Time management: secrets from the brain and mind

time

 

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

– William Blake, extract from Auguries of innocence

 

Getting things faster, with less effort, increasing productivity: this is at the core of any theory and practice behind what we call Time Management.

Since the beginning of the last century, it has been a credo followed by many, and an undisputed principle in societies where driving achievement is the most admired and pursued skill.

But, surprisingly enough, it is also how our brains work: always looking for the easiest way and the best results.

Have you ever wondered how our brains perceive time? And how psychology understands it?

Have you asked yourself if our neurons are able to multitask? Or if you can handle any situation effectively, without letting memories or worries about the future interfere?


In this article, I’ll try to address some of these questions, taking a brief look at what neuroscience and psychology have to say us about time.

 

INDEX

Part I: The Brain

Part I: The Psyche

Part I: The importance of the here and now. A practical approach and some exercises

 

 

Part I: The Brain


Our study reveals how the brain makes sense of time as an event is experienced. The network does not explicitly encode time. What we measure is rather a subjective time derived from the ongoing flow of experience.” Albert Tsao

 

In our societies, we live immersed in conventions: clocks – and social conventions – measure and establish what a minute or an hour is, and we act accordingly. Nevertheless, our brains process time in a completely different way. Our mind and body have their own rules.

In our body, the experience of time is determined in two ways: by circadian rhythms or measured directly in our brain.

I’ve written an entire article about circadian rhythms; you can check it out here. But for the purpose of this article, let’s mention the basics.

The circadian rhythm is our internal clock. It is regulated mainly by the hypothalamus – which is also in control of other things, such as hormones, temperature, appetite, sexual behaviour, and emotions.

Our biological clock is reset each day, by sunlight. Although its primary function is exactly the same for all of us, the actual regulation of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness varies, depending on the person.

In short, this is the clock which tells us which part of the day when we are more alert and which part when we’ll find energy levels lower and will feel more sleepy. This internal clock which regulates our body is the reason why we feel uneasy when we are forced to adapt ourselves to new social conventions, or when we need to adjust to sudden changes (like travelling and jet lag, for example).

 

And what about our brains?

Research in the field of neuroscience has shown that the hippocampus – that seahorse-shaped part of the brain within the limbic system – plays a part in the formation of new memories.
In fact, it tracks time, in 10-second laps.

The capacity all we humans have, to associate and remember different events, is an essential part of what is called episodic memory, which will translate into something like “what”, “where” and “when” a particular thing happened.

A recent study by Albert Tsao and colleagues at NTNU’s Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience shows that there is a “neural clock” in our brains, keeping track of time.

Albert Tsao commented, “The network does not explicitly encode time. Instead, what we measure is subjective time, derived from the ongoing flow of experience“.

Let’s stop here for a moment. What does this mean?

It means that our neural clock is a sort of organiser, and what it does is arrange our experiences sequentially.

Therefore, what we experience as time is nothing more than the result of tracking our experiences in a specific order, merely accompanying the ongoing flow.

 

But there is more from the neuroscience field: a group of researchers in the NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), made a crucial discovery.

In the brain, there is a network of cells (located right next to the areas which also encode space) which expresses our sense of time, within each experience and memory.

This network provides timestamps for events, and keeps track of the order of events within an experience,” says Professor Edvard Moser, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience.

 

But enough with neuroscience: what about psychology? How does the psyche interpret time? And how we deal with this interpretation?

time


Part II: The Psyche

 

” Psychological time is a product of the mind, more than a reflection of natural chronometric order” T.R. Trautmann

“The unconscious has no time” C. Jung

 

We all know that the perception of time is subjective. What is a minute for two lovers? Or for somebody who has missed the train? Or for a mother, waiting at the airport for the plane carrying her son to land?

However, despite this subjective aspect of time, humans need to be able to judge the duration of a particular event objectively. It is an essential part of living in society, in relation to others.

So, how does the psyche function to adapt to conventions? Does the mind suffer in any way because of this? How does the mind perceive time?

