Emotional Intelligence: What is Emotional Intimacy?

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

Emotional Intelligence: What is Emotional Intimacy?

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Emotional intimacy begins with deep self-knowledge.  It’s the degree to which you can stand emotionally naked, unafraid of what is deep within.  It is the ability to be yourself 100% without fear of harm or rejection.  The better you know yourself, the more comfortable you are in your own skin.  And, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you will be with others.  To start this process, you’ll need to get in touch with the ways you’ve been emotionally wounded in your life.  Armed with this knowledge, you will understand your “triggers” and be able to process your own stuff when others bother you.  This is a necessary skill in order to have a healthy, emotionally intimate relationship with another person.

When an experience harms us, we develop a thought in response to it.  Here is a fictitious example that demonstrates this dynamic.  When I was growing up, my mom threw things when she got angry.  My unconscious thought in response to these incidents was “She is crazy.”  That’s a logical thought based on her unpredictable and explosive response to situations.  As I aged and had experiences with other women who emotionally over-reacted to situations, my belief broadened into “Women are crazy.”  It’s my mind’s way of protecting me from getting hurt.  Now, fast-forward 10 years.  I’m married and have a crazy mother-in-law (according to me).  My “crazy” belief is now affecting my ability to get along with my mother-in-law which is negatively affecting my relationship with my spouse.  If I’m unaware of my own childhood wound, my “crazy” belief and the subsequent emotional trigger, I will always feel it’s her, and not me.  And, because of my belief, this issue will continue to cause problems in my marriage.

In order to get to know myself better, I can start by looking at the things that cause me distress and discomfort in my outer world today.  Everything that is going on in my life, I have a hand in co-creating.  From a larger perspective, anything that negatively affects me is somehow related to some aspect of myself that needs healing.  In other words, my experiences in life are reflecting back to me my beliefs which were created by some hurtful incident in my life.  Being able to honestly look at this is the first step in getting to know myself at a deeper level.

Another way to do this is to look back at your life from birth to now.  List 50 incidents that have caused you discomfort, emotional pain or loss.  From there, identify the top ten incidents that have caused you the most pain in your life.  Then, pinpoint the top three.  Select one of these incidents.  Start to think about the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that developed within you as a result of this incident.  Start to pay attention to how those thoughts and beliefs affect how you see others around you.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I make assumptions?
  • Do I unconsciously do things to protect myself?
  • Do I avoid certain people and situations?
  • Do I have unresolved feelings associated with that original incident?
  • How do my beliefs affect how I am in relationships?

This is how you start to get to know yourself at a deep level.  Once you know yourself, understand your triggers (wounds) and take the steps necessary to heal from the past, you will feel more comfortable in your own skin.  This will enable you to be more emotionally available which will lead you to more meaningful, harmonious relationships in your life.  Next week, we will look at the concept of Nurturing and its importance in your daily 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: The Four Emotional Dependency Needs

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There are four underlying needs that we needed to have demonstrated and fulfilled when we were growing up in order for us to function today as emotionally-mature, psychologically-balanced adults.  Those needs are emotional intimacy; nurturing; unconditional love & acceptance; and boundary protection.  Since the average emotional age of Americans is 14 years old, I’d be willing to bet that if these needs were 30 – 50% met in childhood, that would be a miracle.  The reality is that most of us are walking around unconsciously trying to get these needs met through those that are closest to us.  The problem is two-fold.  One, it keeps us dependent on others to feel safe and secure.  And two, the people we are trying to get these needs met through do not have them fulfilled either.  People can’t give you what they don’t have, and you can’t give others something that you don’t have.  I refer to this cycle as “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”  (Refer to the Johnny Lee song on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.)

Over the next four weeks, I will be describing each of these needs in detail.  The more you can fulfill these needs on your own, the less emotionally dependent you will be on others and the more safe, sane and secure you will feel in your daily life.  This quote does a good job of explaining this dynamic:

“As a child, I needed a parent’s love, nurturing, and emotional maturity to fulfill my emotional dependency needs.  As an adult, I still seek to get my emotional dependency needs met, but now I must get my needs met from within.”

Here are the definitions of each of the four emotional dependency needs:

1. Emotional Intimacy – the degree to which you know yourself and feel okay with who you are. It’s the level of intimacy you have with yourself and are able to have with others.  The more you know and understand yourself, the more comfortable you will feel with others.  Intimacy means that you are not afraid to look deep within to examine yourself, even when you’ve displayed less-than-perfect behavior.  Intimacy allows you to feel emotionally close with yourself and others without fear of harm or rejection.

2. Nurturing – the ability to care for yourself. Nurturing activities include displaying love and warmth to yourself and others, having a healthy and balanced schedule/routine, investing in your own self-care (plenty of rest, healthy diet, regular exercise, etc.) and participating in meaningful activities (hobbies, social groups, volunteering, taking classes, etc.).  Feeling nurtured is the natural state of your being when it’s in harmony.

