ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: Old, Limiting Beliefs.

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Have you read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? It was published in 1997 and was a New York Times bestseller for more than a decade. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend reading it. He says that your limiting beliefs are “agreements” that you made as a result of your childhood experiences. These agreements are what your mind decided to agree to in order to make sense of incidents that occurred in your life.

Let’s look at an example from my life to demonstrate this: when I was in middle school, taking a semester of music (choir) was mandatory. One day in class, each student had to stand up in front of the class, one by one, and sing part of a song. The teacher was trying to sort out our individual voice types, alto, soprano, tenor, etc. When it was my turn, I started singing. The teacher cut me off early and looked at me very unimpressed. She pointed and mumbled something like, “you’ll be over there”, and that was the end of it. I don’t even remember what voice she determined I had. All I remember was my thought at the time which was, “you have a horrible voice, and you can’t sing.” I remember feeling really bad inside after my little performance. I felt embarrassed because of how she reacted in front of the whole class. I also felt disappointed and a little hurt. That was the first time anyone had ever assessed my voice. Prior to that, I thought my voice was fine. Not only did I feel like I could sing, but I loved singing. I would sing at the top of my lungs to my favorite artists at home. I had been singing since I was a little girl. After her judgement of me that day, I made an “agreement” to believe that I couldn’t carry a tune and that I had a bad singing voice. From that day on, I was self-conscious when I sang. I made sure I never sang loud enough for anyone else to hear. Whether it was singing hymns at church, singing the National Anthem at a ball game, or singing in the car with my high school friends, I always held back.

A similar situation also happened when I was in middle school. This time it was in English class. I remember seeing my teacher getting excited about papers written by some of my classmates. When I got my papers returned to me, there was no excitement and little to no eye contact. It was like I didn’t exist. My mind (in an attempt to protect me) made the “agreement” that I am not a very good writer. After that experience with that teacher, I made the decision that English class was a drag and that I wasn’t very good at it. When I went into high school, I remember already thinking that I wasn’t going to do well in English class. So, anytime we got to a difficult segment (like reading Shakespeare), I chalked it up to, “I’m not good in English.” In college, I did very well in business writing. In my mid-30’s, I was encouraged by a mentor to write every day because he felt I had the potential to be a great writer and could possibly write a book one day. However, because of that old, limiting belief, I ignored what he said. That was 15 years ago. Looking back, I wish I would have taken his advice. Just think of how my writing skills would have improved if I would have committed to writing every day? I probably could have authored a book by now. He saw something within me that I didn’t (couldn’t) see. I decided that my “agreement” which was based on a middle school English teacher’s lack of interest in me was more truthful than my proven experience in college and what my mentor saw in me.

Here is the problem with negative, limiting beliefs: they get formed when we are very young, and they get formed when we are in some kind of emotional distress. The mind tries to protect us by making an “agreement” about the situation (which later becomes our belief) in order to keep us from experiencing that kind of distress and discomfort ever again. Can you see, however, how the beliefs that were formed limit you for the rest of your life? Looking at it logically, should a teacher’s apathy determine my future life experiences? I have to take an inventory of my old agreements and adjust them. And, if necessary, I need to process the hurtful experiences from middle school, so that I no longer let them define who I am or who I am capable of being in my life.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: How negative beliefs are formed.

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Have you ever felt like you are not good enough? This is a common belief that many of us have (whether we want to admit it or not). Let’s look a little deeper into the cause of this particular belief. When we were children, we were physically smaller than the adults around us, and of course, didn’t know as much as they did. Every day, we learned more about the world. We had to learn how to communicate with our parents in order to get our needs met. We had to learn how to get along with our siblings in order to survive in our household. We had to learn what behaviors were safe and unsafe so that we didn’t injure ourselves. Socially, we had to learn how to interact with neighbor kids, classmates, teachers, coaches, and other adults. There was a lot for us to learn. And, the way we learned was through trial and error.

Think about how many times you heard the word “No” growing up. Largely, adults talk to children as if they should “know better.” Parents and older siblings don’t consciously keep in mind that the child they are in charge of truly doesn’t know any better. The child is learning, and the only way to learn is through taking some kind of action and then getting feedback on it. The child is experiencing life in real time and is getting direct feedback in order to know if that was a good action to take or not. In the future, the child will remember what he or she learned and will make a better choice next time.

Remember back to when you were a child. What were your learning experiences like? Were you yelled at when you had less-than-perfect behaviors? Did you hear the words, “Shame on you?” Were you hit as a way to reprimand you? Or, on the flip-side, were you ignored? Were your caregivers too busy to pay attention to you? All of these reactions make a child think and feel like he or she is not good enough. This is how this belief gets formed. If you were overly reprimanded or shamed for an action you took as a child and were made to feel as if “you should have known better,” you most likely internalized this feeling and formed the belief that you are not good enough.

