How on earth are we born with so much potential for emotional achievement, yet we wind up making ourselves throw up, murder people who don’t cooperate with us, punch people in the throat who speak their mind and become depressed when we find ourselves cheated on, taken advantage of, lied to and criticized? The answer to this question, for me, is to ask myself what people fear. Once I discover the answer to that question, I can almost always begin to discover the source of nearly any emotional response I encounter in myself and others, e.g., “My partner doesn’t love me anymore. What do I fear? I am afraid I will be alone. I am afraid I won’t ever find anyone to love me again. I’m afraid I am completely bad and unattractive because my partner rejected me.”
That is a lot to be afraid of.
Here’s another example of defining the problem and finding meaning:
EI Guide: So what happened?
EI Guide: Goodness, what did you do?
Learner: I told her to watch her face or I’d watch it for her.
EI Guide: How did you know she was thinking that particular thought about you? Maybe she ate something that upset her stomach.
Learner: Believe me; I’ve seen that face before. I know ridicule when I see it.
EI Guide: I’ll play along. What was she doing, exactly?
Learner: Well, I was eating my baked cod and she was looking over at me.
EI Guide: How was that a problem for you?
Learner: She should be looking at her own plate. She shouldn’t be staring at me. I need to have some privacy when I’m eating. You know what I mean?
EI Guide: I’m sure I don’t. But let’s just ask what this means, this looking and staring. What does it mean to you that she was doing all these things?
EI Guide: I’m sure you’re right. But what does it mean to you that she was looking at you that way?”
Learner: It means she thought I was foolish and a joke and that she was better than me.”
EI Guide: And what would that mean?
Learner: That she was right?
- What Do You Fear? (eitheory.com)
- Articulated Thought and EI Theory (eitheory.com)
- What Is Emotional Intelligence (part ii) (eitheory.com)
- The Bio-Psycho-Social Model (eitheory.com)
- The Case of Elliot (part one) (eitheory.com)
- The Case of Elliot (part six) (eitheory.com)
- REBT vs. eitheory for the win! (eitheory.com)
- What Is Emotional Intelligence? (eitheory.com)
- The Burden of Change Is On You (eitheory.com)
- Prove it! (eitheory.com)