3. Unconditional Love and Acceptance – the ability to fully understand and validate that whatever is, is and that whatever happened, happened. We all have a deep need to be unconditionally loved and accepted.  Unconditional love does not mean condoning, excusing or rationalizing your own or anyone else’s behavior.  Instead, it means that you accept and love yourself and others regardless of less-than-perfect behavior.  Unconditional love does not mean that you minimize the harmful things that were done to you or that you may have done to others.  Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that all of your experiences are ultimately for the evolution of your soul.

4. Boundary Protection – the ability to set and protect your boundaries. Your boundaries promote and protect your integrity.  You will need to learn how to set boundaries in order to feel emotionally and physically safe and affirm your personal power.  This creates a sense of safety in your world.  When you were a child, you did not have the power or wisdom to stop others from crossing your boundaries.  Now that you are an adult, you are able to use your personal power to set mature, functional boundaries so that you feel safe, sane and secure in the world.

In summary, in order for us to be highly-functional, emotionally-mature, psychologically-balanced adults, we need to shore up any deficiencies in these four emotional developmental needs.  Next week, we will explore Emotional Intimacy in more detail.

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: Tarzan and His Ape-Like Behavior

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Why does Tarzan act like an ape? Because he was raised by apes.

Is his ape-like behavior his fault? No.

What happens when he meets Jane and realizes he is a human? What if he wants to have a more human lifestyle? Is it his responsibility to change, correct or heal his ape-like behavior? Yes.

The same scenario holds true for all of us. It is totally normal to behave in ways that were modeled for us when we were growing up. When we get older and start having relationships and jobs, we start to become aware that the behaviors that were modeled for us might not be very effective. As young adults, our behavior truly isn’t our fault (just like Tarzan). However, as we age and learn that our behavior isn’t serving us very well, it becomes our responsibility to change, eliminate or adjust the behavior based on the results we’d like to get. In other words, if Tarzan wants to go out to dinner with Jane in London, he’s got to give up eating with his hands and learn how to use a fork.

There is one area of our lives that most of us are ineffective in and that is dealing with and processing feelings. It’s because that behavior wasn’t modeled for us when we were growing up, so we really have no idea how to do it (effectively). In fact, the average emotional age of Americans is 14 years old (this includes our parents). If you are starting to feel uncomfortable thinking about this, know that you are completely normal. It’s normal to not want to think about our parents in this light because of the core ego defense Parental Idealization (which I have defined in a previous post).

As a result of Parental Idealization, we either unconsciously model (copy) our parents’ behavior, or we make a conscious decision to do the opposite. For example, if my dad was very critical and demanding, I’m either going to grow up being critical and demanding, or I’m going to be accepting, nice and easy-going (a.k.a. a people-pleaser). The problem is that neither of these behaviors are effective in all situations. Ideally, I’d have the choice to be critical when need be and then have the ability to be easy going when that is appropriate. Unfortunately, with Parental Idealization, we become locked into the same or opposite trait. There is no choice, and there is no in-between/balanced state.

If you are feeling brave and want to learn something about yourself, try this exercise. Take a piece of paper, and draw a line down the center, making two columns. On one side write “Mom” and on the other write “Dad”. Now, pick which parent you want to start with, and write down all of the behaviors and personality traits you don’t like about him/her. Note that this exercise is pretty uncomfortable. You are not bashing Mom and Dad here. You are merely trying to understand what behaviors you may be modeling. List the undesirable, irritating and negative behaviors for both parents. When you are done, go through the list and ask yourself, “Do I model any of these behaviors or personality traits?” Circle the ones you model. Then go back through the list and ask, “Do I consciously act the opposite of any of these traits?” Even though it may seem like this is a better option, it is still worth looking at. Even if you’ve chosen to be nice and easy-going because Dad was critical, I bet this alternative behavior causes negative consequences for you in your personal and/or professional life.

The lesson from Tarzan is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. The paradox is that although “my behavior is not my fault,” it still stands that “it’s my responsibility to change it.”

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: Indecision, Doubt and Fear

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According to Napoleon Hill, author of Think & Grow Rich, there are “three enemies which you shall have to clear out – indecision, doubt and fear.”  He states, “Indecision is the seedling of fear.  Indecision crystallizes into doubt, the two blend and become fear.”  In the last chapter of the book, Hill lists six fears of which he says “every human suffers at one time or another.”  We are going to learn about those fears in this post.

Published in 1960, the book contains over 20 years of Napoleon Hill’s research on how to become “rich.”   Over that time, he interviewed more than 500 wealthy men (it seems weird to say “men” instead of people, but I guess it was that time frame in the country) to learn the secrets to their success.  If material success and monetary wealth are not your bag, this book is still relevant.  No matter what you define as success in life, you will learn a lot from this book.  To prove this isn’t just about money, here is an excerpt written by the original publisher: “The riches within your grasp cannot always be measured in money.  There are great riches in lasting friendships, harmonious family relationships, sympathy and understanding between business associates and inner harmony which brings peace of mind, measurable only in spiritual values.”

