A 30-Day Journey Exploring a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle – Day 26
So you gained some insight yesterday about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) on Day 25, at least I assume so. If not, I suggest to catch up because this post will make more sense.
Let me introduce my friend Mary Ferritto, 88 years YOUNG! Yes, I emphasize young. It is her heart that vibrates with youth, her wisdom and joy with poise. And, she is resolved about life. Yes, Mary gave me the permission to introduce her to you.
I will soon return to Mary. But first let me add some context.
Yesterday I briefly shared what Emotional Intelligence (EQ) simply means: “. . . an ability to understand other people (empathy) or the ability to recognize emotions, reason with emotion and emotion-related information, and process emotional information as part of general problem solving.” And I assume that anyone reading this feels very comfortable, as I did, having a solid EQ.
Now let’s be honest, did your mind wonder further to other people you know who you think might have a ‘shaky’ EQ? I am guilty of that just like you.
Yesterday I suggested to look over a simple self-assessment guide that will prompt you to look inward and identify social skills that need improvement. After I had read through the questions, one question followed me a long time thereafter: “Do you take responsibility for your reactions or do you shift blame to others?” It triggered an event of last year during Halloween that surfaced again.
Back to Mary
Look at this beautiful woman in the picture above! I met Mary about three years ago in the weekly water aerobics class we share. As I see her walking to the pool with a walker and obviously having some physical limitations, she immediately became my inspiration, especially those mornings I just don’t want to come to the pool. On those mornings I always say to myself: “If Mary can make the effort with all her limitations, I have no excuse” as we all understand the purpose of exercise. For Mary, it would mean wheelchair soon and for me limited mobility to get around.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) boils down to your ability to observe the thoughts and feelings of others and then to act accordingly.
We members of the water group are friends. Regardless of any health and physical limitations, our goal and commitment to remain active and independent while supporting each other through the ups and downs of life, and having fun has formed a strong bond among us. Members organize social activities such as luncheons, special sightseeing events, book clubs and more, always with the purpose in mind to enlighten and have lots of fun.
And so we had a Halloween event last year. We were asked to dress up. My immediate inner reaction was: “Oh no, not me! I hate dressing up.” Though I did not openly say it, my inner chatter over-powered me. I tried to find any excuse to get out of this while everyone else joyfully shared fun ideas. The more fun everyone showed the more miserable I became inside. I justified my resistance to a traumatic childhood experience.
Someone noted that I was unusually quiet and asked: “So Ute, any idea what you will wear?” “No, I am not sure I will be able to come.” Judy in her kindest way responded: “Don’t worry if you don’t know or don’t want to wear anything, just join and have fun!” I think she noted how I really felt but her kind encouragement did wonders. I showed up with an outfit (sorry, couldn’t find a picture).
EQ is also the ability to influence decision-making processes. While that might sound manipulative – and it certainly can make manipulation easier – it is also important simply to aid in the development and strengthening of relationships and to help you to get on with other people.
EQ at work
Judy showed a high level of EQ with kind understanding – ‘influenced my decision-making process’ – and definitely helped me to – ‘get on with the group.’ And fun I had! Was that a form of manipulation? Sure, but only to help me – ‘get on with other people’ and away from ‘ME.’ There is NO question who had the higher EQ!
And the highlight of the party was Mary, the oldest in the group, dressed up as the picture shows. No one had expected her to be so engaged in the party fun. She looked stunning, went through all the effort with the help of her daughter to contribute her Halloween spirit to the group so we all would enjoy it. And that despite severe physical limitations with her legs (depends on a cane or at times walker) and recovery from past health issues! An example of a high EQ.
Harsh lesson learned
Now you may understand why the one EQ self-evaluation question haunted me: “Do you take responsibility for your reactions or do you shift blame to others?” And why did this event of last year came to mind?
I had not realized before the mindful power of EQ at work. Most of us probably think that our EQ is fairly solid as I did. We show empathy for others and are kind and helpful. I submit, however, that it is a lifelong work in progress.
I realized that I was so caught up with deep-rooted feelings of so long ago. I allowed my resentments and fear of the past take over, blamed those who were responsible at the time. All that mental clutter left no room to think about what I could contribute to the fun of everyone else. It was all about ME! Where was my EQ power to take responsibility then?
This is a true example that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) takes continuous work, self-awareness and mindful training. I invite you to go through the short and simple self-assessment guide to look inward and identify social skills that need improvement. We all have work to do but the reward is immeasurable.