Emotions

Anger

The ultimate test of our EQ may be in the way we handle anger. Do we use it in productive or counter-productive ways? Does our anger lengthen or shorten our lives? Here are some of my thoughts.

Overview of Anger

There are several important things anger worth remembering:

1. It is a powerful survival tool
2. It is a response to pain (physical or psychological)
3. It is a source of energy
4. It is a secondary emotion
5. In anger mode the brain downshifts to a lower evolutionary level
6. Prolonged anger is unhealthy
7. Repressed anger is also unhealthy

Nature has developed the emotional state we call “anger” to help us stay alive. Anger sends signals to all parts of our body to help us fight or flee. It energizes us to prepare us for action. Millions of years ago we were threatened by wild animals who wanted to eat us. Now we more often feel threatened by other human beings, either psychologically or physically.

When we feel energized by anger, we might ask ourselves how we put this energy to the most productive use. As with the use of other forms of energy such as electricity or oil, we might want to use it efficiently, not wastefully.

Primary vs. Secondary Feelings

Perhaps the most helpful thing to remember about anger is that it is a secondary emotion. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel angry. We always feel something else first. One might first feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, controlled, trapped, interrogated, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we think of the emotion as anger.

Generally speaking, secondary feelings do not identify the unmet emotional need (UEN). When all I can say is “I feel angry,” neither I nor any one else knows what would help me feel better. A helpful technique, then, is to always identify the primary emotion.

Here is an example. Assume someone wants us to do something we prefer not to do. At first we feel a little pressured, but not enough to get angry. When they keep pushing us, we begin to get irritated. If they continue, we get “angry”. Such anger damages often relationships. One suggestion on how to avoid getting angry in this case would be to express your initial feeling by saying “I feel pressured” before the feeling has escalated to the point of destructive anger. If the person respects your feelings and does not invalidate them, they may stop their pressure. Even if they do not, I believe it is helpful to know what the specific feeling is. Knowing exactly how we feel with others and why helps us in several ways. First it raises our self-awareness in general. Second, it helps us communicate more precisely. Third, it helps us learn more quickly who respects our feelings and who we want to spend time with.

Anger as a Response to Fear

One of the primitive functions of an animal’s response to fear is to frighten away the attacker. But in modern human life, we often frighten away those who we need and care about most. Besides this, prolonged anger has clear health consequences. According to Dr. Herbert Benson, these include heart attacks, hardening of the arteries, strokes, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart rate changes and metabolism, muscle and respiratory problems. (The Relaxation Response, 1975)

Responding to and Learning from Anger

Anger is an intense emotion. It is evidence that we feel strongly about something. As with every emotion, it has a lesson for us. It can teach us what we value, what we need, what we lack, what we believe and what our insecurities are. It can help us become more aware of what we feel strongly about and which emotional needs are important to us. One way to learn from anger is shown in the example below:

Instead of saying,

She never should have done that. I can’t believe how irresponsible, insensitive and inconsiderate she is. What a cold- hearted, evil witch she is.

a more productive response is:

I am really upset by this. Why does it bother me so much? What specifically am I feeling? What are my primary feelings? What need do I have that is not being met? What principles of mine have been violated?

From the answers to these questions, we can decide what course of action to take in view of what our goals are. Simply being aware that we have multiple options and that we can decide to pick the best one helps soothe the anger. It may help, for instance, to ask if we really want to frighten away the person we are angry at. As soon as we “upshift” and begin to think about our options and their consequences, and make appropriate plans, we start to feel more in control and less threatened. We get out of the automatic stimulus-response mode and realize that we have choices.

I heard something very interesting once about stimulus and response. It went something like this:

For humans, there is a small space between stimulus and response, and in this spacde lies the power to make choices that will determine the course of our lives. (1)

It may be helpful for us to try to widen this space over our lives, and in fact this may be one of the signs of wisdom and maturity. It may give us an increased sense of control

Simply remembering that we have a choice helps us feel more in control. I have found it helpful, for example, to identify when I am feeling provoked. Once I realize this I feel more in control of my response. Not surprisingly, studies show that people feel better and are healthier when they have a sense of control over their lives. This is where the balance between upper brain and lower brain comes in. High EQ suggests that we channel our anger in productive ways to help us achieve our goals rather than to sabotage them. Keeping our goals clearly in mind at all times helps us accomplish this.

Here are some suggestions for responding to your anger:

1. Ask what you are afraid of.
2. Ask what feelings preceded the anger.
3. Ask what other feelings you are feeling.
4. Ask what you are trying to control.
5. Ask what you can control.
6. Consider your options.
7. Choose the one which will bring you the most long term happiness.

Finally, here is a technique I sometimes use to help me cope with “anger” (if I haven’t already “downshifted” to a purely reactive animal instinct state). When I catch myself starting to say “I feel angry” or “I am starting to get really pissed off,” I say instead, “I feel really energized.” Then I ask myself how I want to channel my energy to its best use. It is a simple little technique, but sometimes it has made a big difference in how I feel and how I respond.


1. I originally got this idea from one of Stephan Covey’s tapes. But he got it from someone else whose name he either did not mention or which I did not make a note of at the time.

Importance of Emotions

Here are a few of the reasons our emotions are important in our lives. By the way, the first few chapters of Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, has a good presentation on evolution and emotions.

