Summary of “Emotional Intelligence” : With this book, Daniel Goleman wants to issue a challenge: let us become our own masters, let us make our emotions our allies and no longer be a slave to them; concerned about protecting our health, he shows how dangerous negative emotions can be, and how we can change the course of our lives by liberating ourselves from what is predictable genetically, through teaching alternative behavior from a very young age; to do this, some experimental schools teach children the necessary social and psychological skills to lead their lives by stimulating emotional intelligence… it is up to us to apply the method to ourselves!
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, 1999, 421 pages.
Note: This guest chronicle was written by Elisabeth Chervonaz-Humez
Chronicle and summary of Emotional Intelligence:
“Anybody can become angry. What is not easy is to be angry with the right person and to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way.”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
The consequences of our impulses fill the pages of our daily newspapers (murder, abuse, pillage…). We can all lose control of our emotions, react with anger or violence, by depression or regrets.
Hordes of personal development manuals are at our disposal. Not one of them is based on scientific data. Thanks to progress in neurological imaging, we can now begin to understand how our brain functions.
Daniel Goleman thinks that what he calls “emotional intelligence” is at the origin of the faculties of self-control. We can instill this in children so that they can make full use of their intellectual potential, whatever it may be, regardless of their intelligence quotient (IQ).
He then proposes that we travel with him on a journey that begins with a review of the latest discoveries in brain architecture. He describes emotional intelligence, control over our impulses and the ability to forge relations of empathy with others.
Then, leaving the personal field, Daniel Goleman leads us into the world of business, where the success of our career is determined by the quality of our relationships.
Part One: The Emotional Brain
What Are Emotions For?
When we face life-threatening situations, or perform too many tasks, our body responds directly through our emotions.
The first laws and moral codes (such as the Ten Commandments) responded perhaps to the need to channel, to harness emotions and passions.
The etymology of the word “emotion” from the Latin “motere” which means “motion” and the prefix “e” which means a movement toward the exterior, clearly demonstrates that emotions incite us to actions.
Each emotion causes physiological reactions within us which allow us to act in an appropriate manner, without intelligence contributing to this:
– Anger makes blood flow toward the hands so that they can hit or grab a weapon. Vigorous movement causes the release of adrenaline.
– Fear directs the blood to the motor muscles (for flight) and turns us pale by depriving our face of an inflow of blood. Temporary paralysis gives us time to decide if we will run or hide.
– Happiness activates the center of the brain which inhibits negative feelings and soothes the areas of the brain that generate worry. A sensation of appeasement is felt, allowing us to recover quickly from fatigue or an annoyance. All of our actions are carried out with enthusiasm, easily and in a varied manner.
– Love, tenderness and sexual satisfaction create a state of calm and contentment, soothing any fear or anger, and leaving room for complicity.
– Surprise invariably results in raised eyebrows, which, by increasing the visual field, allows you to glean the maximum amount of information and therefore to prepare the most suitable reaction.
– Disgust generates a kind of universal grimace, with the nose wrinkling slightly, perhaps to allow the nostrils to close against a toxic poison.
– Sadness is beneficial because it pushes us to shut ourselves off, to stay at home in safety, and to take the time to establish projects for the future.
The rational mind and the emotional mind complement each other. The former allows us to be consciously thoughtful and weighted and the latter forces us towards impulsive and sometimes illogical behavior.
These functions and this behavior are directly derived from the history of the development of life since its first appearance on Earth: The brain stem appeared first, developing around the spinal cord and supporting breathing, organ function and basic movements.
After several millions of years of evolution, the neocortex made its appearance, which is what is called the “thinking brain”. It developed from the olfactory bulb.
This important development enclosed the upper part of the peripheral brain stem, whence the name “limbic system” (from the Latin word “limbus” or edge). From herein on, we feel emotions: desire, fury, love, dread. The development of the limbic system provided us with the capacity of to learn and memorize.
Around one hundred million years ago, several layers of brain cells were added, significantly increasing the size of our brain and creating an incredibly developed neocortex for Homo Sapiens.
