What would life be like if you had the emotional intelligence to be able to choose healthy and slimming foods majority of the time while still occasionally enjoying the delights of the sweeter end of the spectrum? What if you had the emotional intelligence to change laziness into motivation to get yourself involved in more physical activities?
Ask yourself this:
- Is your weight gain due to emotional habits?
- Have there been times when you didn’t have the will-power to choose something healthy to eat, over something convenient that you knew wasn’t going to be helpful for weight maintenance?
- Have you felt guilty after eating not only foods that could assist weight-gain but eating too much?
If you answered yes to more than one question you could benefit from strengthening your emotional intelligence to gain control over your negative thoughts and habits.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
EQ, our emotional quotient, is another way of saying “human effectiveness” and it is important because it sets the stage for our ability to succeed in life. The field of EQ has had a profound impact on the way we think about success. It is easier for people to assume that one’s success in life is related to one’s IQ – smarter individuals are bound to triumph over those less intelligent but this is not so! It is possible for a person with an average IQ to be more successful than an IQ genius but only if the person in question has the higher level of emotional intelligence (EQ). IQ will get you through schools and colleges but emotional intelligence gets you through life. Emotional quotient (EQ) is a measure of one’s emotional intelligence, which is defined as the ability to use both emotional and cognitive thought.
The following components are part of a good EQ:
- Intrapersonal Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Stress Management
Different studies have shown that a high level of emotional intelligence helps us to achieve and maintain our goals more effectively. A research study by Lan Snell and Lesley White from the University of Sydney showed that people with a sound emotional intelligence are able to lose weight easier and have a stronger “will-power” to achieve their goals than people with a low EQ.
HOW TO DEVELOP A MORE MATURE EQ
Determine what drives your eating behaviours?
Eating because you feel unhappy or sad is a common, negative behaviour. Such behaviours can be learned and will be difficult to change if you are not aware of them. Your cravings and urges to eat are “conditioned” in your brain. When you associate consuming food with any other behaviour, the other action will trigger cravings for food and a feeling of urgency to eat. This is called a conditioned response. For example: As a child you always got a chocolate when you did something well or when you felt upset. As an adult, you are now conditioned into seeing chocolate as a reward or “help” to change a negative mood.
You start a diet and you’re keeping to it very well! What pops into your mind? “You are doing so well, you deserve a chocolate!” Some people are compulsive eaters – they have an “irresistible impulse” to eat. This seems strange as our subconscious mind will only encourage behaviours that benefit or protect us in some way. How could being fat, be a beneficial behaviour? Why would the subconscious mind allow this to happen? This is a classic example: A person gets their heart broken in a relationship. So to protect the self from getting the heart broken again, the unconscious motivates the self to become fat to keep the self out of relationships and prevent another broken heart.
You may think that the conscious mind is in control, but it is your subconscious mind that drives your behaviour. This part of your mind stores all your experiences, desires, dreams, emotions and habits. You will never resolve your problem with losing weight, unless you understand which emotions are motivating the behaviour which causes you to over eat or not exercise and therefore never lose weight. The key is to understand your emotions to be able to change them!
We all come across difficult situations that cause discomfort, stress, sadness and unhappiness. People with a high EQ are able to handle conflicts better than people who have poor intra- and interpersonal skills. Emotions can be consuming and often we do not recognise that they are occurring. In an emotionally embedded state, it is as though you are asleep, or helpless to act in a different manner to how the emotion wants you to act. You might find yourself doing things you will later regret doing while in such a state.
As self-awareness grows, you are more able to notice what you are feeling as it is occurring. Being aware of your emotions allows you to step back from them, and witness the event as though it were happening to someone else. In order to notice emotion while it is happening, you must pay attention to the following:
- Senses- Emotions are expressed physically and are reflected in your body and posture. Certain behaviours like clenched fists or gritted teeth are good signals that one is probably angry, for example.
- Thoughts and Beliefs- Emotions are expressed as thoughts. It is normal for certain thought patterns to only be present when you are upset. Your learning to notice that those emotion-linked thoughts are present in your mind becomes a clue that you are upset. For example, many people say to themselves, “Things will never ever get better, ever again!” when upset, but do not say the opposite to themselves when they are feeling okay.
- Your Actions- Emotions change your behaviours. Learn to recognise the way you act while upset. Noticing that you are suddenly raising your voice or starting to speak over other people might be clues that you are upset.
- Your Triggers- Triggers are situations, people, places, feelings, thoughts or objects that get you to start thinking or feeling something you would not otherwise have thought or felt. Triggers could initiate negative emotions which can lead to you becoming upset without your conscious awareness. Identify your triggers by watching for the things that set you off, and then writing them down. Knowing what your triggers are helps you to anticipate them so that they don’t catch you off guard. Generate a plan for handling each trigger so that it doesn’t get the better of you!
Always identify your positive and strong characteristics and focus on them. Practicing these exercises and succeeding with them will make you feel good about yourself. It is by these actions you have practiced that you will develop a better EQ to handle difficult life circumstances and be the best person you can possibly be in the real world. When you are happy and in control over your emotions you will see that cravings for food and over eating are a matter of the past.
Working on your emotional intelligence and greater internal awareness will result in the following equation: High EQ= control over food, more energy and internal happiness.
I often tell my clients that I am the “personal trainer” of their mind and emotions. So if you find it too difficult to teach and train yourself to be more emotionally intelligent, go to an expert who can help you to gain those skills quicker.