Survival

Nature developed our emotions over millions of years of evolution. As a result, our emotions have the potential to serve us today as a delicate and sophisticated internal guidance system. Our emotions alert us when natural human need is not being met. For example, when we feel lonely, our need for connection with other people is unmet. When we feel afraid, our need for safety is unmet. When we feel rejected, it is our need for acceptance which is unmet.

Decision Making

Our emotions are a valuable source of information. Our emotions help us make decisions. Studies show that when a person’s emotional connections are severed in the brain, he can not make even simple decisions. Why? Because he doesn’t know how he will feel about his choices.

Boundary Setting

When we feel uncomfortable with a person’s behavior, our emotions alert us. If we learn to trust our emotions and feel confident expressing ourselves we can let the person know we feel uncomfortable as soon as we are aware of our feeling. This will help us set our boundaries which are necessary to protect our physical and mental health.

Communication

Our emotions help us communicate with others. Our facial expressions, for example, can convey a wide range of emotions. If we look sad or hurt, we are signalling to others that we need their help. If we are verbally skilled we will be able to express more of our emotional needs and thereby have a better chance of filling them. If we are effective at listening to the emotional troubles of others, we are better able to help them feel understood, important and cared about.

Unity

Our emotions are perhaps the greatest potential source of uniting all members of the human species. Clearly, our various religious, cultural and political beliefs have not united us. Far too often, in fact, they have tragically and even fatally divided us. Emotions, on the other hand, are universal. Charles Darwin wrote about this years ago in one of his lesser-known books called “The Expression of Emotion In Man and Animal”. The emotions of empathy, compassion, cooperation, and forgiveness, for instance, all have the potential to unite us as a species. It seem fair to say that, generally speaking: Beliefs divide us. Emotions unite us.

 


Human Emotional Needs

Here are some of the basic human emotional needs expressed as feelings. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food or more sleep. One person may need more freedom and independence, another may need more security and social connections. One may have a greater curiosity and a greater need for understanding, while another is content to accept whatever is told to him.

One of the major problems I have observed in schools is the treatment of all children as if their emotional and psychological needs were identical. The result is many children’s needs are unsatisfied. They then become frustrated, as any of us do when our needs are unmet. They act out their frustration in various ways which are typically seen as “misbehavior.” This is especially evident when children are expected to all do the same thing for the same length of time. The better we identify their unique needs and satisfy them, the few behavioral problems. It is also evident when they are made to do things which are not interesting to them, or when they are not challenged enough with things which are relevant to their lives. One of the things teenagers who are cutting themselves seem to have in common is they are extremely bored at school as well as emotionally neglected, over-controlled or abused at home.

In dysfunctional families it is most often the emotional needs which are not met. The children and teenagers are getting enough to eat and they have a roof over their heads, but their emotional needs are not being met.

In various degrees, each according to his or her own unique nature, we each need to feel:

accepted
accomplished
acknowledged
admired
alive
appreciated
approved of
capable
challenged
clear (not confused)
competent
confident
empowered
focused
free
fulfilled

grown or growing
happy
heard
important
in control
independent
interested
knowledgeable
listened to
loved
needed
noticed
optimistic
powerful
privacy
productive

protected
proud
reassured
recognized
relaxed
respected
safe
satisfied
secure
significant
successful
supported
treated fairly
understood
useful
valued
worthy

 


Primary and secondary emotions

Some authors use the terms primary and secondary emotions. I find this distinction quite helpful. A primary emotion is what we feel first. The secondary emotion is what it leads to.

Anger is a good example of a secondary emotion. As I discuss in my section on anger there are many possible primary emotions which, when they are intense enough, can lead to anger. We might feel insulted, pressured, cheated, etc. If these feelings are at a low level we are not likely to say we feel angry. But if they are intense, we commonly say we feel “angry.”

Depression is another example of a secondary emotion. Or we might call it a “catch-all” term. Depression can include feeling discouraged, hopeless, lonely, isolated, misunderstood, overwhelmed, attacked, invalidated, unsupported, etc. Normally it includes several feelings. These more specific feelings are what I would call primary emotions.

Secondary, “catch-all” terms like anger and depression do not help us much when it comes to identifying our unmet emotional needs (UEN’s). When all I can say is “I feel angry,” neither I nor any one else knows what would help me feel better. But if I say I feel pressured or trapped or disrespected, it is much more clear what my UEN is and what would help me feel better. An amazingly simple, but effective technique, then, is to always identify the primary emotion.


Managing Negative Emotions

These are things which seem to help with my negative feelings. I believe they can be of some help to others, but that we each must find what works for us.


General Guidelines

I have been trying to develop some general guidelines for managing negative emotions. Here is what I have so far.

First, identify the feeling. Next, ask if is a healthy feeling. Then list your options and chose the one which is most likely to lead to your long-term happiness.

Here is a personal example of how these questions have helped me.

I once went to Germany to visit a female for what I thought would be a romantic vacation. When I got there she met me at the train station with her boyfriend. I asked why he was there and she said they had just reunited and she wasn’t going with me to Paris for Christmas and New Years as we had planned. I remember laying in bed that night. I picked up a small souvenir glass that I had brought for her mother’s collection. I remember thinking that I wanted to smash it against the wall. I asked myself what I was feeling as I stared at the glass clenched in my hand. The word that came to mind was “destructive.” I said to myself, “that is not a healthy feeling.” I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and put the glass down.