From now on we can feel sensations about ideas, symbols, the imagination and we can turn towards art. The increase in the mass of the neocortex led to an exponential increase in the number of connections between neurons. The affective life becomes more and more complex; for the first time we can respond to our own emotions in a varied and nuanced manner.
As the neocortex was developed from the emotional areas and shares many circuits with them, it is easy to understand why the rest of the brain is also subjected to the centers of emotion.
Anatomy of an Emotional Hijacking
Located close to the base of the limbic system is a small cluster that is almond-shaped, which gave it its name: amygdala. The hippocampus and the amygdala are the essential parts of the primitive “olfactory brain” from which the cortex and the neocortex were formed.
Removal of the amygdala, whether accidental or not, removes any ability to give emotional content to one’s experience; this is called “emotional blindness”. People who are deprived of this feel no more pain… or joy.
The latest research shows that the amygdala determines our actions even before our neocortex has had time to make a reasoned decision: the relationship between these two areas is at the heart of Emotional Intelligence.
When a dreaded or hated event occurs, the amygdala reacts instantaneously and transmits the alert signal to all other parts of the brain. In response to a visual or auditory stimulus, the thalamus is the first to process this.
Afterwards, it sends the information to the neocortex (cerebral area of vision or hearing) which will be able to interpret the information, and decide what to do. Later still, it transmits, if necessary, part of the information to the amygdala, therefore, to the control center of our emotions.
But the main discovery has been to see that the thalamus also transmits the information directly to the amygdala at the same time that it sends it to the neocortex and that the route is twice as short between the thalamus and the amygdala, in other words, the amygdala receives the information before it has been interpreted!
This explains why we react sometimes without understanding the meaning of our actions. The amygdala sends the orders to our body even before the neocortex has been able to determine whether the order is a good idea. It is like a faster, parallel circuit!
Other research has also shown that we react to something well before our brain has interpreted it. The hippocampus saves the raw data, and the amygdala retains the emotional flavor of events during strong emotions. That is why we always remember a lot of details about the day when we have a first date, or what we were doing at the time we heard about the death of a close relative.
These details which may seem insignificant and which we would not usually remember in a normal context. The stimulus of the amygdala has the effect of leaving the mark of emotional moments with unusual force.
In children, the amygdala is mature well before the rest of the brain, because it is closer to its definitive format at the time of birth, while the neocortex will continue to grow even after the end of adolescence.
The first significant emotions of the early years of life are therefore imprinted on the amygdala, at a time when we are still unable to analyze these experiences with words.
When these memories come back as a result of an external stimulus, they trigger emotions whose origins can be found at the beginning of our life, when everything was new and surprising, and when we were still lacking the tools of analysis to put them into perspective.
We now understand better why we often lack judgement when we are under the influence of strong emotions.
In fact, the amygdala triggers impulsive, anxious reactions, but on the other side of the circuit leading to the neocortex, in the prefrontal cortex, a center which tempers them can be found. It intervenes when we are afraid or angry.
The neocortex causes a reaction that coordinates the frontal lobes to come up with a plan and organize our actions.
If an emotional reaction is necessary, the frontal lobes take care of this using discernment and choosing from among the whole range of possibilities: fight or flight (like animals that have only these two possibilities) or also soothe, persuade, win sympathy, feel guilty, whimper, despise… The prefrontal cortex acts like a parent moderating an impulsive child (the amygdala) by politely asking him to react differently.
The existence of these connections between the limbic brain and the prefrontal cortex may cause strong emotions. A kind of neuronal paralysis by sabotaging the ability of the prefrontal cortex to maintain active memory. Such as when we are upset which prevents us from learning properly.
Feelings are essential to making rational decisions per research. When complementarity is established between the limbic system, the neocortex, the amygdala and the prefrontal lobes, intellectual capacity is improved. That is why we are going to try to better understand how to use our emotional intelligence.
Part Two: The Nature of Emotional Intelligence
When Smart is Dumb
Empathy, the ability to self-motivate, perseverance, mastery over impulses, patience and good humor are the characteristics of emotional intelligence, which counts far more in success than any successful IQ test.
Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, likes to say that “a lot of people with an IQ of 160 work for people whose IQ is not more than 100.”
To better understand how such an education can operate, we must learn to recognize and to feel our intelligent emotions.
