EI Theory Part Four – Beliefs and Emotions


In Parts I, II & III we discussed the important link between human biology, psychology and social learning (bio-psycho-social) and how we learn to communicate emotion.  The key factor in all of this (if it can be drawn down to only one strategic factor) is the influence individual belief has on the expression of emotion. Our individual belief systems, our personal construct for knowing right from wrong, good from bad, evil from virtuous, moral from immoral, when examined properly, can result in overwhelming emotional intelligence (EI) improvement.

What do you believe to be true? What should, ought, must, has to or needs to exist in the world in order for you to be in balance – to be content?  Are there any exceptions? What happens when the world is not meeting your unwavering demands?

Your beliefs, your current schema for perceiving, thinking and emoting in your social world, hold sway over improvement to your emotional intelligence. Your beliefs trigger those biological responses (otherwise known as the stress or freeze, fight or flee response) placing you in the position of solving a precarious physical and emotional puzzle.

I don’t like this person’s behavior; shall I freeze, fight or flee?  Your beliefs, when challenged by others, trigger a neurochemical-hormonal protective response that can interfere not only with your thinking and reasoning, but your physical health, as well.  When you are facing adversity, hardship and misfortune, your brain will react to protect you from it, just as it would protect you from a rampaging emu or a hungry black bear. Your brain takes what you tell it and determines that there is trouble and you need protection from it. It’s all quite automatic.

Your brain has a mind of its own.

In order to change this response, making the experiences in your life more manageable, you will have to change what you believe must, should and ought to be in order for your to be content.  You might also examine quite closely what you think you need in order to achieve emotional balance.

Make room for error.

I once worked with an employee and his manager to resolve a matter between them:

“Your behavior is unprofessional.”

“What does unprofessional mean?”

“Don’t give me that. You know what I mean.  Even the tone of your emails is rude.”

“How will I know that I am writing something with a bad tone?  I don’t write tone into my email?  I think you read tone into my email.”

“I guess I will have to tell you when you are being inappropriate.”

“Sounds good.”

“That doesn’t mean I won’t be writing you up after I explain it to you.”

Regardless of your individual EI goal, understanding the power of your beliefs, and the impact they have on your behavior, can open up a whole new world of emotional awareness for you. Your first eye-opening experience should be that there is no way for people to know what expectation you have for them unless you tell them and they tell you how willing they are to abide by your social rules. (And even then, as in the above case, that is not enough.)

No matter how much wisdom is gained from knowing where our emotions live, unless you are willing to accept that your way is not the only way, your beliefs are not the only beliefs, and that there are other perspectives to consider, you cannot grow. This is a necessary truth in EI theory and will likely lead, if fully appreciated, toward improvement.

Often, people will forcefully, vehemently hold on to their beliefs, even if they result in more anger, depression, isolation and physical illness. It may be that they fear compromise, because compromise may mean that they will have to give up some part of what they believe, leaving them somehow changed:

“I will never accept that my son is gay.”

“But he is gay.”

“I don’t have to accept it.”

“What other alternative is there? You don’t have to accept that it’s daylight, but that doesn’t make it untrue.”

“If I accept it, he will think it’s OK.”

“I think he already thinks it’s OK.”

“He can’t come around here anymore.”

“He is still your son.”

“I’m not changing my beliefs.”

Even from the very people who are actually seeking EI improvement, some level of resistance is predictable:

“I don’t want to think this way anymore.  I want to change my beliefs.”

“How is it a problem for you that your son is gay?”

“People will make fun of our family.”

“Anything else?”

“He won’t give me any grandchildren. I wanted grandchildren.”

“What else?”

“Someone will hurt him.”

“And?”

“I won’t know how to act around him, if he brings someone over for dinner.”

“Anything else?”

“I’m scared.”

Ah, so that’s what the problem has been all along?”

“I think so.”

It may be that many of our beliefs are so intimately connected to our other beliefs that to compromise one of them would mean making some adjustment to others.

It will take the force of will to recognize these connections.

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One response

  1. Pingback: Emotional Custom | eitheory.com

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