After asking these first two questions, the next step is to ask what would help you feel better. I try to remember to just focus on answers which are in my control, since it would be easy, but not too helpful, to think of things ways others could change so I would feel better.

Another question is to ask how you want to feel. This helps you direct your thoughts in a positive direction.

To summarize, here are some questions I believe are very helpful:

  • How am I feeling? Is it a healthy feeling?
  • How do I want to feel? What would help me feel better (that I can control)?

Expressing Negative Feelings: Here are a few suggestions for communicating your negative feelings:

  • Don’t be dramatic.
  • Don’t wait till things build up.
  • Be brief.
  • Don’t blame or lay guilt trips.
  • Talk about how you feel.
  • Ask how the other person feels.
  • Offer a way to save face. (For example, “Perhaps I misunderstood you,” or “I know your intentions were good.”)

Depression

Depression may be thought of as secondary emotion. By this I mean that there are other feelings which contribute to and cause it. Sometimes I think of depression as an army made up of soldiers. These soldiers are the primary negative feelings one feels attacking the amygdala.   For example, one might feel lonely, rejected, discouraged, loss, grief, unfulfilled, disconnected, uninspired, unproductive, unaccomplished, uncertain, misunderstood, pessimistic. Together, all of these feelings drain our energy, kill our motivation.

It helps me to isolate each feeling, then take action or at least think about a plan to attack each negative feeling individually. In each case, ask “what would help me feel less (lonely, unproductive, discouraged)”

Here are some questions which might help you if you are trying to diagnose your own depression:

  • Have I lost something? A belief? A dream, a relationship? A vision? Is there some disillusionment? Some unmet expectation? Unfulfilled desire?
  • Am I feeling productive? Am I accomplishing anything?
  • Do I feel focussed? Do I have any goals I am working towards?
  • Am I feeling pessimistic about something? About several things? Am I feeling discouraged about something? Hopeless?
  • What beliefs are helping me feel pessimistic, discouraged, hopeless?
  • Am I looking for something on the outside to happen before I will feel better?
  • Am I feeling dependent on someone?
  • Do I feel resentful about something? About someone?   Am I feeling disconnected from my emotional support system? Do I have an emotional support system?

Then ask yourself:

  • What would help me feel more optimistic? More encouraged?
  • What beliefs can I change? (Employ the CYB theory: Change Your Beliefs)
  • What can I find to appreciate? To be thankful for?
  • What would help me feel more connected to others, or less dependent on them?
  • What could I do to strengthen my emotional support system?
  • What small goal could I achieve right now that I am sure I can do?

I find that taking my negative feelings one by one helps one feel less overwhelmed. When I feel better in just one area, it helps me feel more energized and more capable of conquering the other negative feelings.

Resentment

I have felt a lot of resentment in my life. Because of my own experience with resentment I have learned a little about it. I am still learning, and still trying to improve how I handle my own resentment but here are a few notes.   Understanding Resentment

Resentment as re-feeling

Resentment as a secondary emotion

What are some causes of resentment?

Managing Resentment

Understanding Resentment

Resentment as re-feeling. In certain languages, Spanish and French for example, sentir means to feel, so re-sentir, or resent, means literally to feel again.

Evidently, nature wants us to continue feeling something for some reason. The reason might be so we can:

– Keep feeling something till we take responsibility for something to which we contributed and thereby learn, grow and become a more valuable member of the species.

– Keep feeling something till we take some action to help remedy a socially unhealthy situation.

Resentment as a secondary emotion

Resentment seems to be a secondary emotion. By this I mean we usually feel a more primary feeling first. For example, if someone ignores me when I ask them a question I first feel a little ignored. If they continue to ignore me I might say I feel resentful towards them for ignoring me. If someone tries to tell me how to run my life, the more primary or specific feeling might be feeling controlled.

It seems helpful to identify the more primary feelings which lead to resentment, just as it is helpful to identify the more primary feelings which lead to anger. It is more helpful, for instance, to tell someone I feel ignored than to say I feel resentful towards you or angry at you. It is more helpful for these two reasons:

1. It is more clear what is causing you the pain.

2. It may be less threatening to say “I feel ignored” than to say either “I feel resentful,” or “I feel angry.”

What are some causes resentment?

It seems there are fairly universal cause of resentment. Most of us are likely to feel resentful when:

– Others try to tell us what to do, how to run our lives, what we need, what they think is best for us

– Others tell us what they think we should do, how they think we should feel, how they think we should act.

– Others feel and act superior to us.

– Others act in hypocritical ways.

– Others deprive us of our needs.

– We see those in power abusing their power and hurting others who are less powerful

– We feel falsely accused, judged, prejudged, discriminated against, labeled, ignored, attacked, hunted, persecuted, underestimated, invalidated

– We feel lied to or lied about.

Managing Resentment

One of my most valuable insights, which I call the AR3 principle, is: Accepting responsibility releases resentment. Sometimes when I find myself feeling resentful, or bitter, which is often a more intense indication of resentment, I remind myself of this. I then begin to search for ways in which I was responsible for contributing to the development of the situation. It has been extraordinarily helpful in avoiding placing “blame” on other people and on focussing my attention on my own areas for improvement, growth and learning.

The most useful way for me to reduce my resentment is to focus on how I contributed to the situation and what I could have done to prevent it. In other words, to take responsibility. I learned this after one particularly painful relationship.