Peter Salovey, a psychologist at Yale, has defined the five basic emotions of emotional intelligence:
• Knowledge of one’s emotions: Self awareness is the cornerstone of self understanding and intuition. Those who master this have better control over their lives.
• Control of one’s emotions: The ability to adapt your feelings to each situation, to pacify your mind, to free yourself from anxiety, sadness or anger. Those who have this ability rebound incomparably better from life’s setbacks.
• Self-motivation: Learning to channel our emotions in order to focus, control our emotions and self motivate allows us to fulfill ourselves and do remarkable things.
• Perception of the emotions of others: Empathy is the basis of any social relationship; understanding others opens the doors to the most profound human relationships.
• Mastery of human relations: This is about knowing how to maintain good relations with others, and how to manage their emotions. Individuals who possess this know how to make themselves popular, how to lead and effectively conduct their relations with others.
The plasticity of the brain is such that we can compensate for our shortcomings in one or other of these five emotions by learning a set of habits or reactions.
IQ and emotional intelligence are not in opposition, but complement each other and build us.
A Japanese story tells of a belligerent samurai who asked a Zen Master to explain paradise and hell to him. The monk contemptuously sent him about his business. The samurai, feeling insulted, drew his sword and threatened to kill the monk. The monk then said: “That is hell”. Surprised by the truth of these words, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword and thanked him for his enlightenment. The monk added “and that is paradise”!
“Self-awareness” designates constant attention to one’s internal state.
It is important to develop the capacity for self-examination. It is the difference between becoming angry and thinking “I feel anger” while you are angry. The neocortex circuits monitor emotions and this is the first step toward controlling them. Recognizing that you are in a bad mood means that you already no longer want to be in a bad mood!
As parents, we also have a role to play in educating the emotional intelligence of our children: when our child hits a classmate, crying out “Stop that immediately!“ will prevent him from continuing. The child is still angry. We can therefore explain to him that we understand his anger, and ask him if he still feels it.
We can distinguish three categories of persons from the relationship that they have with their emotions:
- Those who have self-awareness: They are often subtle in their emotional life and independent, in good psychological health and have a positive conception of life.
- Those who allow their emotions to overcome them: They are often versatile and lose any sense of distance with events. They don’t do much to get rid of their bad mood and think that they have no control over their emotional life.
- Those who accept the mind’s dispositions: People who are generally in a good mood, and due to this they do not see the point in changing, and people who experience mood swings and accept them. Depressed people are often in this category, resigned to their despair.
The ability to get rid of a bad mood resides in consciousness of its existence and it is the second fundamental form of emotional intelligence.
We cannot live without emotion. Daniel Goleman advocates balancing them, based on the extent of their value and their meaning. Appropriate emotion, proportionate to the circumstances, preserves us from ennui (moments where emotions are too weakened) and anxiety, fury or depression (when they become extreme, persistent and pathological).
Life is made of ups and downs; the art of well-being is that they must compensate each other. In the same way that thoughts agitate our brain every second, emotions are constantly buzzing inside us.
The anatomy of the brain, as we have seen, cannot keep us from outbursts, but we can limit their duration. The example of a person cutting in front of you is a potent one. What do you say? “What a s…! He could have caused an accident! He’s not going to get away with it! ” or “Maybe he had good reason to drive like that, a medical emergency for example. “.
In the first case, your body is preparing for combat, your heart rate accelerates and if the car behind you starts blowing its horn as well, then you are ready to really lose your temper.
With the second thoughts, your attitude is more lenient. You soften your anger and defuse the rising fury. Benjamin Franklin was right when he said that “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one”.
Fury is undoubtedly the most rebellious emotion: it provides energy, or even euphoria, in contrast to sadness. The more we mull over the cause of our anger, the more we we invent good reasons for it, and in doing so we fan the flames of our fury. Reconsidering the situation from a more positive angle is one of the safest ways to calm us down.
Anger feeds on itself. The amygdala releases catecholamine with each wave of anger, which dissipates in about twenty minutes. A thought that occurs once this process of escalation has advanced considerably triggers a wave of anger that is much more violent than the one that fed the mechanism in the beginning.
