I do want to briefly mention that when you are in the moment of noxious emotional stimuli, you are not likely to make a lot of progress toward building or maintaining your emotional intelligence. The influence of your body’s natural immediate reaction to frightening thoughts and perceptions and your focus on fighting and fleeing, oftentimes overpowers your ability to begin an organized and logical problem-solving adventure.
Remember, you are not likely to stop and figure out why a polar bear is chasing you. Not only is it not a good idea to even try, but it is also quite life-threatening. Your body and mind respond to noxious human behavior in much the same way as it responds to a wild beast chasing you through the woods. And you are not likely, under either circumstance, to think rationally. Once you get away, however, you can think and plan how to make an effective weapon if the situation comes up again.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t commit to doing something about your perception of threat at some point after you have removed yourself from it. You may just have to learn to breathe and plan for when you can reasonably resolve the issue.
Simply said, your nutty thinking will almost always overpower your new rational thinking – while in the moment. (It will take at least as much time to change your first thought as it took you to build it in the first place.)
Long-term and episodic emotional stimuli is very important to distinguish. Episodic emotional stimuli is represented by an unfortunate encounter with a grocery store cashier. Episodic exposure is short-term and time-limited. Long-term emotional stimuli, however, is often characterized by complaints about not liking one’s job, the neighbors, a boss, a son’s new bride or the mailman. These issues are not expected to go away anytime soon, meaning that you may have to commit every day to improving your emotional intelligence in relation to the very same issues. The balloons you have inflated over time will take a long time to deflate.
Deflating emotional balloons is like trying to lose weight. It seemed effortless to put the weight on, but it sometimes seems almost impossible to get it off. This weight loss analogy is much like the effort you will expend evolving your emotions and improving your emotional intelligence. It seemed effortless to establish your nutty thinking. It will seem, at times, almost hopeless to reshape it.
Stick to it!
I have found that if you are experiencing long-term emotional issues, you are challenged not to resolve that particular issue, but to resolve how your thoughts about that issue influence other dimensions of your life. It appears that to truly begin to resolve long-term noxious thinking and behaving, you will be more successful, once you remove yourself permanently from it, e.g., get a new job, move to another neighborhood or start picking up your mail at the post office.
In the meantime, you will have to accommodate the long-term stimulus and learn to be committed to balancing emotional life, in spite of it.