I’ll like to begin with a question that I like to ask when I’m facilitating a training session. What is one of your favourite childhood memories?The brain produces a chemical called serotonin when you recall happy memories or think about things that make you happy.Serotonin is a happiness hormone. So let me remind you again do you miss the days when we went to school, lined up, the headmistress and teachers would inspect our nails and uniforms?We would then match to our classrooms. The days of Nasco Biscuit, okin biscuit Trebor, Iced Colored water tied in nylon we called it “lolly”
- The days of Goody-Goody&pak o Biscuit.
- The days of ali & simbi,Mr Salami & Mrs Salami, Agbo lives in Calabar.
Well, that was on a lighter note… I thought that would make us feel better.The lockdown, the fear of contacting the virus, the many disappointments here and there, broken engagements, and all other frustration is enough to make one depressed.I’m sharing on EMOTIONAL FITNESS.Many will understand the importance of physical exercise and good nutrition and may support this by a gym membership.To become emotionally fit will require a similar commitment and exercise programme to tone up flabby emotional muscles.
- EMOTIONAL AWARENESS.
Emotional fitness can be separated into several different skill sets. Each model of emotional fitness pinpoints self-awareness as a key skill set.The question to ponder on as we delve in is: How good are you at recognising how you feel, moment by moment at work, home, social gathering, when you’re with your friends?Let me share a case study with you of low emotional unfitness. One of my favourite examples of a lack of emotional fitness I read about in a journal. A young man had only a limited amount of beer in his fridge. His best friend came round to visit. During their conversation he told his friend not to drink his last beer. Later he found his friend had drunk it. He brought out a gun and shot his friend.Although this is an extreme example, it still communicates our point in a way.WHAT WOULD AN EMOTIONALLY FIT RESPONSE HAVE BEEN?To go and buy some more maybe?To ignore it and enjoy his friend’s company?To have a cup of coffee instead?To go down the pub together?WHAT HAPPENED?He had low emotional intelligence and did none of these. He shot his friend dead. He is now in prison serving time for murder.His rage drove him to short-term action which produced long-term negative consequences.Emotional unfitness, self awareness and a poor ability to control strong emotions in particular, can impact on a person’s behaviour, work and life.This is when you bring out your jotters.I’ve got a class work for you.You’ll summit the exercise at the end this session.Self awareness is the skill of perceiving and understanding one’s own emotions.Questions:Are you able to know how you feel? The speed with which you can do this is important.Do you know how you feel in each moment or only on reflection at the end of the day, or some weeks later when you explode in anger and realise how irritated or stressed you were weeks earlier?The faster you can pick up on your emotions the higher your level of emotional fitness will be in this dimension.Are you able to recognise the fluctuations in your emotions and when they change from one emotion to another.?Are you able to accurately identify which emotion you have, and whether you have a simple emotion or a complex of emotions.?
- Being able to understand the emotions that are driving your behaviour, thinking or memory.
- Being aware of the emotions behind what you are saying and how you are relating to and communicating with people.
Your voice tone alone can change in many subtle ways with different emotions, people hear the change even when the words stay the same.
- Being aware of the emotions that are leading you to avoid a task or situation.
- Being able to recognise the patterns and habits in your emotional responses and reactions.
Self awareness is not complete if you’re not aware of the emotions of others.Emotional awareness of others is the skill of perceiving and understanding others’ emotions.There are many aspects to this. For example, it may mean:Being able to observe the non-verbal signals people give that indicate how they are feeling. These may include voice tone, facial expression, eye movement, head position, postural changes, speech characteristics, breathing characteristics, and more.Being able to understand accurately what these signals mean with regards to their underlying emotions. This is not the same as misreading a person. Some people take things personally even when the emotional signals are nothing to do with them.Being able to perceive the impact that you are having on someone else. Being able to read the play in meetings.Being able to hear people when they are expressing their emotions without belittling, ridiculing or dismissing them, e.g. not telling them they are “being too emotional”.Being able to ask people how they feel. Being able to understand why certain emotions may have arisen in certain contexts.Paying attention to the emotions of others in meetings, negotiations, performance reviews and other situations in which they emerge at work, family.EMOTIONAL AWARENESS is perceiving emotional overtones in an organisation, team or interaction, even when these remain unspoken.