At this stage, the individual is no longer forgiving and can no longer be reasoned with. This heightened excitement maintains an illusion of power and invulnerability that is likely to inspire and facilitate aggression.
An assistant insulted and provoked volunteer test subjects during an experiment. When the subjects were offered the opportunity to take revenge on the assistant, by giving their opinion on his job application, they did so with a mixture of anger and jubilation.
A variant was then performed: an accomplice walked in just after the provocations and asked the provoker to leave on some pretext. She remained indifferent to the sarcastic remark from the assistant as he left and once he was gone she explained that the provoker was feeling extremely tense because of upcoming exams.
When the irritated subjects were next given the opportunity to take revenge, they didn’t take it; on the contrary, they expressed their compassion for him. Some soothing information therefore allows a reassessment of the events behind the anger and offers the opportunity to de-escalate the situation.
Distraction is an extremely effective process for mood change. It is therefore preferable to take a long walk, as physical exercise has an excellent calming effect.
How about a relaxation session? A few deep breaths and some muscle relaxation that allows the body to move from a state of excitement to a state of less excitement. Halting aggressive thoughts can appease anger.
That is why we should step away for a while, think about something else, read, watch TV or go to the cinema, because these activities are easy ways to change our ideas!
Another strategy for controlling one’s irritability is to try to be aware of oneself. Catch the cynical or hostile thoughts in the air and to write them down, as this makes it easier to identify them precisely and then contest or reassess them.
One popular belief which says that it is better to give free rein to anger collapses when faced with the fact that on the contrary, this attitude only excites the emotional brain further, and the person ends up angrier than before.
Anxious thoughts are legion and all they do is go round and round in circles. The following typical example speaks volumes: “Listen, the engine is making a funny noise. If I have to take my car to the garage, it’s going to cost a fortune. I’ll have to spend the money I set aside for my daughter’s school. I may not have enough left to enroll her, and her grades went down in her last report. What is going to happen if her grades start to fall and she can’t get into this school? I bet the engine is completely broken.” And there you are, back at the start of the loop. Each worry leads to another and a few worries later, you are back to the first one again.
Fear in the presence of a potential danger has as its consequence vigilant behavior, and this causes anxiety, which was perfectly normal in prehistoric times, because it allowed man to concentrate on how to cope.
Worry is a means to find a positive way to remedy the cause of the concern. But when the cycle is intensified and protracted, anxiety appears with its natural extensions: phobias, obsessions and compulsions, panic attacks.
Anxious people make up stories for themselves, jumping from one worry to another, in words and not in images. Insomniacs also are concerned by this, because in fact the problem is not one of somatic excitement, but of unfortunate thoughts.
Chronically anxious people are unable to follow simple tips like: stop worrying, don’t worry about it, look on the bright side of life.
However, simple solutions can help them to control their emotions. Recognizing the first physical signs of rising anxiety demonstrates faster pulse, sweating, tremors.
Subsequently, the next step can be implemented: being critical vis-à-vis oneself and the anxiety (evaluation of the risk that the feared event produces, ways to deal with the event, the usefulness of constantly rehashing the worrying thoughts).
Sadness is the emotion which we try hardest to get rid of. However, it is sometimes positive, when our attention is focused on the lost object. It forces us to reflect on the meaning of sadness and loss. Finally, to carry on with new plans that enable life to go on.
Mourning is useful, but genuine depression is not. The ongoing nature of the depression depends in large part on the individual’s tendency to ruminate.
There is a two-fold strategy to put in place: on one hand, challenge the ruminations and replace them with more positive thoughts, and on the other hand, establish a program of distraction. Aerobics is one of the most effective ways to treat mild depression and a negative mood.
One of the effective ways to raise morale is to feel the reward of a minor success, to perform something that you are obliged to do. Helping others is also one of the most effective means to fight melancholy…!
- Denial or optimistic refusal
People who bolster negative emotions become such experts that they are no longer even aware of their negativity! Many people do all they can to ignore emotions such as anger or anxiety (one person out of six). Not showing your emotions in order to be an example of stoicism for your children or remaining impassive when faced with a painful situation.