Psychology has always been fascinated with this subject – the perception of time, and it is in fact an academic field of study.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, never talked specifically about concepts such as time and space. There are no specific articles, chapters or books in his work devoted to the matter. What we have instead are documents and books, focused on what are considered pillars in psychoanalysis, intrinsically related to the notion of time. I’m talking here about subjects such as trauma, amnesia, fixation, repetition, and regression, just to name a few.

Time is undoubtedly at the heart of psychoanalysis, a science which tries to understand how present conflicts are determined and affected by events which occurred in the past.

Well, the thing is that in the unconscious mind, past, present and future coexist. Yes, timelessness is one of the characteristics of the unconscious mind. Time is not linear. (Nachträglichkeit – afterwardsness): we can see the effects of an old traumatic experience reinvesting a current event and arising, here and now, with the strength of then).

 

Moving away from psychoanalysis, we can see that other theories also put the emphasis on the concept of time.

In the case of the Gestalt, for example, the focus is on the present. Specifically, the here and now.

To me, nothing exists except the now.” said Fritz Perls.

Concepts like awareness and present are fundamental to this theory, and modern times and schools have developed all sorts of exercises to help the mind to remain, as long as possible, in the present moment.

But this emphasis does not mean to ignore the importance of the past and the future.

Acknowledging that the mind will tend to dwell in the past or project into the future, Gestalt reinforces the need to focus on the here and now.

 

And what about Emotional Intelligence?

Dr Daniel Goleman popularised the words coined by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer. With a particular emphasis on the connection between the fields of psychology and neuroscience, this approach sees time as a precious resource.
Thus, time management is a desirable skill in reaching goals and general productivity.

I won’t overextend myself here, because I will dedicate a full article to this subject very soon. What I will say, is that for this theory, time – as well as emotions – can be managed and controlled.

To influence productivity and, therefore, success, you need to understand and control your emotions.

 

time

 

 

Part III. The importance of the here and now. A practical approach and some exercises

 

Time is the heart of existence.” Henri Bergson

 

In this final part, I’d like to share with you some tips and exercises which will help you to remain in the here and now, focused and attentive, increasing your awareness.

Trust me: your brain will thank you.

 

  • Breath in and breath out

Sit comfortably and relaxed. Check that your spine is straight and that you’re not putting extra pressure on your shoulders.

Pay attention to your breathing, without modifying it. Just observe it.

Now, consciously, inhale slowly through your nose, counting up to 5.

Hold your breath, counting up to 5 again.

Slowly, breath out, always counting up to 5.

Repeat the exercise 3 times and then breathe normally.

 

  • Focus on the here and now

Choose an external object or sound which catches your attention (a pen, your phone, Alexa, a conversation next door, a dog barking outside the window).

Think about the object. What is it like? Does it have a particular shape, colour, smell, sound? Does it have a specific function? Note everything which comes into your mind.

Now, describe it again, beginning with: “At this moment, I notice the sound of…”, or “Right now, I’m seeing…”

End the exercise whenever you want.

 

  • Recent past, present and next future

Take a moment and choose a non-work-related activity which you often do and enjoy (e.g. going to the gym, reading, listening to music while commuting, your yoga class in the morning).

Think about the last time you did it. When was it? How was it? Try to use adjectives to describe it: fun, stimulating, challenging, pleasant. Think about it and try to recreate the emotions and sensations felt at the moment of the activity.

Now, think about the next time you will be doing the same activity. When will it be? How do you imagine it will be? Why? Try to anticipate your sensations and emotions and describe them.

Finally, take a deep breath and come back to here and now. Where are you? What objects surround you? How do you feel now?

 

Following any of these exercises, take a moment to think about your experience. Was it easy? Was it uncomfortable? Would you like to repeat it some other time and see what happens?

I strongly recommend using pen and paper (or your phone for that matter) to record the experience. That way, when you repeat it, you can compare notes and follow up changes and progress.