I don’t believe in “magic,” but the word magical comes to mind. The power of these words, when applied, is indeed seemingly supernatural. Yet, nature has evolved certain truths, certain relationships in her complex web of life. These truths when discovered, seem like magic at first only because so few people have discovered them for themselves.

Another AR3 principle I developed is Accepting Reality Releases Resentment. This principle seems to help when there is very little we have done to contribute to a situation and there is very little we can do about it.

Disappointment

(I am re-writing this section but here are some notes….)

There seem to be at least two ways the word “disappointment” is used. For example, one day at a friend’s I opened a CD case expecting to find the CD inside, but the case was empty. I felt a combination of sadness and surprise, which fits with some academic definitions of disappointment. But I did not feel judgmental or disapproving, as a parent might feel when their child comes gets suspended from school. The parent might, for example, say “I can’t believe you got suspended! What is wrong with you??” In this case we might say disappointment is a combination of disapproval and disbelief.

I find it helpful to look at disappointment as something we do to ourselves. I say this because it seems to arise out of our own expectations or demands about how we think the world should be or how we think people should act. In other words, I look at “disappointment” as an innacurate view of reality. Looking at it this way could help us accept that we didn’t really understand things as well as we thought I did and that our expectations were unrealistic.

By looking at it this way it is easier for us to take responsibility for it and thus to reduce the negative feelings which usually accompany it. It also helps us avoid laying guilt trips on others as I explain below.

Instead of using the word “disappointed,” I sometimes try to substitute the word “disillusioned.” This helps remind me that I had created an illusion in my own mind about. Calling something an illusion suggests that my interpretation of reality was inaccurate. So when things don’t go the way I expected or wanted them to go, it seems to help if I take the perspective that I created a false image of reality in my mind and I need to quickly adjust myself to actual reality. The sooner I do this the faster I get over the negative feeling of what I used to call disappointment. Many people use the expression of disappointment as a way of laying a guilt trip on someone else.

Consider the parent who tells the child “I am utterly disappointed in you,” or, “you really disappointed me.” Think for a moment how you feel when someone says such things to you. You might feel guilty, blamed, inadequate, unworthy, ashamed.

A woman once said she felt devastated when her father said to her “You have utterly disappointed us.”

Is this how we want our children to feel?

The father who feels disappointed does not stop to consider that it was the father himself who did not know his child as well as he thought. Turning it into an opportunity to lecture the child will hurt the child’s self-esteem by causing him to feel “failful.” The parent who uses disappointment to lay guilt doesn’t consider the long term damages to the child’s self-esteem. The parent is simply using guilt as an expedient way to emotionally manipulate the child as a form of control.1 Disappointment in another person is basically a form of rejection and disapproval. It can be powerful in its toxic affect on the self-esteem.

Another problem with telling someone you feel disappointed in them is that it encourages them to avoid sharing things truthfully with us. It helps others feel judged as well as disapproved of.

Bitterness

A more intense form of disappointment is sometimes bitterness, which tells us that not only did we expect something, but we started to count on it or depend on it.

A healthier reaction would be to let the feeling provide an opportunity to get to know the other person or the child better. By showing sincere curiosity and a desire for knowledge instead of disappointment, we open the door to understanding and bonding. In other words, we might say to ourselves, “Hmm, I expected x to happen, in fact I really wanted x to happen. I was even counting on it. I am sad, or hurt or frustrated that it didn’t happen. I wonder why it didn’t happen. What can I learn from this?” Such curiosity opens the door to seeking knowledge and helps get our thinking back in line with reality. In other words, situations where we initially feel disappointed can lead to wisdom if we allow ourselves to learn. In the case of the parent and child, the parent might learn about the circumstances surrounding the child’s life, and the way the child makes decisions based on his or her values, beliefs, and needs. The same idea applies to friends or romantic partners. Here is an example of how a mother might react when she initially starts to feel “disappointed”

“Jessica, I feel sad and confused about what you did. Can you help me understand? “

The mother might also ask: “How were you feeling when you did so and so?” or “How do you feel about it now?”

These questions, if asked without causing the child to feel interrogated or afraid, is much healthier than an expression of “disappointment.”

Footnotes

1. For a good discussion of emotional manipulation see Chapter 1 in Smith, M.J. (1975) When I say no I feel guilty. Bantam

Discouragement, Hopelessness

I am afraid this will sound simplistic, but when you are feeling discouraged and hopeless, you could look at it as just a sign that you need to find some source (or create one within yourself) of encouragement and hope. Maybe a technique would be helpful, like making a list of some things which are encouraging. Or forcing yourself to find just one encouraging thing amid your present feelings of discouragement. Maybe just find some uplifting books or articles or read a story on what someone is doing somewhere to help people. There is a huge selection of inspirational books and tapes. Some of them have helped me both during an immediate down period in my life and also in a longer term sense because I have the memory of some things they said which helped.

Another option is to seek out some optimistic, but validating people. Perhaps just tell a friend who knows you well that you are feeling discouraged and hopeful. Perhaps they will remind you of some encouraging truths.

I remember a few times I was feeling discouraged and I was able to remember some encouraging things. And it helps me to know that I have felt extremely discouraged and hopeless, even suicidal, but I have bounced back from those feelings. And I believe those feelings helped me focus on what was truly important to me.

If nothing else, write to me and say: I AM FEELING HOPELESS!

Or scream it out if you must, or cry it out — your body or your amygdala is sending you a message. Let it know that you have received it. I am not sure how the process works but it seems that once the message is fully accepted, validated and understood, it can be integrated by survival forces of the brain which go to work on solving the problem.