People self regulate through peace of mind, perhaps at the price of weakened perception of their self awareness.
The Master Aptitude
“Active memory” is the ability to retain any information related to the task at hand in the mind. However, in certain situations, we can feel a kind of paralysis (such as during an exam where we panic or during a performance where we suffer from stage fright).
Conversely, when enthusiasm and confidence are mobilized to achieve a goal, motivation becomes limitless and the results speak for themselves. The leaders in any activity stand out from the others, at equal level, by an endless capacity for tireless perseverance and tenacity (a concept that is found elsewhere in Anthony Robbins with CANI: Constant And Never-ending Improvement.
A state of hypomania (slight exaltation) is the most pleasant one for writers and creative people. A good way to help someone to overcome something difficult is to make them laugh… being in a good mood frees thoughts, and therefore the imagination.
Confidence in people allow them to set higher goals. They work more and are dedicated to achieving them and therefore, ultimately reach their objectives! These people know how to motivate and convince themselves that things will improve after encountering a setback. They are convinced that they have what it takes to achieve their objectives and the necessary flexibility to discover other paths towards success.
The optimist thinks that failure is always something that can be amended, so that the next time it transforms into success. Pessimists blame themselves for their failures and put it down to their own “nature” that cannot be changed. Certainly, we all have a temperament that is slightly more optimistic or pessimistic, but it is possible to learn to change one’s attitudes through experience and learning.
“Fluidity” is the pinnacle of emotions serving performance or learning. These are the moments when you give the best of yourself, where time has no influence on what you are doing and you go beyond your own limits. It is a wonderful feeling that we have all experienced at some time.
Discipline allows us to find it more often through concentration, focusing on what you want to achieve, allowing you to overcome everything that is not the task at hand to perform it with no effort.
Attention is both relaxed and very focused. We are slightly euphoric.
The Roots of Empathy
Empathy is the ability to feel what others are feeling, to put yourself in their place. Those who feel it most are those who best recognize their own emotions. Empathy therefore pushes us to care about others and, in this sense, its opposite is antipathy.
Most emotions are not translated by words, but by tone of voice, gestures, the expression on a face. This of course is a plus for romantic relationships.
Children who know how to decode non-verbal signs succeed better at school, even though they have an IQ test result that is identical to others, and little recognize this way of communicating.
One way to understand others is to understand the emotion in the manner in which s/he says things, rather than in the words themselves. From the first hours of life, even babies feel pain when they hear another baby crying.
Babies suffer through empathy even before they are aware of the fact that they exist independently from others. At the age of one year, they understand that this suffering is not theirs, but they want to do something for the other, without knowing what to do.
Children feel more empathy when their parents explain what others are feeling, as a result of their bad actions for example. They help their children to put themselves in the other’s place and to feel the emotions of another person.
However, when a parent demonstrates no empathy towards the child concerning the emotion that s/he feels it, in a sustainable manner. The child ends up not even feeling this emotion any more. This is certainly not irreversible and subsequent psychotherapy may in part repair the handicap, but there is so much lost time and emotions that have not been lived!
“Women dream about being raped.” The rapist often explains. If she resists, she is just being difficult”, and pedophiles say “I am not hurting him, I’m teaching him love.”
“This is my way of showing affection,” and a parent who abuses their child will say after a beating that “This is a good lesson.”
Psychopaths will tell any story as long as it leads to what they want from their victims. Psychopaths often feel no fear for themselves (neither that of a prison sentence or the physical pain of certain punishments in the United States for example), so they cannot feel what their victims feel, and have no empathy.
The Social Arts
A certain amount of internal calm allows you to be open to others and to be more receptive. To help others, and to manage their emotions, we need two basic strengths: self-control and empathy.
Emotions, as many studies demonstrate, are contagious. People who know how to help others, to soothe their concerns, are people to whom everyone turns when times are difficult.
During a transfer of mood from one individual to another, the emotional contagion moves from the more expressive to the less expressive.
Interaction between two individuals trigger emotional coordination. Speakers reflect gestures when they are speaking. The two change position at the same moment.
Synchronicity can sometimes be seen between teachers and students. They appreciate each other and they feel happy, enthusiastic and interested.
