Thursday, September 08, 2022

Emotional Intelligence

Here's another self-help article that may offer useful suggestions for the writing life:

How to Control Thoughts and Emotions

The author, Justin Bariso, writes frequently on this topic, and his many online essays about emotional intelligence include a variety of "rules" and behavior patterns related to it. The article linked above, which appeared in our local newspaper last Sunday, lists five "rules of emotional intelligence."

The Blue Dolphin rule targets the bad habit of obsessively rehashing thoughts we'd prefer not to fixate on. It counteracts the familiar problem inherent in trying not to think of something, e.g., a white bear. The harder you attempt to banish that polar bear from your mind, the more persistently it looms. Instead, replace the unwanted thought with a different one, such as a blue dolphin.

The other rules deal with (1) Awkward Silence -- don't leap in with an answer to a tough question instantly, but take a long, thoughtful pause; (2) Scope -- before you start, define the details of a task, what's involved in it, and the amount of time and effort it will require, important for authors mapping out how much time they'll need to complete a writing project without rushing and getting overwhelmed; (3) the Diamond Cutter -- use critical feedback to transform the diamond-in-the-rough of your work into a polished gem (as in Karen's post last week); (4) Recentering -- "reaffirm your primary goals, values and key principles," in other words, in writing as in any endeavor, creative or otherwise, clearly set your priorities.

To me, these five principles focus more on cognitive than emotional habits, even though they're labeled "rules of emotional intelligence." As hinted by the title, they seem more like methods of managing one's thoughts and thus, maybe, controlling emotions as a byproduct.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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