Let’s take a look at those fears.  The six fears, listed from the book in order of commonality, are:

*The fear of poverty

*The fear of criticism

*The fear of ill health

*The fear of loss of love of someone

*The fear of old age

*The fear of death

As you consider whether or not you hold any of these fears, keep this tip from Hill in mind: “Do not be deceived by the habits of these subtle enemies.  Sometimes they remain in the subconscious mind, where they are difficult to locate, and still more difficult to eliminate.”  In a past post, I wrote that one of the reasons we don’t achieve our goals is because subconsciously we’ve made an agreement (a.k.a. formed a belief) that contradicts the goal we have set for ourselves.  These agreements/beliefs are based on negative experiences we had in childhood (often before the age of five).

You can determine if you hold one or more of these fears by asking yourself two questions.  Let’s use the Fear of Poverty belief for an example.  First, ask yourself, “Do I currently have an abundance of money?”  By abundance, I don’t mean that you have a million dollars in the bank.  Abundance means that you always have enough money to live the life you want to lead and that your debt-level is in check.  The second question to ask is, “Did I have any negative experiences around money and finances when I was growing up?”  This could be actual childhood experience with poverty or it could be other negative experiences such as witnessing your parents argue or stress about money, paying bills, not being able to afford things, etc.

If you answered “Yes” to both of these questions, I’d be willing to guarantee that you have a fear of poverty planted in your subconscious mind.  If you answered “Yes” to only one question, then I would also say you probably have a hidden fear of poverty.  Remember, our beliefs create our experiences.  This is the meaning of the saying, “As within, so without,” meaning that your outside world is a reflection of your inner world.

You can apply the same two questions to all six fears.  Here is a quick summary of indicators to help you question your “outer world” experiences.

Indicators:

*Fear of poverty: always broke; never have enough money.

*Fear of criticism: working for critical people; married to a critical spouse; have critical friends; or you yourself are very critical.

*Fear of ill health: frequent illness; chronic health conditions; never really feel good.

*Fear of loss of love of someone: frequent (painful) break-ups; multiple divorces; losses in relationships.

*Fear of old age: chronic health conditions; not having enough money to support yourself.

*Fear of death: apathetic about life; not enjoying life; lack of passion/drive.

Identifying these unconscious fears is the first step in knowing what is going on “behind the scenes” in your life.  The next step is to eliminate these fears.  They need to be eliminated from the slate of your mind in order to move forward and achieve your goals in life.  If they remain, they will continue to create the same circumstances over and over because “as within, so without.”

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: The Lack of Clear Boundaries

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There is a term called Enmeshment.  Enmeshment occurs when you don’t have clear boundaries that differentiate you from another person.  Think of it as a form of emotional fusion which interferes with a clear sense of your individualized self.  The boundaries of an enmeshed person are so weak that it’s very difficult for him or her to act in individually differentiated ways.  Let’s look at an example…

“Enmeshment in my life today stems from the lack of boundaries in my childhood home. I was so enmeshed with my mother and so preoccupied with making her happy that as an adult I’m totally out of touch with what I like and enjoy. I’ve perpetuated this pattern of clutching onto another person (or organization) at work and in relationships. At work, I have dedicated myself to a project or boss and neglected myself, my health and my social life. My last relationship, which was on and off for two years, was one where I created a sense of purpose for myself by doing things for him that were not my responsibility.”

Enmeshment (the lack of clear boundaries and individual identity) starts in childhood.  We get enmeshed living with our parents and siblings.  We grow up in a family “system.”   The loss of clear boundaries and lack of individual identity happens when we are raised in a less-than-perfect family (as if a perfect family actually exists).  A family system must be balanced at the end of the day…it’s how the “tribe” survives.  The role each family member takes on to balance the system is often unconscious and dysfunctional because each family member is compensating for the imbalance of another family member.

For example, in response to a drunken father (or mother), the other parent will often be super-responsible.  He/she balances the irresponsible behavior of the other.  While that parent is being super-responsible to care for the physical and emotional needs of the family, oftentimes one of the children will take care of that parent’s feelings and will try to emotionally compensate for his/her needs that are not being met through the marriage.  None of us are super human.  No one person can take care of everything.  Someone else in the family will pick up on the unmet needs and will balance the system.

What happens as a result is that we grow up and unconsciously rely upon (use) another person (mom, dad, siblings, spouse, boss, etc.) for our sense of identity, value, worth, well-being, safety, security and/or purpose in life.  We do this because we were not able to get our needs met properly in the family system.  We came out of childhood “enmeshed” which means that our sense of wholeness comes from another person.  We try to find our sense of worth by unconsciously taking care of others needs/problems or trying to fix authority figures (parents, bosses, spouses) so that we feel loved and “safe” in the world.

We are all going to be over-connected to some degree with our family members.  The question becomes to what degree are you enmeshed?  Have you “cut the cord” and developed into a highly functional, emotionally mature, responsible, self-sufficient adult?  To what degree are you still unconsciously fulfilling others’ needs?  Are you unconsciously using someone else for your sense of value, self-worth, well-being, safety, security or purpose?  In what ways do you act in order to fit in and be accepted?  Functioning in your own individually differentiated way (a.k.a. having clear boundaries) is the key to achieving genuine emotional fulfillment in your 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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