The harmonization between a mother and her baby is transformed into coordination of moods between adults. We find this type of communication in the following capacities:
- The ability to organize groups: first ability of leaders
- To negotiate solutions: the talent of mediators
- Ability to establish personal relationships: The ability to empathize and to communicate. Good team mates possess this talent and we can count on their taking things seriously.
- The capacity for social analysis: The ability to understand others’ motivations, their feelings. This is one of the abilities that are particular to good therapists or novelists.
It is a pleasure to spend time with people who possess charm, charisma and social success.
Children or unpopular people try to force themselves on the group, while others take time to observe the group in order to understand what is happening before approaching, and then accept the rules prior to making suggestions if need be.
The ultimate “step” towards mastery of this social skill is what Daniel Goleman calls “emotional engineering”. A person who is capable of managing another’s anger, i.e., capable of distracting him from his anger, of feeling empathy and joining his point of view in order to make him change has this mastery that I imagine we would all like to possess.
Part Three: Emotional Intelligence Applied
Emotional intelligence can also cover the question of marriage. Without wanting to use too many clichés, Daniel Goleman paints a picture of a man complaining about the unreasonable demands of his wife, while she sees only the indifference of her husband’s attitude to what she says.
But this male-female “divide” does not appear at birth, it comes from the way in which children are raised: parents talk more easily about emotions to a girl (apart from anger) than to a boy.
From the age of 10, girls play together in small groups and try to establish their relationships on cooperation and role playing. Boys play in larger groups, often ruled by competition.
During a game, girls immediately turn to the person who is injured. They talk and console them, whereas boys tend to leave the injured party alone. Almost reproaching him for interrupting the game.
It is therefore no surprise if a dozen years later, women demand discussions in order to share with their husbands, while for the men complicity is the way to achieve something concrete together.
The secret to conjugal communication is to complain and not to blame. There is a concrete difference between these two concepts: “When you forget to take my clothes to the dry cleaner’s, I get the impression that you are not thinking about me.” or “How selfish and careless! It proves that I really cannot count on you to do things properly, since you forgot to go to the dry cleaner’s!”
The first example is based on the emotion that a fact, an action, the partner by empathy, put themselves in the other’s place and a healthy discussion can be engaged.
The second sentence is accusatory, judging the other without a fair trial, without an appeal and is hurtful. Several more or less identical remarks when regularly leveled against a spouse can only lead to separation in the more or less long term! The accused spouse has only two solutions: be on the defensive, or retaliate.
Painful thoughts become automatic and reinforce the sense of victimization of one partner or the other. Practice being kind and promote kindness.
The heart accelerates by 10, 20 or even 30 additional beats per minute. Muscles become tense and there are sometimes even breathing difficulties that appear.
Emotions have now completely taken over. The best way is not, for men, to shut themselves off in silence or, for women, to endlessly criticize their spouse. Both have to take note that a problem exists. The man can then propose to his wife to listen to her more calmly and to hear what she has to say.
The woman can then be careful not to attack or personally criticize her husband, but to limit herself to talking to him about his behavior and what emotions it engenders inside her. It is a good idea to broaden her ideas, and especially, to reassure her husband of her love for him.
The man and the woman form an “ideal” couple, whose union is sustainable. They never stray far from a subject of disagreement and who exchange their different points of view from the outset, whatever they are. Each one shows to the other that he or she is listening. Reduce tensions by practicing constructive conversations.
Respect and love for the other are the best tools to disarm any conflict. Each one has the right to recognize their share of responsibility. One can apologize to show the other that they have taken the feelings expressed into account.
Save your partner from pain by listening rather than arguing who is wrong and who is right.
Managing with Heart
In 80% of aircraft accidents, the fatal error could have been avoided by greater harmony between the team members and by listening to each other.
Indeed, stress makes people stupid!
Daniel Goleman tells us that “leading is not dominating, it is knowing how to persuade others to work to achieve a common goal.”
The first quality in work is to know how to transmit the information which employees need to move forward, including telling them whether or not they are going in the right direction with each step, so that the last one will be successful.
