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Why you shouldn't push to "think positive"

Feb 08, 2020

This month I’m talking about the concept of Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) and offering my own framework around how I think about EQ. (Check out the introductory post here.)

Phase 1 of EQ is self-awareness. While the 3 phases I’ll be discussing are progressive, they’re also a spiral - we keep circling around and deepening our emotional skills in each phase.

Here’s a quick pop quiz: How are you feeling emotionally right now?

If you answered “fine,” or “okay,” I want to gently encourage you to look deeper. 

“Fine” and “okay” are not emotion words. They are abstract concepts for our overall state.

If you need a little support, check out this wheel of emotion words.

The first phase of self-awareness is being AWARE of how you’re feeling emotionally at any given time. 

Our culture does not teach us how to process emotion. We want to feel happy all the time - and that’s simply not realistic. As the saying goes, “The only way out is through.” 

We can’t skip negative emotions. (Research is actually showing that suppressing, numbing or ignoring anger and other negative emotions can be a contributor to cancer.)

We can’t process and move through emotions that we are resisting or ignoring.

And we certainly can’t gloss over negative emotions because we’re trying to “look on the bright side” or “think positive” as a way to cure our cancer.

That doesn’t work.

What does work: honest self-awareness about how we’re really doing. 

Because when we aren’t tuning in with honest self-awareness, we may be numbing our negative emotions through food, alcohol, or other unhealthy behaviors (like over-shopping, over-exercising, etc.).

The problem is that we can’t selectively numb emotions. So if we are numbing negative emotions, we are also numbing positive emotions.

And we need our positive emotions for healing! Peace, love, joy - these are essential for our healing journey. 

To cut through numbing, the only way out is through - being honest about how we’re really doing. And then, radical acceptance. Acceptance to feel emotions we’re feeling in this moment.

Awareness and acceptance: this is how we move through challenging emotions. 

And this is where magic and miracles happen. 

Not by trying to control our emotional experience. But by letting our true, authentic emotional experience unfold.

To paraphrase Marianne Williamson: When you wish for a miracle, consider it done. Miracles occur naturally as an expression of love. The very nature of a miracle is that there is a surprise factor and that there is pattern interruption. Otherwise, it’s not a miracle. 

Start with awareness. How are you feeling emotionally right now?

Deepen that awareness with acceptance. I accept how I am right now. 

Because when you fight with reality, as Byron Katie says, you lose every time.

Accepting what is, instead of fighting it, can switch our bodies into “rest and restore” mode - which is essential for healing.

Practice awareness and acceptance this week, and check back next week for phase 2 of the Emotional Intelligence Quotient framework.

P.S. Want to use your cancer as a catalyst for emotional self-awareness and powerful change in your life? That’s exactly what Truth & Dare Cancer is all about. If you need help getting started, book a free consultation call, and we’ll explore how you can take the first step.

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