Once you have completely accepted that you feel hopeless, you can begin to take action to feel more hopeful. You can search for inspiring websites, books, tapes etc. You can actively thing of people who you admire, who are contributing to the world in the way you believe is needed.

When you are feeling hopeless, it can be looked at as a clear sign that you need to feel more hopeful, (or more optimistic, more encouraged, etc) in order to get back into a healthier state. I believe our survival instinct itself is a source of hope. If I truly had no hope, why would I even bother to eat? As long as your body is feeling hungry, sleepy, etc. I believe there is hope. As I see it, as long as there is one male and one female alive on earth, there is hope for the human species. Imagine that the current members of the species have somehow managed to kill everyone in your gender except you. Now imagine you have 10 seconds to chose a partner before all the other members of the opposite sex are killed. Now, ten seconds later, it is just the two of you. Would you still feel hopless? Or would you get to work on rebuilding the species?(1)

Footnotes

1. Note on the last sentence: I realize that sounds sexual if you have a mind like mine, but I honestly wasn’t thinking that when I wrote it!

Feeling Destructive

(This one contains a bit of personal ranting- even more than what is normal on this site!)

I have already given one personal example of when I have felt destructive in my discussion of general guidelines. Another example is when I was sitting in a corridor outside the Stetson Law Library. I had just talked to a law student who told me she didn’t believe in evolution, but in one of the popular religious creation stories. I paced around the sidewalks. I shook my head in disbelief. I was feeling a pain in my head and a sickness in my stomach at thought that someone could make it that far in their education and have enough intelligence to get into law school, and still believe in such irrational religious propaganda. I asked myself how we are ever going to progress as long as we have lawyers and judges who are so ignorant and closed minded.

I found myself wanting to smash something. I felt ready to explode. I had to find an outlet for my energy. I slammed my hand into the coke machine and it made a satisfying sound. But the satisfaction was short-lived. I knew I had to destroy something, or I would destroy myself. At times like these I understand those who pull their own hair out and who pound their heads against the wall (the latter was something I did as child).

I found a cardboard box. I threw it up in the are and punched it with my fist. I did this several times until I had expelled enough energy to sit down and write. After that, I discovered that my Total cereal boxes make nice objects for destruction when I am feeling destructive. I simply remove the plastic sack which holds the cereal, I throw the box into the air and smash it with my fist as hard as I can. Most boxes will take two or three punches! Perhaps the concentration involved in hitting the box in the air, and the satisfaction of a successful strike also helps to calm down the amygdala.

The amygdala is capable of initiating a sequences of chemical reactions which create extreme energy. My own brain is evidently a bit more efficient in creating such energy, as it comes quite readily. My challenge has been how to teach myself how to use that energy in a constructive way more often than in a destructive way.

Several times when I am feeling destructive, I ask myself, what do I want to destroy? A person? A relationship? No. What I want to destroy is the belief system which as led us to this point in history. The belief system that virtually destroyed my father and mother, my sisters and brothers. And which virtually destroyed me before I even knew it existed. I want to destroy the belief system which destroys the self-confidence and beauty of so many children day in and day out. I want to destroy the destructive system. Seems ironic, but it must be done. Or perhaps, rather than destroy it, I can simply create, or help create a new system, a healthier system. Amy likes the feel of that better. Leave the destroying to someone else.

Footnote for me: Here is a list of a few memories when I felt destructive and acted on it before I was able to verbalize my feelings: destroyed chair, Maile’s keychain, punched hole in closet door in Toledo, dented car door on Celica, broke door frame at IU. It brings me pain to type this list, but I think it is a healthy pain. The pain of growth.

Amy is my nickname for my amygdala

Resiliency

Goleman said that resilency was part of emotional intelligence. Mayer and Salovey, however, do not seem to ever include this, so I assume they would call it a “personality trait.” Whatever category you want to put it under, it is clear that resiliency helps us survive and “thrive.” I recently discovered a site called “thrivenet,” in fact, which includes a wealth of information on resiliency. The site is based on the work of Al Siebert who has studied what he calls “survivors.” Interestingly, his list of the characteristics of resilient people is quite similar to what I call high EQ people. The site is www.thrivenet.com

Forgiveness

I am not a big believer in what some authors have called “quick forgiveness.” Generally, I believe if someone has harmed us or the species, there is some restitution needed, or at least some acknowledgement, acceptance of responsibility or apology. I have not done much work on forgiveness. For me, I am able to forgive when someone apologizes, but not when they do not do any of the above. I think there is some value in not forgiving, but on the other hand I see that bitterness is toxic and acceptance leads to inner peace and better physical health.

In any case here is an interesting article on forgiveness: http://www.learningtoforgive.com/san_jose_mercury_news.htm from the site by a Stanford University prof, Frederic Luskin: http://www.learningtoforgive.com/

Here is a link with some research on forgiveness: http://www.forgiving.org/campaign/research.html I feel skeptical and cynical about their plea for five million dollars in donations though!

Here is another link which looks helpful, but I haven’t checked out: http://www.psyc.leeds.ac.uk/research/hlth/farp/forglinks.htm

There is also lots of stuff on forgiveness on the net. I recommend a search in google.com

1. The amygdala is thought to be a primary emotional center of the brain.


Human Emotional Needs

Here are some of the basic human emotional needs expressed as feelings. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food or more sleep. One person may need more freedom and independence, another may need more security and social connections. One may have a greater curiosity and a greater need for understanding, while another is content to accept whatever is told to him.

