keep that up? Feel how that feels?
Picture this! Picture a really well meaning, caring and loving gardener watering a plant, watering it every day. The only problem is that the gardener is not getting any water in return. After a while, the gardener, just like a plant with no water, will start to get very thirsty, and will eventually just shrivel up. Not fun. Take it from me. I have been there. I don’t intend to go back.
So, time to take my TANGO lessons, and like all lessons, it boils down to practice, practice, practice. And focus, focus, focus. When my son is trying to tell me something, I have found that the effectiveness of the communication is much higher, if I look at him while he is talking. Drying the dishes can wait.
Oh! and I am going to want to be more selective in choosing my Tango partners. My preference and focus will be on ones who are also open to continuing to improve on their tango dancing (a.k.a. communication) skills as well.
March 2016: Emotions 101. Failing MY EQ test. Yes, Martians have emotions too.
Emotional Intelligence (a.k.a. EI). I don’t remember when I first came across the concept but, when I did, I decided that the best way to dive into and explore it was via, you guessed it, another self-assessment. I came across one in the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves. On the book cover it was mentioned that it was “the world’s most popular Emotional Intelligence test”. And besides, it included an endorsement from The Dalai Lama on the cover. How could I go wrong?
So, I took the self-assessment, and when I got my score back, I quickly realized that something had gone wrong, I was not sure what, but my score was terrible. My overall Emotional Intelligence Score (i.e. MY EQ test) was 55, which was described in the book as “a concern that I must address”. Yikes. And I had shortcomings and “concerns” on both of the Emotional Intelligence dimensions. Supposedly, I had more than a few problems when it came to both being self-aware of my own emotions (a.k.a. EQ Dimension 1), and in being aware of the emotions of others (a.k.a. EQ Dimension 2). Yikes! A double whammy. O.K. What to do? Humm.
Well luckily for me, my coaching program came with access to a whole bunch of tools. One of them was a cheat sheet that included a laundry list of emotions, all conveniently grouped into categories like anger, fear, sadness, pain, happiness etc. Well, talk about making it EASYer on myself. I could cheat, using a cheat sheet. I was almost being encouraged to cheat by being provided with the cheat sheet, and so I did. I printed off the cheat sheet and carried it around with me. Here was this 50-year old Martian, wandering around with his “emotions” cheat sheet, which he would pull out and refer to, whenever he would encounter some type of emotional reaction from either himself or someone else.
Well, you know what? It seems to be working. Before you knew it, I really started to get a better handle on how I was feeling. The cheat sheet helped, and so did some of the exercises in the “Emotional Intelligence” book. But, what really helped the most, was summoning up the courage to share and discuss my emotions with others. Yes, Captain Courageous had shown up in the latter part of those days and, unlike Captain Comfort Zone, he was not afraid to initiate a conversation on the emotions front. It was more difficult to share them with guys than gals at first (must be a Martian thing) but soon he (i.e. me) became quite inclusive in engaging with people. Engaging with others and engaging with myself.
If I was feeling down, instead of ignoring how I was feeling, I would pull out my cheat sheet and first try and find out how I was feeling, and then I would try and figure out what was making me feel that way. Once I had a better sense of what was causing my emotional reaction, I was in a better position to do something about it, which sometimes included just letting it pass.
And by trying to figure my emotions out, I soon discovered that I had more success by using my heart than by using my head. I had spent enough time in the past in my head. It was time to let my heart do some of the connecting. The heart is a muscle. And like all muscles, if you don’t use it, it shrinks and it atrophies. Kind of like what happened to the Grinch in “the Grinch who stole Christmas”. In my case, it felt like someone had stolen mine. Not only was it several sizes too small, it seemed to have gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave). I was like the tin man in “The wizard of Oz”. I had no heart. What did the wizard do with it, I wondered? Well, it was time to start using it again. After all, that is where we feel things, in the heart, and not in the head.
Long story short, I continue to make progress on the emotional intelligence front. Although my score continues to improve, I am reminded that there are still things that I should work on. So, work on them I do, by practicing them. But this time around, I will practice with others, after all, it takes TWO to TANGO. And this time around, I will be leading with my heart and not my head. These days, every now and then, instead of asking people “How are you today?” I have started asking them, “How are you feeling today?”, and that includes me. Yes, Asking me. “Dave, how are you feeling today? Wow! Feeling one’s feelings. How cool is that!
June 2016: Relationships 101.
It takes TWO to TANGO. Relationships is another area where that analogy would seem to apply. Unfortunately for me, “relationship management” was the category of the “Emotional Intelligence” self-assessment in which I scored the lowest. Yikes. You would think that someone who had been the program director for a “Relationship Development Program” in a previous role would have a better grasp of relationships than that. Yikes. Sounds like someone needs to take some tango lessons.
