Emotional intelligence is being able to recognize (as it’s happening) if what you’re feeling and how you’re reacting is based on the here-and-now, on what is objectively happening. Or, if your mind has automatically interpreted what is going on in a certain way, based on past programming and old wounds.
When, out of the blue, you feel taken over by strong emotions in a situation (that rationally you know isn't that big of a deal), it points to an old wound being triggered.
Navigating the aspects of life that bring up strong (and sometimes scary-feeling) emotions can be difficult. Our subconscious has lots of hidden little wounds that get "poked" by what's happening in the present moment. It's important to take it at your own pace when you're exploring your patterns.
By doing the work to recognize our reactions, we start to notice more quickly when we are being flooded by survival-stress in a situation.
It's a clear indicator, based on the intensity of that rush of emotion and the automatic reaction, that an old wound has been triggered.
This happens when something that is happening in the present moment and in your current environment reminds your subconscious mind of a time in the past when you were hurt, scared, or experiencing some other strong, negative emotion.
Because the subconscious is faster to pick up on and react to “threats” than the frontal cortex, which thinks and reasons things out, we get triggered into a reaction before we know what’s happened.
So, when I feel the sensations that I’ve grown to recognize as meaning I’m triggered (my heart starts pounding, my mouth goes dry, I feel a hot flush in my face, and I want to cry), I know I have to slow things down, using my breathing. That’s the “S” in STOP.
Next, for “T” I take notice of what’s happening in my body and mind. I get curious and practice allowing what is there to be there, naming the emotion, and allowing the sensations to pass through.
I choose to Open Up (“O”), making space for the uncomfortable things I may be feeling. And then, I practice (“P”) self-compassion in acknowledging, with love, the wounded part of me that has surged up.
When you can practice catching and recognizing your automatic reactions in challenging situations, you empower yourself to respond from a calmer, more rational, present-moment perspective.
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Learn more about Bobbi Beuree, Halifax-based Coach + Facilitator
Bobbi Beuree, Certified CAN Coach + Facilitator is located in Halifax, NS, and provides interactive 1:1 coaching services, as well as corporate workshops.