One of the major problems I have observed in schools is the treatment of all children as if their emotional and psychological needs were identical. The result is many children’s needs are unsatisfied. They then become frustrated, as any of us do when our needs are unmet. They act out their frustration in various ways which are typically seen as “misbehavior.” This is especially evident when children are expected to all do the same thing for the same length of time. The better we identify their unique needs and satisfy them, the few behavioral problems.

In various degrees, each according to his or her own unique nature, we each need to feel:

accepted
accomplished
acknowledged
admired
alive
appreciated
approved of
capable
challenged
clear (not confused)
competent
confident
developed
empowered
focused
free
fulfilled

grown or growing
happy
heard
helped
helpful
important
in control
independent
interested
knowledgeable
listened to
loved
needed
noticed
optimistic
powerful
privacy
productive

protected
proud
reassured
recognized
relaxed
respected
safe
satisfied
secure
significant
successful
supported
treated fairly
understood
useful
valued
worthy

 

 


 Attention

I believe that it is natural for us to seek attention. I believe this is especially true when we are in need. For example, if you were drowning, would you want attention? If your house were on fire, would you want attention?

I also believe it is natural for us to want attention when we believe we have something important to say, for instance if we wanted to warn someone of an impending danger. If you knew that a building were on fire with people inside, would you want others’ attention even if you yourself were not in danger?

I had heard parents say “Ignore him. He just wants attention.” To me this is similar to saying, “Don’t feed him. He is just hungry.”

Feeling Words List for Identifying Common Negative Feelings

 

I also have a more comprehensive list of feeling words.  

Dignity/
Respect/Self-Worth

Ashamed
Beaten down
Cut down
Criticized
Dehumanized
Disrespected
Embarrassed
Humiliated
Insulted
Inferior
Invalidated
Labeled
Lectured to
Mocked
Offended
Put down
Resentful
Ridiculed
Teased
Underestimated


Freedom/Control

Bossed around
Controlled
Imprisoned
Forced
Manipulated
Obligated
Over-controlled
Over-ruled
Powerless
Pressured
Restricted
Trapped

Love/Connection/
Importance

Abandoned
Alone
Brushed off
Confused
Disapproved of
Discouraged
Ignored
Insignificant
Invisible
Left out
Lonely
Misunderstood
Neglected
Rejected
Uncared about
Unheard
Unloved
Unimportant
Uninformed
Unsupported
Unwanted


Justice/Truth

Accused
Cheated
Falsely accused
Guilt-tripped
Interrogated
Judged
Lied about
Lied to
Mislead
Punished
Robbed


Safety

Abused
Afraid
Attacked
Frightened
Intimidated
Over-protected
Scared
Terrified
Threatened
Under-protected
Unsafe
Violated


Trust

Cynical
Guarded
Skeptical
Suspicious
Untrusted
Untrusting

 Developing Emotional Intelligence

The Top Ten Suggestions

Developing your EQ — Summary and Suggestions

 


Top Ten Suggestions

1. Label your feelings, rather than labeling people or situations.

“I feel impatient.” vs “This is ridiculous.”

“I feel hurt and bitter”. vs. “You are an insensitive jerk.”

“I feel afraid.” vs. “You are driving like a idiot.”

2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.

Thoughts: I feel like…& I feel as if…. & I feel that

Feelings: I feel: (feeling word)

3. Take more responsibility for your feelings.

“I feel jealous.” vs. “You are making me jealous.”

4. Use your feelings to help them make decisions.

“How will I feel if I do this?” “How will I feel if I don’t”

5. Show respect for other people’s feelings.

Ask “How will you feel if I do this?” “How will you feel if I don’t.”

6. Feel energized, not angry.

Use what others call “anger” to help feel energized to take productive action.

7. Validate other people’s feelings.

Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance of other people’s feelings.

8. Practice getting a positive value from their your emotions.

Ask yourself: “How do I feel?” and “What would help me feel better?”

Ask others “How do you feel?” and “What would help you feel better?”

9. Don’t advise, command, control, criticize, judge or lecture to others.

Instead, try to just listen with empathy and non-judgment.

10. Avoid people who invalidate you.

While this is not always possible, at least try to spend less time with them,
or give them psychological power over you.

 Feeling Words Sample

I believe this is world’s the most comprehensive list of “feeling words”. The full list is now over 1500 words.Some of the words in letters A-S are shown here. More are in the full list. Please help by contributing your own words to steve@eqi.org“>steve@eqi.org.

How to Get the Full List

I will send the complete file (in ASCII text format) to anyone non-business user who contributes a new word or who writes and explains how they will use the list. (It may take a few days since I am often traveling.) I would appreciate a small contribution ($5 Australian, Canadian, or US) for the full list. For business uses, please write me to discuss a mutually agreeable price.

What About Updates?

I am updating it constantly. For now, just write me for the latest additions.