 

Note: This article was specially written to complement the course “Time management across different cultures”, that you can check out here.  The course, by Maria Antonietta Marino, is one of the many that Mudita Consultancy offers to those in seek of deeper understandings.”

 

——

Sources and recommended readings:

Arlow JA. Psychoanalysis and time. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1986;34(3):507-528. doi:10.1177/000306518603400301

Freud, S. Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (SE) (1886-1939) Vol I – XXV

Green, A. (2002). Time in Psychoanalysis: some contradictory aspects. London and New York: Free Association Books.

Goleman, D. (1995)  Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ

Goleman, D. (2000) Working with emotional intelligence.

Perls, F.  (1969) Gestalt Therapy Verbatim

Perls, F., Hefferline, R., & Goodman, P., (1951) Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality.

Rubin A., Geva N., Sheintuch L., Ziv Y. (2015) Hippocampal ensemble dynamics timestamp events in long-term memory. Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. eLife 2015;4:e12247 DOI: 10.7554

Soysal Acar, A.Şebnem & Bodur, Sahin & Hizli Sayar, Gokben. (2005). The here and now therapy. Anadolu Psikiyatri Dergisi. 6. 274-280.

Trautmann, T. R. (1995). Time: Histories and Ethnologies. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Tsao A, Sugar J, Lu L, et al. (2018) Integrating time from experience in the lateral entorhinal cortex. Nature. 2018;561(7721):57-62. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0459-6.

 

3 types of empathy for a better life (and business)

3 types of empathy for a better life (and business)


Empathy: a definition

The term empathy was introduced to the English language by American psychologist E.B. Titchener. He coined “empathy” as a translation of the German word “Einfühlung”, but at the time, he was referring more to other phenomena, such as motor mimicry (an imitation of other people’s behaviour).

But what we understand today, is different.

Simply put, empathy can be defined as the ability to comprehend others’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what is going on, without needing to have had the same experience.

Empathy takes more time and effort than sympathy and it is built on self-awareness.

Why? Because mastering your own emotions leads to being open enough (and willing to) understand others’ emotions as well.

“(…) when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
― Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

What will we be covering here

The importance of empathy

Which results?

Three types of empathy

Words matter

Empathy in the workplace

How to practice empathy

How to improve it

Ever since my first blog post about Emotional Intelligence, I’ve always said that empathy, like any other skill, can be learnt and improved. Just like a muscle. You can take it to the gym to prevent decay or work on it daily to make it strong and significant.

The importance of empathy in our daily life is pretty understandable; but why are its results of such vital importance when it comes to business?

Because if we can tune ourselves to our customers, co-workers, peers and superiors, we might be able to get better and faster results.

Just to name a few of them:

👉 Improving timing and quality in the delivery of goods or services, according to our clients’ needs

👉 Making important and long-lasting connections with key members in the organisation

👉 Being able to solve difficulties or help others with hindrances in time

👉 Creating bonds and connections forming the basis of loyalty

👉 Opening the doors to innovation based on mutual trust and respect

Empathy has its roots in self-awareness, nurtures itself in self-management and paves the way to relationship management.

TOP TIP

As with any other skill, empathy needs to be interlinked with other competencies and work in tandem with them to really perform at its maximum potential. 

The three types of empathy according to the Goleman model

Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman broke down the concept of empathy into the following three categories: Cognitive, Emotional and Compassionate.

Let’s take a quick look at them:

Cognitive empathy

This refers to the ability to comprehend what a person might feel or think. It is like a channel of “information”.
It answers the question: “What is the other person going through?” For example, “Tom would like to speak with his supervisor about a possible promotion, but he seems to have difficulties in finding the right way to open up a conversation ” or “My clients have been asking for a direct channel of communication with my business; the Q&A page on my website does not seem to be enough for them”.

Emotional empathy

This refers to the ability to understand the feelings of another person through an emotional connection. It answers the question: “How does the other person feel?” For example: “Tom feels his supervisor is not going to pay attention to his request, he feels intimidated and insecure and this is why he is delaying the conversation” or “My clients feel frustrated as they would like to have a direct channel of communication, with a real person and not a bot”.