- BELIEF RESTRUCTURING
In belief restructuring the basic idea is that our beliefs have a real world impact on how we think, feel, and act. And when we hold beliefs in our heads that don’t serve our interests or values, those beliefs can spillover into our lives and hurt our ability to be happy or successful.One thing to understand is that our beliefs are rarely based solely on facts and evidence, but rather our interpretation of the facts and evidence.Every collection of facts is framed in a certain way and looked at through a particular perspective.When you practice reframing your beliefs, the goal isn’t to delude yourself or ignore reality.Instead, the goal is to look at the same facts through a new perspective and interpret them in a way that can keep us motivated and inspired.There are always multiple perspectives to any situation or circumstance. By teaching yourself how to change your perspective, you can discover the best way to view a situation so that it brings out your best possible self.Here are some examples of restructuring or reframing your belief (s):“Failure is a learning experience.”This is a very common reframe where we view a particular failure in our lives as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve ourselves. Almost every happy and successful person uses this reframe, whether they realize it or not.“Look at the bigger picture.”Another common reframe is to “zoom out” on our current situation and view it from a broader perspective.When we are caught up in the moment, every little experience can seem like a big deal. The “big picture” perspective is a great way to stay grounded and balanced, no matter our present circumstances.Everyone develops a set of beliefs about the world, which shapes their life and influences their perceptions.The way in which people interpret events plays a huge role in determining their behaviour, and this , in turn, affects how they feel, The personal meaning of a life event, a hassle, an illness , or a bad habit will influence how it is handled. If thinking is faulty, the consequences can be particularly far reaching, both in terms of how one responds and how one reacts emotionally. Faulty thinking can act as a stressor by biasing one’s interpretation of everyday situations and events, also by biasing one’s outlook, through erroneous or maladaptive beliefs, thinking is largely a matter of self talk. People talk to themselves, inside, all the time, silently telling themselves things about themselves and their world. This is the outcome of a developmental process that takes place over a number of Years.Because people are such creatures of habit, they consistently respond to and interpret situations in particular ways.Take a look at this alphabet A,B,C.”A” stands for Antecedent – an event”B” stands for Blank – thoughts”C” stands for consequence – mood and feelings. When something happens (A), people often find themselves in poor or low spirits (C) later , and do not know why. Changes of humour or mood often seem to “just happen.” Let me give an example, Kunle saw an old friend this afternoon(A) , and is now feeling miserable (C). What he and people in general are unaware of is the thinking, the self talk(B) that takes place between (A)and (C). For example, seeing an old friend might, under review, have elicited the following sequence of thoughts:If I greet Dave, he may not remember me…..he may snub me…it’s been long…we won’t have anything on common. It won’t be like old times. Anyway, he looks as young as ever, and in have put on so much weight. He looks as if he has done well, too; that’s an expensive suit.What can we spot here?Can you figure that it is the thoughts on Kunle’s mind that evoked the sad feelings on his mind? I mean there’s nothing inevitable about seeing an old friend and feeling sad.The point is that between an event and a change in mood there is always a train of thoughts. These thoughts flow so quickly and silently that people are generally unaware of them and suddenly find themselves angry or upset.Let’s call the event (old friend passing by)A; the train of thoughts (did not see me….snubbed me…we won’t have anything in common…) B; and the resulting mood(feeling sad). Kunle would generally be unaware of the train of thoughts between A and C; but he finds his mood changed, and does not know why. If he examined the thoughts sequence, he would see that he has jumped to several conclusions on the basis of little or no evidence.He is angry and upset that , because an old friend may not remember him, or that he is looking good , he looks as if he has done well.. It sounds ridiculous, but it happens all the time.Things people say and do can be interpreted in number or ways. How often has an innocent remark made by a colleague or friend put you in a bad mood?It is not the remark , but the thoughts (B) that follows the remark that determine the outcome:”Why did my husband offer , out of the blue, to Cook dinner tonight? Does he think my cooking is getting boring? Come to think of it, I have not tried out any new recipes in a long time. But then, he has been working late so much, and eating out in all those fancy restaurants… I can’t keep up…And he always seem to have so much energy. He is particularly in good form these days…despite the late hours. His new secretary has relieved him of a lot of the pressure and frustration. How I’m I sure they’re not having sex… He said she is really efficient, She becomes gloom.Unfortunately, people can get into the bad habit of consistently misinterpreting situations, reading too much into things. When this happens the resulting effect is on their emotions which in turn affect their behaviour. With belief restructuring Kunle can identify maladaptive thinking/beliefs, recognise its adverse impact , replace them with more adaptive thought patterns.Belief restructuring enables you to always paint a very different picture of the same situation, one that is kinder to everyone concerned. It also helps to understand the degree to which our thinking affects our behaviour and mood.As I wrap up, let’s carry out an exercise. Grab a jotter or an exercise book.Think of a belief of a thought or any isolated problem situation, or a particular situations that you have identified as consistently upsetting. On your jotter or on a plane sheet of paper draw a line across. On the left hand side write SELF TALK, on the right hand side write SELF DISPUTATION. On the left hand side(self talk column) identify the negative self talk e.g I’m not good enough, I’m not good in math, I’m not looking so beautiful like other girls, On the negative self talk column you can write that you don’t want to go into another relationship because you don’t want to get your heart broken again, or that relationships are emotionally/mentally draining or because all guys are the same. Whatever the thought / belief is… On the self disputation column try to dispute the negative self talk. Learn to evaluate and dispute the truth of what you are saying to yourself in problematic situations, and supply yourself with a more realistic and objective appraisal. In time, as you do this, this new perspective replaces the older, maladaptive one. The more positive outlook so generated, in turn, influences feelings, attitudes, emotions , and behaviour on a more general level.The idea , as with many cognitive techniques, is that by working out things on paper, the next time you’re in a similar situation, instead of automatically switching on the negative, self defeating thought, the more rational alternative thoughts will interrupt and come to mind. When this happens on a number of occasions, and the outcome is more pleasant and rewarding, the new internal dialogue takes from the old. In effect , new habit is formed, and the psychological consequences are very different.Download the full compilation of all sessions of Peniel’20 Here.