As children, we idealize our parents. This means that we do not question them or their behaviors (no matter how crazy or wrong we perceive them to be). We know deep down that it is not safe to question our parents. They provide our food, shelter and clothing. In our minds, we know we need them for survival. To question their behaviors (or sanity) is a dangerous road for us to travel down. Instead, it is much safer for us to internalize their behavior and make it about us. As adults, we must look back at some of our childhood experiences and take an honest assessment of what really happened and how that has impacted the way we feel about ourselves today. We have to reassure ourselves that our behaviors during childhood were reasonable given that we didn’t know better. It’s not that we weren’t good enough. It’s that we were taught by caregivers who, by and large, forgot that we were little beings trying to learn in the best way we knew how.

Next week, we’ll continue to explore how limiting beliefs are formed and how they negatively affect us today.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Fear

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Fear is the emotion that arises when your body perceives danger. Once triggered, it will stimulate your adrenal glands to release adrenaline (epinephrine) into your bloodstream. This chemical response signals you to fight or take flight in order to protect yourself. In the case of dire circumstances where you intuitively know that you aren’t strong enough to fight “it” and know that outrunning the danger is also not an option, you may freeze instead.

You should always listen to your body when it sends the fight or flight signal…ALWAYS! Here is an example… I went to an appointment one day at a building I had never been to. My appointment was on the third floor, so I decided to take the elevator. After the meeting, I got on the elevator to go back to the first floor. The elevator stopped at the second floor and a man who looked like a maintenance person got on the elevator. Instantly, my blood started pumping. My adrenaline was through the roof. I didn’t even think and immediately got off the elevator onto the second floor. The elevator door closed with me standing on a floor I had no intention of being on. I can’t explain to you what happened, logically, but physically, my body told me to get the hell off the elevator NOW! Maybe this type of situation has happened to you, possibly when walking to your car in an unfamiliar parking lot after dark. Whatever the case, ALWAYS listen to that type of fear.

I want to caution you here. Your mind is so conditioned to want to fit in and be accepted that it will cleverly intercede if you give it any opportunity. Furthermore, the brain is lazy (you can look this up on YouTube to learn more.) In the elevator example, if I would have waited even a milli-second, my mind would have tried talking me out of getting off the elevator. It would have said, “Why are you doing that? The guy looks normal enough,” or “Don’t get off the elevator now, he’s going to think you think he’s a psycho,” or “What are people going to think if I get off on this floor? I don’t know anyone on this floor” or “If I get off here, I’ll have to wait for the elevator to come back again.” Do not listen to these rationalizations! These are similar to the explanations people give when they hear gunshots. The mind right away thinks it is fireworks, rather than gunshots, because if it is gunshots, it would mean that they have to do something, like get the heck out of there. If it’s fireworks, they can just ignore it and go about their business. In this way, the brain is lazy. Don’t trust the brain’s laziness over your instinctual fear and subsequent adrenaline rush.

Fear is a warning energy. Its purpose is to protect you. If you block or resist your fearful feelings, you will feel overwhelmed and anxious as a result. I think many of us feel this way due to the fearful/violent situations that are happening in our communities, countries and the world. Deep down we feel the fear, but there is nothing that we can do with it. No amount of adrenaline is going to protect us from what is happening to others. Think about all of the shootings in schools and public places. Think about kids and young adults that go missing. There are a lot of frightening things going on in the world right now. I know for myself, I can’t go into a movie theater without planning what my exit route will be in case a shooter enters the room. I shouldn’t have to feel fear and anxiety when I go to the movies, but I do. Just know that when your adrenaline starts pumping, you need to take action immediately. Don’t think about it, just get yourself to safety.

Next week, we’ll explore the relationship between thoughts, feelings and actions. This is how beliefs are formed.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Scared

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Feeling scared is a normal and natural feeling that occurs when you start something new (a.k.a. going into unknown territory). Think about the times you have started a new job. Did you feel nervous, anxious, tense and excited at the same time? That is what feeling scared feels like. It’s butterflies in the stomach. It’s sweating. It’s shakiness. It’s uncomfortable. Feeling scared is the body’s way of alerting you that you are going into unchartered waters, and you have no idea what the outcome will be. We are instinctually wired to protect ourselves. Emotions arise when there are potential threats to our “safety.” Think of emotions as mini smoke alarms that are trying to get your attention to take a second look at what is going on around you. It doesn’t mean that you have to panic and call 911, and it also doesn’t mean that you should ignore them because they are going off all the time. Feelings are the way your body signals you to pay attention because you may have to do something to protect yourself.