A

abandoned
abhorred
abnormal
absent-minded
absolved
absorbed
abused
accepted
acclaimed
accommodated
accommodating
accomplished
accountable
accused
acknowledged
acquiescent

acquisitive
actualized
admired
adored
adrift
advanced
affectionate
affluent
afraid
affronted
agoraphobic
aggravated
aggressive
agitated
agony
alarmed
alert
alienated

alive
alone
aloof
allured
alluring
amazed
ambivalent
amiable
ambushed
amused
analyzed
angry
anguish
annihilated
anonymous
annoyed
antagonistic

anticipation
antiquated
antisocial
anxiety
anxious
apathetic
appalled
appealing
appeased
applauded
apologetic
appreciated
appreciative
apprehensive
appropriate
approved of
ardent
argumentative

artificial
artful
artistic
aroused
ashamed
asinine
astonished
astounded
at ease
at home
at war
attached

attacked
attractive
authentic
avoided
awakened
aware
awe
awestruck
awkward

B

babied
bad
badgered
baffled
balanced
banished
bankrupt
bantered

bashful
beaten
beaten down
beckoned
bedeviled
befriended
belittled
belligerent

benevolent
berated
beseeched
betrayed
bewildered
bitter
blamed
blithe

blocked
blown away
blue
bogus
bold
bored
bothered
bothersome

brave
bridled
broken
brutal
bugged
bummed
burdened
burdensome

buried
burned-out
bypassed

C

callous
callow
calm
cantankerous
capable
cared about
cared for
carefree
careless
caring
categorized
cautious
cavalier
censored
centered
certain
chagrined

challenged
charismatic
charitable
charmed
chaste
chastised
cheap
cheated
cheated on
cheerful
cherished
chided
childish
chipper
circumspect
circumvented
claustrophobic
clean

cleansed
clear
clever
close
closed
clueless
clumsy
coerced
cold
cold-blooded
cold-hearted
collected
combative
comfortable
committed
common
comparative

compared
compassionate
competent
competitive
complacent
complete
compliant
composed
conceited
concerned
condemned
considered
confident
confined
confused
conned
conquered
considerate
consistent

conspicuous
constrained
constructive
contained
contemplative
contempt
content
contentious
contrite
controlled
conventional
convicted
cornered
corrupt
counterfeit
courageous
cowardly
cranky

crazy
creative
crestfallen
crippled
cross
cross-examined
crowded
cruel
crushed
curious
cursed
cynical

D

damned
daring
dashed
daunted
dazed
dead
debased
debilitated
deceitful
deceived
dedicated
defamed
defeated
defective
defenseless
defensive
deferent
defiant
defiled
deflated
degraded
dehumanized
dejected

delicate
delighted
demanding
demented
demoralized
demure
denigrated
denurtured
dependent
depleted
depraved
depressed
deprived
derided
derailed
deserted
deserving
desirable
desired
despair
desperate
despised
despondent
destroyed
destructive

detached
determined
detest
detested
devastated
devious
devoted
devoured
different
difficult
diffident
diligent
diminished
dirty
disappointed
disapproving
disapproved of
disbelieved
disbelieving
discarded
discombobulated
disconcerted
disconnected

discontent
discounted
discouraged
discredited
disdainful
dissected
disgraced
disgruntled
disgusted
disheartened
disheveled
dishonest
dishonorable
dishonored
disillusioned
disinclined
disingenuous
disjointed
dislodged
disloyal
dismal
dismayed
dismissed

disobedient
disobeyed
disowned
disorganized
disoriented
disparaged
dispensable
displaced
displeased
disposable
disregarded
disrespected
disruptive
dissatisfied
distant
distracted
distressed
distrusted
distrustful
disturbed
diverted
divorced
doubtful
drained
dropped

drubbed
dull
dumb
dumbfounded
dumped
dumped on
duped

E

eager
early
easy-going
ecstatic
edgy
educated
effaced
effective
efficacious
egotistical

embarrassed
empathetic
emphatic
empowered
empty
enchanted
encouraged
encumbered
endangered
energetic
energized
engaged

elated
elevated
emasculated
engrossed
enhanced
enlightened
enraged
enriched
entertained
enthralled
enthusiastic
entrapped
entrusted
envious

eradicated
esteemed
established
estranged
evaluated
evaded
evasive
evicted
evil
examined

exasperated
excellent
excited
excluded
excoriated
exempt
exhausted
exhilarated
exonerated
expectant

exploitative
exploited
exposed
extravagant
exuberant

F

faithful
fake
failful *
fallible
false
fantastic
fatalistic
fatigued
fatuous

fearful
fearless
fed up
feistyfervent
fine
flabbergasted

flawed
flustered
focussed
foiled
followed
foolhardy

foolish
forgiven
forgiving
forgotten
forsaken
fortunate
fractured

fragmented
framed
frantic
fraudulent
free
friendly
frightened
frisky
frustrated

fulfilled
full
funny
furious

G

galled
gauche
generous
gentle
gifted
giving
grieving

glorious
goaded
good
gorgeous
graded
grateful

great
glad
gloomy
gregarious
grief

grief-stricken
grieved
grossed-out
grotesque
grouchy

grumpy
guarded
guilt-free
guiltless

guilty
gullible
gypped

H

hampered
handicapped
happy
harnessed
hate
hated

hateful
hatred
haunted
healthy
heard
heartbroken

heartened
helped
helpful
helpless
hesitant
high-spirited

hindered
honorable
honored
hoodwinked
hopeful
hopeless

horrible
horrified
hospitable
hostile
hounded
humble

humiliated
hurt
hypocritical
hysterical

I

idealistic
idiotic
idolized
ignorant
ignored
imaginative
imbalanced
immobilized
immodest
immune
impaired
impassioned
impassive
impatient
impeded
impelled
imperiled

