One of the fundamental tenets of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), popularized by Daniel Goleman, is self-awareness. We can never be self-aware if we do not pause. It is the pause, in the midst of all that calls us to be busy, that allows self-awareness to find a grounding place where we can be at home with our selves. Until we clear out the space for self-awareness, EQ has no place to take root and grow.
When emotions are allowed to be in charge, we are held captive to a bombardment of incessant reactions that trigger unintended consequences and collateral damage to ourselves and others. If we have not experienced this for ourselves, we have certainly witnessed it, and it is never pretty. Emotions, by their nature, want to move us to action. OK. Let them move you to a pause, and not a reaction.
Our bodies are full of cues as to what we are feeling at any given moment. When we take the time, we discover that there are specific physical cues for any of our emotions. For instance, I know that I tend to carry any stress in my shoulders and neck. When I am starting to feel frustrated, I begin to move my head from left to right as a way to alleviate the stress. And it is a physical cue for me that something is frustrating me! I have learned to pay attention to this.
So, when I feel the frustration, I move to action and take a deep breath. My emotions want me to act, and I am happy to accommodate them. I just choose to do something that also works for me. It is a win/win! And in the deep breath, I am able to take advantage of the pause and make a choice between reaction and response. In the deep breath, I ground myself and inquire about what I want to choose. The pause facilitates my self-awareness and creates the space for a response that is beneficial to me and others.
How do you pause for EQ?
Originally published December 8, 2010