If you block, ignore or repress your scared feelings, you will become confused and immobilized. Instead of preparing to start the new job (picking out what you are going to wear, planning what route to take, thinking about what you’ll do for lunch the first day), you’ll fall into a funk and unceasingly question whether or not you made the right decision. You’ll spend (waste) time mulling over the interview and if there was a personality that you may not be able to work with. Or, you’ll question the length of the commute, the starting pay and the title of the position. “Is this really the right move for me?” will be the focus of your mind if you block your scared feelings. This is the mind’s attempt at keeping you safe. Even if you can’t stand your current job, at least you know what to expect every day, and the mind will take that familiarity as safety and security. In this case, if you listen to the mind instead of allowing and acknowledging your scared feelings, you’ll most likely call and back out of the new job opportunity in an attempt to feel safe and secure.

Just because a feeling is uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move forward. It just means that something is being activated within you. It means that your body is out of its comfort zone. Rather than stopping the forward motion, just pay attention to what you are feeling and why. Listen to your feelings. Acknowledge them. Validate them. Process them. And then, release them. They are there to help you.

Next week, we’ll look at the difference between feeling fearful and feeling scared. Feeling scared is uncomfortable. Feeling fearful will get the adrenaline pumping and put you into a state of fight or flight.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Sorrow

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The feeling of Sorrow is designed to help you grieve your losses. When you don’t give yourself permission to grieve, you’ll turn into an emotionally hardened person and become indifferent to those around you. Sorrow differs from sadness. Sadness arises when you have to face an ending. Sorrow arises when you have a loss in your life… a loss that you can’t get back, ever. If you’ve lost someone important in your life, you know the feeling of sorrow.

I’ve experienced sorrow a couple of times, and those were definitely the most painful experiences in my life. One of those deeply painful times was when my dog passed. He was my companion for 12 years. I have emotion arising as I write this even though he passed over five years ago. (That’s when you know it’s sorrow!) He was with me through so many events in my life… completing graduate school, getting divorced, getting married again, and going through another divorce. In addition to being my quasi-therapist, he was also my travel buddy. He and I traveled in my Ford Explorer from Wisconsin to the East coast to explore a possible move to North Carolina in my late 20’s. After realizing how d?#@ hot and humid it was there, I decided to move to the West coast instead. I packed up the U-Haul, hitched it to the back of my Explorer, and we headed to Portland, OR. In a year’s time, my dog had traveled 3000 miles with me and swam in two different oceans. Years later, he was there to welcome my one and only child home. They soon became best buds.

In addition to being with me during so many important moments in my life, I was also there for him. He was a German Shepherd… enough said. He got in so much trouble, giving me the first of my gray hairs. I was his protector as much as he was mine. He loved to chase anything that ran and would catch it, if possible. I had to apologize to several cat-owners as they came out of their houses to find their cat up a tree and my Shepherd with his teeth bared at the bottom. One time, he ran into a neighbor’s house as she stood in the doorway on the phone. Unfortunately, she must have let her parakeet out of the cage for the afternoon because a few moments later, out came the bird into the wild blue sky with my dog right behind. I don’t think the neighbor noticed because she was still on the phone, so I high-tailed it into my house with my dog and didn’t come back out for a long time.

When it came time to say goodbye to my dear pet, I decided that I wanted him privately cremated. My gracious sister coordinated all of the details with my vet. I kept his ashes in the paw-print container on a bookshelf in my bedroom for a year and a half before I was ready to spread his ashes and say goodbye forever. Grieving can take years because the loss is so great in one’s life… and that’s okay. After five years, it gets better. Alternatively, if I would have just said, “Well, he’s gone. Dogs don’t live as long as humans. It’s just the way it is” and didn’t recognize or appreciate the meaningful connection we had, I would have buried my grief. And, I’m sure that a part of me would have become closed off as a result. That is the purpose of Sorrow… to truly grieve our losses and process the deep emotional pain associated with the loss.

In our rat race society today, I don’t think we give ourselves the time to feel our feelings and fully process the events in our lives. Everyone is so quick to move on because we can’t afford to slow down or miss a beat. That is unfortunate. Some people (as well as pets) have significantly impacted our lives and when they are gone, it really hurts. There is no one or no thing that can replace the essence of that relationship and what they brought into our lives. It’s a loss that is honored by the level of grief it invokes.

Next week, we’ll explore what feeling scared means. It’s a normal, uncomfortable feeling that has something to tell you…

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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