imperfect
impertinent
imperturbable
impervious
important
imposed upon
impressed
imprisoned
impudent
impugned
impulsive
impure
inadequate
inappropriate
inattentive
incensed
incompetent
incomplete

inconsistent
in control
in the way
incredible
incredulous
indebted
indecent
indecisive
independent
indicted
indifferent
indignant
indulgent
industrious
ineffective
inept

infallible
infantilized
inferior
inflated
informed
infuriated
ingenious
ingenuous
inhibited
inhospitable
inimical
innocent
innovative
inquisitive
insane
insecure
insensitive
insignificant

insincere
insistent
isolated
insolent
instructive
insulted
integritous *
intense
interested
interfered with
interrogated
interrupted
intimidated
intimate
intolerant

intrepid
intrigued
introspective
introverted
intruded upon
intrusive
invalidated
invigorated
invisible
involved
invulnerable
irrational
irresponsible
irritated
irked

J

jaded
jealous
jeopardized

jerked around
jinxed
jolly
jolted

jovial
joyful
jubilant

judged
judgmental

judicious
jumpy

just
justified

K

keen
kidded
kind
kindly
kinky
knowledgeable

L

labeled
lackadaisical
lambasted
late
lavished
lax

lazy
lectured to
leery
left out
legitimate

lethargic
let down
liable
liberated
lied to
lifeless

light-hearted
likable
liked
listened to
listless
loathed
loathsome

logical
lonely
loose
lorded over
lost
lousy
lovable

loved
loving
lucky
lynched

M

mad
malevolent
malicious
malignant
maligned
manipulated

married
meager
mean
mechanical
meditative
melancholy

merry
miffed
mischievous
miserable
miserly

misinterpreted
misrepresented
mistaken
mistreated
misunderstood
misused
mixed up

mocked
modest
molested
moody
moralistic

morose
motivated
moved
muzzled
mystified

N

naive
narcissistic
nasty

nauseated
needed
needled

needy
negated
negative

neglected
nettled
nervous
neurotic

nihilistic
nonchalant
nonplused

nostalgic
noticed
numb
numbed

O

obeyed
objectified
obligated
obliterated
obstructed
obvious
odd

offended
old
one-upped
open
opportunistic
opposed

oppressed
optimistic
opulent
ornery
ousted
out of balance
out of control

out of place
outdone
outnumbered
outraged
outranked
overcome

overestimated
overjoyed
overloaded
overlooked
overpowered
overwhelmed

overworked
overwrought
owed
owned

P

pained
pampered
paralyzed
paranoid
passionate
passive
pathetic
patient
patronized
peaceful
peeved
pensive
perfect
peripheral

perky
perplexed
persecuted
perturbed
perverted
pessimistic
pestered
petrified
petulant
peeved
peevish
petty

philanthropic
phony
picked apart
picked on
pious
pissed off
placated
plagued
playful
pleased
pompous
poor

possesionless
possessive
positive
pouty
powerful
powerless
practical
praised
preached to
precocious
preoccupied
pressured
pretentious
preyed upon
private

proactive
probed
productive
promiscuous
prosaic
prosecuted
prosperous
protected
protective
proud
provincial
provoked
prudish

psychotic
pulverized
punished
pure
pushy
put down
puzzled

Q

quarantined
quashed

queer
querulous

questioned
quiescent

quiet
quirky

quivery

 

R

rambunctious
raped
rated
rational
reactive
reassured
realistic
rebellious
reborn
rebuffed
rebuked
recalcitrant
receptive

reckless
reclusive
recognized
reconciled
redeemed
reflective
refreshed
regret
regretful
rejected
rejuvenated
relaxed
released
reliable

relieved
reluctant
reminiscent
remiss
remorse
renewed
repelled
repentant
replaceable
replaced
replenished
repressed
reproached

reproved
repulsed
rescued
resented
resentful
reserved
resigned
resistant
resolute
resourceful
respected
responsible
responsible
restrained

restricted
revengeful
revered
reverent
revitalized
revolted
rich
ridden
ridiculed
ridiculous

right
rigid
robbed
romantic
rotten
rueful
rushed

S

sabotaged
sad
safe
sardonic
sassy
satisfied
saved
scared
scolded
scorned
scornful
screwed
scrutinized
secure
seductive
self-absorbed
self-acceptance
self-assured
self-centered
self-confident
self-conscious

shamed
shaken
sheepish
shocked
shouted at
shunned
shut out
shy
self-destructive
self-indulgent
self-rejection
self-reliant
self-righteous
selfish
sensitive
sentenced
sentimental
serene
serious
sexy
skillful
slandered
slighted

sluggish
small
smart
smothered
smug
sick
significant
silenced
silly
sincere
sinful
singled-out
skeptical
skilledsocial
soft-hearted
solemn
soothed
sophisticated
sophomoric

sorry
spasticspecial
spellbound
spent
spirited
spiteful
splendid
spunky
squashed
squelched
stereotypedstepped-on
stifled
stimulated
stingy
stomped on
strained
strangled
stretched

stressed
stricken
strong
stubborn
stumped
stunnedstunning
stupefied
stupid
subdued
subjugated
submissive
subordinated
subservient
successful
suicidal
suffocated
sulky
sullen

sunk
super
superb
superior
supported
suppressed
sure
surly
surprised
susceptible
suspicious
sympathetic

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