This week in my blog I want to bring greater understanding to the process of developing Emotional Intelligence and show you how it applies to relationships in general, and to Domestic Violence in particular.
With two women every week losing their life as a result of Domestic Violence, and given that we have to dedicate the entire month of May specifically to the prevention of Domestic Violence, I know we all agree that the direction we are heading in needs to change.
Children are losing their mothers, parents are losing their daughters, siblings are losing their sisters and there is no undo button for what can only be described as an absolute tragedy every time a woman has her life taken from her as a result of a domestic dispute.
Of course, death is the extreme outcome of the problem and there are many more women who are suffering – mostly in silence – from repeated bouts of abuse and physical violence toward them.
I am very pleased to see that a television advertising campaign has been launched that is generating thought and conversation around the issue. Learning to show respect for women starting at a very young age is an important part of the solution in my opinion, but I believe the issue runs much deeper, and that there are a couple of stages of emotional growth that need to be addressed even before we start thinking about how we feel toward others or how we are impacting on them.
Today I want to show you the 5 stages of emotional growth that we must go through in order to become functional and responsible decision makers in all areas of our lives. When we understand how emotional maturity comes to be, we can effectively direct ourselves and our children toward attaining emotional maturity, and when we attain emotional maturity, we are most unlikely to ‘lose control’ or harm anyone, including ourselves, and we certainly wouldn’t take a person’s life.
Stage 1 is Self-Awareness
This is the stage where we learn to (i) articulate what we are feeling and (ii) adequately identify the intensity of our feelings. These are not skills we are – or are not – born with. These are skills we learn and if we are lucky, we have great role models in our lives who model these skills for us from a very early age.
Stage 2 is Self-Management
Self-Management literally refers to our ability to manage ourselves in a functional manner once we are aware of our feelings and the intensity of them.
I cannot overstate the importance of these 2 stages with regard to our emotional maturity. Until we understand and implement the skills associated with the first 2 stages of emotional intelligence, we are not in control of ourselves. We are loose canons at the mercy of people and events outside of ourselves and we cannot be sure how we might behave in various circumstances.
Domestic Violence is not the only potential outcome for someone who is in pain and unaware of their feelings and the intensity of them. Self-harm often occurs here in many forms including extreme risk-taking, cutting and harmful addictive behaviours. There is always a lot of unrecognised, unexplored and unresolved pain beneath these harmful behaviours.
It is not unnatural either, to believe that if the people around us would just change the way they do things then we would be much happier and easier to get along with, but how disempowering is that perspective? We would all be waiting a long time to be happy if our happiness and “good moods” were dependent on the choices others made in their lives.
Emotional maturity is being able to manage ourselves and our behaviour regardless of what is going on around us and until we fully understand that, we can never be truly happy. Nor can we be relied upon to behave response-ably.
This is the first area where we can, as individuals, have the biggest impact on Domestic Violence in our society. We can make sure we are managing ourselves for starters. We can practice naming our feelings and judging their intensity and then we can explore what we can do to manage ourselves better and more effectively.
If you are avoiding facing any painful feelings, or if pain is keeping your from adequately mastering these skills, I implore you to find a counsellor you are comfortable with and explore any driven behaviours you might have that are harmful to you or to someone in your life, so that you can then go on to establish and nurture healthy relationships and stop any pattern of abuse or violence toward yourself and others.
Stage 3 is Social Awareness
Social awareness is the awareness of how our decisions and actions are impacting on the people around us, and we cannot be fully aware of how we are impacting others if we do not have a good grasp of the first 2 stages of emotional maturity.
Stage 4 is Relationship Skills
Relationship skills need to be developed in order to be able to establish and nurture important connections in our lives, as well as communicate our needs adequately and be able to restore a relationship to it’s functional place when we are human and hurt someone.
Stage 5 is Response-able Decision Making
Finally, when we understand how emotional growth occurs and we make the decision to consciously develop or parent ourselves into emotional maturity using these steps, we reach a place where we are able to make decisions about how we want to respond to the people and circumstances in our lives, rather than react to them from a place of pain or hurt that we had no idea existed let alone how intense our feelings were.
Men are not the only ones who struggle with emotional maturity, and whether we are talking about preventing Domestic Violence, child abuse, overeating, or childhood development issues, our level of success in EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, will come back to our emotional intelligence and how capable we are emotionally. Today, however, we are talking about it in reference to violence toward women.
Further to learning how to manage ourselves better, the second thing we can do to help curb Domestic Violence in our society is to start judging men by their emotional IQ before we judge them by how much money they have, how good-looking they are or how popular they seem to be. Look seriously at who they are when times get tough. This is when we find out how emotionally mature a man is and whether or not he is capable of managing himself in a way that honours himself and his loved ones.
A real man, to me, is one who is self-aware, able to manage himself and able to respond thoughtfully and compassionately to what life throws at him. He is nurturing, he takes responsibility for himself and his choices rather than blame others, and even if he wants to, he doesn’t run away when things get tough.
Let’s start encouraging all of our men to be emotionally mature and by our example teach our boys how to manage their emotions from the earliest possible age. Can you imagine how juicy your life could be if emotional intelligence were to be your number one priority for yourself and for a partner? Everyone will be happier and healthier, including our men.
If you would like to know how you can develop your Emotional IQ, I write in much greater detail about developing Emotional Intelligence in my book 6 Keys To Happiness and I also include lots of exercises that help my readers to develop a healthy self-awareness and healthy tools for living an emotionally rich and juicy life.
Please share this post so that others might come to better understand emotional intelligence and have the opportunity to have a positive impact on Domestic Violence today.
Important Links for creating a Juicy Life in 2016
If you want to know more about Holistic Counselling and Relationship Coaching follow this link:
I look forward to working with you and alongside you while you create your very own Juicy Life in 2016