Compassionate empathy

This is the third type, and goes far beyond the first two, as it involves action: if we understand and share the feelings of the other person, we can actually help. It answers the question: “What can I do to help?” For example, “I might help Tom to find ways to open up and be confident” or “I will implement a direct channel of communication on my website and a customer service line on Social Media”.

TOP TIP: words matter.

Showing empathy through words helps.

After encountering a new situation and needing more information: “Would you mind telling me more about this? The more I know, the quicker we can get it sorted”

After discovering a new event or situation: “I just wanted to let you know that I understand what you feel”

After receiving an email with a request or comment: “Would it be more convenient for you to discuss this over the phone or in person?

If you feel ready to take action: “Is there anything I can do for you? ”

Empathy in the workplace

In their 4th annual empathy study, Businessolvers’ report shows that:

📌 72% of CEOs say the state of empathy needs to evolve

📌 58% of them struggle with showing it in a consistent way

It is clear that there is still a lot to be done. Even though corporations are aware of the importance of incorporating empathy into the culture of the organization, there is still a gap between the intention and the action.

Making empathy part of the company’s culture calls for a conscious effort.


Why is it so important to build emotional empathy and implement it?

Research has already proven that empathy, among other things:

👉 boosts productivity
👉 accelerates innovation
👉 increases loyalty and customer satisfaction
👉 creates long term bonds and cooperation

So, given that there is still so much to do in this field, let’s take a look at simple but effective solutions that we can implement right away:

• Show gratitude: say thank you more often, appreciate the time and effort that others invest in you, your product and your service. Give credit for the things well done. Being grateful not only creates bonds but also shows respect and helps with dignity.

• Show you listen: practicing active listening restores confidence and helps build loyalty. A high percentage of employees, as well as customers, feel their opinion doesn’t matter. Make yourself available: create surveys, ask direct questions, handle 1-to-1 meetings, be sure that your customer service is giving the needed assistance.

• Share stories with a positive outlook, whenever you can but especially before beginning a meeting. Sharing creates a bond and helps to set an ambiance of collaboration and willingness, openness and receptiveness.

• Listen to your co-workers and team members. Make some extra time to give others the opportunity to share. Make room, physically and emotionally, for the others’ experiences. Let people talk and listen to their stories.

3 top tips to improve your empathy

👉 Know yourself and your emotions

👉Practice active listening

👉 Open up space for reflection

 

👉 Know yourself: self-awareness and self-management are the first steps that will help you improve empathy. Both will help you with: knowing yourself, your emotions and reactions, and also, being ready to manage your own feelings, creating, with confidence, a space to listen carefully to others.

👉Practice active listening and connect with the other person. Be interested in speech but also in body language. Open yourself up to understand and if you don’t, ask questions, be curious and willing to learn and understand new perspectives. Focus on understanding the situation (cognitive empathy) and how the person feels (emotional empathy).

👉 Open up space for reflection and practice self-awareness: you can relate to the others’ experience if you have had a similar one, but you can also imagine how it looks if you don’t. Explore your own feelings and emotions and ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation. Get ready to implement a solution and take action, showing compassionate empathy. Simply, ask: how can I help?

 


By now, you know that developing these skills will certainly help improve your social and emotional intelligence quotients.

If you want to improve this important skill, book a free 15-minute consultation with me. After the call, you will get a follow-up email with my proposed plan of action.

 

Why can Self-Management improve your business effectively?

Why can Self-Management improve your business effectively?

Because, for entrepreneurs and leaders alike,

Self-Management is the secret ingredient to success.

Moreover: self-management can be learnt and improved, like any other emotional skill.


In my last blog, we explored the basics of self-awareness
one of the key components of Emotional Intelligence.

Today we will dive into Self-Management and its competencies, trying to understand what they are and how we can implement better techniques and strategies to ensure they keep improving.