Speaking of relationship development programs, when I think back to that program, there is one word that often comes to mind and that word is the word “Trust”. Humm. Interesting. I can’t help to think that if you trust someone, it will make things a lot easier in communicating with them. When I think of sharing emotions with someone, really opening up the kimono, and sharing one’s true feelings, I can’t help but think that trusting them is a huge enabler on that front as well. To that end, one could surmise that trust is an important part in developing and maintaining relationships. And you know what they say about trust, “it is hard to gain, but easy to lose”.
Time to revisit my list of values to see if “HONESTY” is on there somewhere. And while I am at it, I will take a look to see where “AUTHENTICITY” is located. Trying to be someone that you are not. Trying to come across as someone that you are not. Talk about a show stopper on the relationship front. Good thing that I have finally decided to find myself. To truly find myself. To find Dave. It might have taken me a while, but you know what they say, “It is never too late to learn a new dance step”. In my case, the tango, the relationship tango.
July 2016: Spirituality 101 and the Top 12 List of Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening
Spirituality. That was a biggy! I had recently connected on many fronts, including my heart, but was I ready to connect with my soul? My spiritual self? Spirituality, I had difficulty in spelling it in those days, far less understanding what it meant. And part of that ignorance was from a lack of desire to understand it. I had better things to do in those days than yoga, meditation and visiting the Dalai Lama on some secluded mountain in Nepal.
Anyways, long story short, I did end up trying yoga. I was introduced to it by some close friends. I still enjoy a session on occasion but I have not found it to be the life changing practice that others find it to be. Not yet. Meditation? I tried it, but, once again, not for me, at least not for now. On the visiting Nepal front? That one has yet to hit my bucket list. But, despite not connecting on all of those supposed “spiritual” fronts, I actually did end up finding my spiritual side.
Once again, I owe my spiritual awakening, or at least my understanding of it, to a list. In this case, the list was a top 12 list, appropriately named “The 12 symptoms of spiritual awakening”. I stated to read them and guess what? Guess what I realized? Apparently, as part of my journey of self-discovery and self-transformation, I had awoken on the spiritual side of things and I had not even realized it.
I was starting to do the things on the list! Not just a few of them, but most of them! And it felt good. How could it not? I was replacing a lot of my bad habits with good habits. I was worrying less, judging others and myself less, enjoying moments more, feeling more connected to others and nature etc. Not to mention one of my favorites, “Frequent attacks of smiling”. What can I say, the accountant part of me wanted to get some more ROI (Return on Investment) from having finally decided to take care of my teeth and “Colgate smile”.
At the same, by the same token, I was replacing habits that drained me of energy with ones that provided me with energy. I was replacing habits that disconnected me with others with habits that connected me to others. How cool was that! I was appreciating things more. I was enjoying the moment more and worrying less and less about the past. I was starting to worry less about the future as well.
Wow! Talk about connecting in a different way with myself and with others. If this is what it feels like to connect with one’s soul and with other souls, then I can get used to this approach. And, I much prefer the focus on the positive than the negative. A lot more energizing!
So, here is a thumbs up for spirituality and connecting with one’s soul. And speaking of souls. Maybe I was now ready to connect with my soulmate? After all these tango lessons, you would think that I was ready for a tango. A tango with my soulmate.
So, What did I learn?
How did I make change EASYer on myself 😊 (or not ☹)
Talk about connecting with others and oneself and not just via the head. In this case, I was bringing the whole arsenal to bear, both my HEART (one that had recently grown at least 3 times in size 😊), and my SOUL. Turns out that my EMOTIONS, and my Emotional Intelligence, are in my heart and in my soul, and not in my head. Ooops! Took me a while to figure that one out, but better late than never.
And, as previously mentioned, the Grinch and I, are not the only Dudes who have been missing out on the magic of these areas. ☹ Well, from one Martian to another, If you are looing at ways of how to make and maintain change EASYer on YOURselves, the Grinch and I, highly recommend taking a peek at your hearts and your souls. Oh! and don’t forget, exploring YOUR emotions. Take it from another Dude, in this case Mr. Spock from Star Trek, given the link between understanding and playing to our emotions and the resulting level of our emotional intelligence, it would seem to be the logical thing to do. 😊
That was all about me. What about YOU?What are you doing to make your journey of change EASYer on YOU? 😊 (or not ☹)
Is your E.Q. where you want it to be?
Oh! And how are you at doing the Tango?
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