Hurtful expressions such as “You are doing it wrong”, embellished with a sarcastic tone are totally unproductive. On the level of pure realization of a project, they do not leave the person any opportunity to respond. This reproach is a general one with no proposal for improvement. The employee becomes doubtful and demotivated.
Follow these for a proper constructive criticism:
- description of what the person has already accomplished
- description of what s/he can go on to accomplish
- utterance in the form of advice so that the employee can hear the suggestions for improvement
- using a tone that conveys optimism
- an accurate explanation of what has been done poorly and what must be done to correct it
- speaking with empathy in order to feel the impact of what is being said on the other person without prejudice.
In a company, emotional intelligence also asks that we do not tolerate any intolerance.
Mind and Medicine
When we are sick, we suddenly feel weak and vulnerable and often powerless. Care and reassurance are all we want from doctors when we are sick. However, they often perform their work from the “scientific” point of view, often neglecting the emotional aspect that makes each sentence or each word resonate in us.
The medical “corpus” should take the emotional component into as much account as the purely physical component.
Researchers discovered that there is a connection between the immune system and nervous system. Each emotion generates specific hormones which have a significant effect on the immune cells.
One of the examples given by Daniel Goleman concerns, as an example, an operation. If a person says that they do not want an operation, some surgeons may cancel the intervention, because they know that in this case, people react extremely badly.
They bleed more, are often more prone to infection afterwards and are more prone to complications, without counting the increased convalescence time. The reason is simple: panic and anxiety increase blood pressure which then leads to increased bleeding of the veins; one of the most difficult complications during an operation.
Moreover, all studies show that repeated anger is very hard on the heart. It increases the heart rate and pressure. Repetition may result in damage, even benign damage at the level of the arteries. Micro-fissures at the level of the coronary artery in particular, which, over several years, can cause a serious heart problem. For example, at Stanford they teach tolerance to people who have already had a heart attack. This decreases the risk of a second heart attack by 44%.
Several studies have shown that stress could decrease and alter the immune functions. This allows the acceleration of metastases, an increase in vulnerability to virus attacks. This trigger asthma attacks, among other things, without counting all the disorder it can bring to the digestive system.
It is therefore necessary to also treat the stressed or depressed condition of patients. Communication and the expression of emotions are necessary.
Once again, a study has shown that women survived twice as long after treatment for advanced breast cancer. These women took part in discussion meetings where they could express their emotions, fears and freely talk about their disease.
As one patient rightly pointed out: “Compassion is more than just comfort, it is good medicine”.
Part Four: Windows Of Opportunity
The Family Crucible
Good education in emotional intelligence is the main role of parents. Some parents do not pay attention to the feelings of the child. Feelings are ignored as insignificant, let things slide, or promote punishments. Parents despise their children by punishing or criticizing them. Some even get angry when the child tries to defend him or herself. “Don’t answer me back! “.
A different attitude is to take advantage of the annoyance felt by the child. Teach him how to dominate it by listening, and asking the “right” questions. “Are you angry because…? ” “Instead of fighting, why not have fun on your own? ” “How do you feel now? ” Then the children can relax and become less violent and more attentive. By the same occasion, they become better students because they are more attentive.
When a child asks for help doing a puzzle, an adult comes to help with genuine pleasure. In another case, the adult comes unwillingly will shape the way a child thinks.
In the first case, s/he will know that in the event of a problem, s/he is not alone. S/he can count on others and will therefore be more inclined to ask for help later, from teachers or colleagues. In the second case, the child will often become mistrustful and aggressive. A lack of attention is undoubtedly more damaging than ill-treatment.
Trauma and Emotional Relearning
Even if the person is only a witness, some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Agression leads to nightmares, dreams that sometimes even create a sensation of imminent death.
Terrifying memories become highly sensitive detonators. These flare up the conditions reproduce the fact at the origin of the trauma. The amygdala has been sustainably and deeply imprinted.
One of the significant differences in the way people react to PTSD is a function of the latter. They can get rid of it more easily if theyhave no complete powerlessness.
One of the techniques used to heal PTSD is to relive the trauma in a secure setting. A context that does not create anxiety and to imagine a “magical” happy ending. This gives the brain a sense of control. Art is another technique. The drawing process triggers the beginning of a sense of control over the trauma, the opportunity to circumscribe it.