What will we be covering here?

What is Self-Management?

Emotional Self-Control

Self-Control: Top Tips

Adaptability

Adaptability: Top Tips

Achievement Drive

Achievement Drive Tips

Positive Outlook

Positive Outlook Top Tips

Self-Management

Let’s briefly talk about the 4 competencies under the Self-Management umbrella:

👉Emotional Self-Control

Once you have identified your emotion, the next step is to take control of it. If you can manage your emotions, you can remain calm and focused amid the most stressful situation and be of help to your co-workers and team in addition to yourself. Keeping disruptive emotions at bay is fundamental for anyone, especially for leaders.

👉Adaptability

This is the ability to be flexible and change the course of action according to the circumstances, without losing sight of the end goal. Learning how to develop this skill enables you to be flexible, without adding any stress. Life is unpredictable at the best of times, so uncertainty is expected and to be comfortable with it, is a great accomplishment.

👉Achievement Drive. Initiative and Innovation

This competence is key and entails striving towards goals whilst maintaining a standard of excellence, accepting the challenges you might encounter en route but, at the same time, improving performance and being ready to welcome opportunities. Being open to innovation is crucial in an era where everything around us changes at lightning speed.

👉Positive Outlook

The way you see the world changes your outlook of it. You can build your whole universe and turn each and every situation into an opportunity. The future always holds opportunities for improvement and positive outcomes.

Self-Management

 

So now, let’s dive in and explore how to improve each one of them!

EMOTIONAL SELF-CONTROL

“The goal is balance, not emotional suppression: every feeling has its value and significance”

Dr. Daniel Goleman – Emotional Intelligence

Dr. Goleman defines Emotional Self-Control as “the ability to manage disturbing emotions and remain effective, even in stressful situations”.

Emotional Balance (as you can also call it) speaks loudly and clearly about benefitting from the ability to manage your emotions after acknowledging their existence. Emotions can be intrusive and overwhelming.

As you may have seen previously, emotions can’t be denied nor suppressed and you cannot then avoid dealing with them. If you try to do this, you end up setting them free and this is when they take control of your body and mind.

This is why Self-awareness is so important: managing your emotions involves recognition and acceptance.

When you know what you feel, you can act accordingly. Better yet: you can learn to detect the triggers that, in certain situations, pave the way for certain reactions.

Self-control will give you the possibility to remain calm, in control and to think clearly, even in the most stressful situations.

 Self-Control Top Tips

The goal? To keep emotions in check. This will lead to well-being and success.

How can you improve it? Practice mindfulness: this will help develop your ability to pay attention without judging and help you identify what is going on without acting. Mindfulness also helps to improve observation and patience.

ADAPTABILITY 

Change is the magic door that leads to new opportunities, but the fear of the unknown can keep you paralysed. Adaptability is a key emotional competence and if you master it, uncertainty can be embraced with confidence.

The first thing to know about Adaptability is that it is the best competence to have for enabling your business to weather the storms. It allows you to not only embrace challenges but also take risks.

Being able to change perspectives means situations can be open to new developments.

What are the benefits of mastering this skill?

👉 You will feel comfortable with change

👉 You will also anticipate change and make the most of it

👉 You will be able to envision different scenarios and possibilities to attain your goals

👉 You won’t be afraid to take necessary risks

Adaptability Top Tips

The goal? Transforming the fear of the unknown into a world of NEW OPPORTUNITIES

How can you improve it? Get out of your comfort zone and pay attention to what happens. Begin with little things (change your favourite cafe, for example). Explore.

 Note: Leaders with this skill can remain focused in the middle of any storm and moreover, can be ready to receive uncertainty with open arms.

ACHIEVEMENT ORIENTATION

Enthusiasm and persistence in the face of setbacks have an undeniable payoff. Motivation is a powerful tool you can fuel on a daily basis, remembering your values and goals.

Achievement orientation is a skill that shows your capacity for permanent improvement. It generates new interests and gives you a reason for continued learning and expanding your horizons.

