You’ve been hijacked! No, this isn’t someone hijacking a plane. It’s you. More specifically, it is a little part of your brain called the amygdala and it has hijacked your brain. You’re not alone. At times, we all get hijacked.
Hijacked? The amygdala is the primary emotional part of your brain. It thinks not in logical reasoning, nor does it think in language or symbols. The amygdala thinks in feelings. It’s fast, very fast. Sensory inputs from our eyes and ears reach the amygdala before they reach our higher thinking area, the prefrontal cortex. This means the amygdala starts to react before our conscious is aware of the event. In the case of a triggering event (an event the causes an intense emotional reaction either positive or negative), the emotional reaction starts before the conscious reaction. This is hijacking.
The good news is that we can learn skills and techniques to reclaim our brains. Is the amygdala bad? No, it is a necessary and wonderful part of our brains. Positive emotions are wonderful. Negative emotions, when handled wisely, can be beneficial too. They can protect us and help us make decisions. The trick is to learn how to take back our brains when we are hijacked so that we properly process and respond. This is part of Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient, EQ.
Unlike the Intelligence Quotient, the Emotional Quotient is fluid, that is it can be improved, significantly improved. (There is a growing number of neuro-scientists and psychologists that believe IQ can be improved also. The extent of improvement isn’t as drastic as is seen in EQ.) With training, skill development and work, a person can make great strides in increasing their EQ.
Why should we devote our valuable time into working on this mushy stuff of emotions? Because a person’s success in life – business, relationships, family, and finances – is highly dependent on his/her level of EQ. As much as 65% of a person’s success is attributable to EQ. That’s a pretty good reason to take EQ seriously.
Here are two ways to improve EQ.
Spend some time reflecting on your day. Think about the connections between your emotions and your behaviors. Identify the things that triggered negative emotions and negative behaviors. Come up with three alternative responses for similar events in the future. Practice them.
There is strong link between regular physical activity and health emotions. Exercise produces chemicals in our brains that improve our moods, combat stress, and relax us. Ask yourself what types of activities do you enjoy? What are some small activities I can do during the day, such as taking the stairs, etc.?
You have the ability to improve your EQ and accomplish great things!
Guest blog by Connelly Hayward
Learn more about Connelly