Therefore, it is very important to start the healing process by establishing a sense of security. Prepare to relearn through relaxation and all other means to calm the emotional circuits.
It’s an important lesson for the brain to receive as speech gradually becomes more fluid.
Temperament Is Not Destiny
From birth, we all know that we have one temperament. Timid, hardy, optimistic and melancholic.
However, we all know very shy people who became great actors. Birth is not everything. Educating our emotional intelligence can go on to shape our emotions and even change them completely.
Geneticists explain that genes do not determine everything. Environment (in particular during childhood) can improve and shape the way in which our character will express itself.
Part Five: Emotional Literacy
The Cost of Emotional Illiteracy
Minors committed heinous crimes for frivolous reasons. A mother killed because she refused to let her child watch television. A friend who made fun of his future killer. We care more about our children learning to read. Instead, teach them to control their emotions so that they will still be alive tomorrow.
Aggressive children (future adults) make the assumption that others are hostile and neglect the genuine facts. Acts follow on from what they perceive to be threats.
One possibility for school consists in role play. In small groups, we decipher each other’s emotions, calling on empathy. But above all, we change the way we see others and their attitude which is not necessarily threatening. And so, little by little, education changes the perception felt by the children, in the face of innocuous acts.
Emotional intelligence can mitigate depression, eating disorders, isolation and dropping out of studies, alcoholism and drug addiction.
Schooling the Emotions
The Nueva School in San Francisco is a school that has integrated the teaching of emotional intelligence into its program of pure education.
At roll call every morning, they do not answer “Present! “, but with a number which corresponds to a mood: “1” means depressed, and “10” means that morale is high.
Then, over the course of the morning, the teacher will come back to the rejections. These will help the children find their own solutions to their problems and to those of their classmates.
Different games and projects help solve the problem because we learn to work together. Learn to referee conflicts between children by themselves. Dare to speak about their problems with the teachers and the other students. They know that they will listen and find solutions with them, without prior judgement.
Kindergarten in the New Haven are taught these 6 techniques to control their impulses:
⚫ Red light
1. Take a breather, calm down and think before you act
⚫ Amber light
2. Expose the problem, and explain how you feel
3. Give yourself a positive goal
4. Imagine a wide range of solutions
5. Think of the possible consequences
⚫ Green Light
6. Take action by applying the best plan
Children should follow the 6 steps as soon as they feel angry, sad or upset. This way, they learn to control themselves every day and to reach adulthood much better equipped.
SOCS or Situation Options Consequences Solutions is a variant model. You expose a situation and express the feelings that it brings up. Then you search for the different options that appear and the consequences that come with each. And finally, you choose the appropriate solution.
Daniel Goleman dreams that learning emotional intelligence can actually save lives. It can reduce the number of killings and assaults simply by improving people’s emotional lives.
Conclusions about “Emotional Intelligence”
Daily reports in the newspapers touched Daniel Goleman. Special kinds of incidents that were all the result of uncontrollable impulses. Through emotional intelligence, he hopes to be able to save lives in the future.
The narrative is full of statistics, reports of studies and examples that support each of the aspects of the presentation. In this chronicle, we have deliberately chosen not to go into these details in order to go to the essential. The implementation of emotional intelligence is to keep things light. Above all, to give ourselves the opportunity to focus on the solutions.
This book offers avenues of reflection. Goleman talks about the physiological effects of the appearance of an emotion. He also highlighted the interior dialogue that we all have with ourselves and the solutions that some researchers have found. Goleman offers us the results of certain experiments to give us some ideas that we can put into practice.
Strengths points :
- An anthology of directions to follow by presenting a number of concrete ways to better control our emotions,
- Genuine solutions and examples to learn how to communicate more constructively with our children, our partner or our close family.
- The appendices and annexes provide a rich complement to further investigate the method.
Weak points :
- Some of the principles exposed are still in the experimental stage. It may be too soon to want to generalize isolated cases.
- The examples are sometimes simplified in order to get to the essence of what Daniel Goleman wants to tell us.
- There are many repetitions. This sometimes give the impression that the book might have been able to get to the essential points more directly.
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