Do you have enough passion for what you do? This is the hidden driver that will lead you to excel in all that you do.

Setting high goals, working hard to achieve them and calculating the risks worth taking en route, is the perfect definition of Achievement Orientation.

Note: Leaders who have developed this skill are able to create an achievement culture within their organizations.

Achievement Orientation Top Tips

The goal? Learning to detect and feed your motivation. Being ready to adapt yourself and to explore and conquer new horizons.

How can you improve it? Take a piece of paper and make four columns. Complete each one with the following: what are my core motives? What goals have I set? What I am doing to achieve them? How can I make room for improvement?

 

 

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

In short, this skill is all about the ability to turn any situation into a positive outcome, identifying its new opportunities.

It entails the ability to see the “big picture” and also, to expect the best in the future. A Positive Outlook can be the difference between defeat and success because mastering this skill will allow you to identify multiple solutions and more easily overcome obstacles.

Positive Outlooks lead to

👉 better performance

👉 higher motivation

👉 creation of new opportunities

👉 empowerment

👉 greater loyalty

👉 outstanding customer service

Note: Leaders with this skill have the ability to see opportunities where nobody else can, and also have resilience, as they understand setbacks in a different way: not necessarily as obstacles but as positive challenges.

Positive Outlook Top Tips

The goal? Learning new ways to think and respond, and clearly identifying the goals that, in the end, will give you meaning and purpose. 

How can you improve it? Write in a journal. Once a week, write down in as much detail as possible, an important event or situation that troubled you. After explaining the facts – including how you responded to it –  imagine at least 2 other possible conclusions for that event. 

 

 

By now, you know that developing these skills will certainly help improve your social and emotional intelligence quotients.

 

Why is Self-Awareness so important for better business?

Why is Self-Awareness so important for better business?

Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the key component of any successful business


How can self-awareness transform situations and open an
umbrella of possibilities and success?

“Self-awareness, in short, means being “aware of both our mood and our thoughts about that mood,” John Mayer, co-formulator with Peter Salovey of the theory of emotional intelligence.”

Last week, we began to talk about the Emotional Competencies or the skills that can be learnt and improved to help us achieve better performance, reliable results with less strain and, in the end, more satisfaction and happiness.


Briefly, the four main areas of EI are:

📍 Self-Awareness: recognising our emotions is the first step. If we acknowledge them, we can choose how to control them.

📍 Self Management: this is the aspect that allows us to master our emotions, to be in control of them and give them better use when necessary

📍 Social Awareness: recognising emotions in others can help us relate to them better. Happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger and surprise are the six universal emotions that we can identify in any human being.

📍 Relationship Management: this area is the one that allows us to have an impact on our company, neighbourhood or community, our daily work with others and any social sphere. It relates to the emotions and behaviours of others and how we can be of benefit to them.

So today, we will explore Self-awareness and its competences (or skills): Emotional Self-Awareness, Accurate Self-Assessment and Self-Confidence.

What will we be covering here?

Why is self-awareness so important?

How do we detect our feelings?

The importance of the neocortex

How do we interpret our feelings?

Practical exercises and examples to improve Self-Awareness

Self Awareness and leadership

Two crucial final points to remember

Why is Self-Awareness so important?

The importance of recognising our own emotions and feelings when they are happening is crucial. This can make a difference and transform any situation.

Self Awareness

Our feelings exist – they affect us and our performance. So, being able to detect and understand what they are and what they mean, opens a new road that leads straight to

👉 an accurate sense of self-confidence
👉 a path of authenticity
👉 real productivity

Being realistic and accepting that our feelings will affect our performance directly, is the magical key that will open the door of improvement and change (when it is needed), clarity and a sense of purpose as well as, a reaffirmation of your true self.

Knowing yourself, your limits and your potential, as well as the impact that your emotions have on everything you do, sets you up for the future.

But how do we detect our feelings?

As a psychologist who studied psychoanalysis in depth, I enjoy the Freudian method of paying attention, impartially, to anything that occurs – like a witness, or someone not engaged in the scene.

Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible and like everything, the skill requires practice for it to be mastered.

Monitoring our feelings can help us understand specific reactions, they usually come in patterns. We tend to repeatedly react to certain triggers in the same manner.

So, the effective way to cut the cycle begins with paying attention to the emotion when it arises.

“I prefer the term self-awareness, in the sense of ongoing attention to one’s internal states. In this self-reflexive awareness, mind observes and investigates experience itself, including the emotions.” Daniel Goleman. Emotional Intelligence.

We can learn how to be aware of moods and thoughts too. The neocortex (the area of the brain responsible for functions such as perception cognition and language among others) activates and labels the emotions, so they can be better understood and identified.

The neocortex is the evolutionarily newest portion of the cerebral cortex, and it is where most of the higher brain functions reside.

Self Awareness


And how do we interpret them?

One tendency we all have is to immediately “judge” the feeling, giving it a positive or negative value and thinking in terms of should or shouldn’t.

For example, if the feeling is considered a negative one (against our principles, not convenient, etc.), our thought might be “I shouldn’t feel this way”.

This is the kind of thought that we need to unlearn, instead of remaining impartial which leads to acceptance and acceptance to self-management.

Tips to improve your Self-Awareness and to increase your EQ

Here are some practical exercises to strengthen Self-awareness:

1) Practising mindfulness: giving yourself some time to explore your present state is the first step. You can ask yourself some questions, such as

❓ What am I feeling right now? For example: “I feel tired. I feel anxious. I feel full of hope.”

❓ Can I identify the source of that feeling? For example: “I didn’t sleep well last night. I have a deadline. I got promoted”.

❓ Does that feeling resonate in a specific part of my body? For example: “My back hurts a little bit. My shoulders are tense. I feel warmth in my chest.”

❓ Does it have a certain weight or texture, a colour perhaps, or any attribute at all? For example: “Heavy. Red. Light”.

2) Give your emotions a name: At the moment you’re feeling an intense emotion, try to give it a name that is as accurate as possible: fear, anger, happiness, etc. If you can, write it down and if not, repeat it in your head. Give yourself some time to explore the feeling and, if possible, “be with it”.

3) Keep a journal: This can be helpful, especially if you make notes about the situation that led to that particular emotion and your reaction to it. Research has demonstrated the efficacy of writing and its connection with health.

“Writing seems to help the brain regulate emotion unintentionally. Whether it’s writing things down in a diary, writing bad poetry, or making up song lyrics that should never be played on the radio, it seems to help people emotionally,” Dr Matthew Lieberman, psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles,

If we look at this now from a leadership perspective (and when I say leadership, I mean any person that has a team, within or outside of the corporate framework), self-assessment turns out to be crucial in clearly identifying both strengths and vulnerabilities, as well as developing Self-Confidence -the sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities.

Naturally, a proper test to measure the EQ would be the right thing to do. But there are other methods that can help too such as feedback which certainly gives a leader useful knowledge.

That feedback, when it comes not only from the managers but also from the teams and employees, results in understanding the others’ perspectives. Remaining open and receptive can make the difference and open numerous opportunities for change and growth.

self awareness

Two critical final points to remember

a) Developing and improving our self-awareness is the foundation of the building; all the other floors will be built and established on this foundation. This is why it is so important.

b) The information we get from this exploration need not be viewed as any kind of judgement. Don’t dwell too much on your strengths nor your vulnerabilities.

Of course, the best way to dig deep in self-awareness is to know the tools (the exercises) that can help and have a coach with whom to discuss and clarify them.

Another way to start knowing yourself better is to do assessments. You can find plenty on the internet (some of them are free), and even though I highly recommend you to book a consultation with a professional -to evaluate results and set a course of action- some of those assessments can give you some basic information and clarify certain areas.

By now, you might be wondering, how can I improve my EIQ?
Well, improving your self-awareness will certainly help. 

 


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