Where Logic Ends and the Heart Begins
Do you want to know a key to enhancing what you see? It involves more than your eyesight—and more than your mind. It involves your emotions, which include something many of us refer to as heart.
Many researchers have studied how emotions influence our lives. You may have heard of emotional intelligence, which in large part refers to how well we interact with others. Yet, despite all of the available information, most of us remain unaware of how our emotions influence every part of our lives and how they affect the lives of others. To better understand yourself, emotional intelligence is a subject well worth studying.
In the life and leadership coaching professions, one of the ways we help people is by moving them from only thinking about things to experiencing them. To do this, the person must incorporate the brain, body, and emotions—the entire being.
Real change involves the whole person, not just the ability to think analytically. Emotions provide valuable information outside of cold hard facts. Emotion is where we really live our lives.
We are emotional beings, after all, and to deny that is to deny our humanness. In truth, we are both thinking and emotional human beings.
If we see things only with logical thinking, we see narrowly, through blinders, with limited perspective. When we see with our entire being, including our emotions, we see more broadly.
Sure, we can gain additional perspectives through thinking alone—but without using more of who we really are, without incorporating our whole being, we will miss opportunities to broaden our perspectives in a truly meaningful way.
The first step to seeing more is to see more of yourself, which includes embracing both your rational thought and your heartfelt emotions. Anything less can severely restrict our sight.
To think rationally requires setting aside your emotions and seeing purely what is there. When we operate from our thoughts, we think about the facts and what they present. Sometimes, this is the right approach. If your finances are in disarray, your bank account is empty, and your credit cards are maxed out, then—despite how you feel about your situation—you need to be rational and make plans to rectify the situation.
Yes, emotions like fear can overwhelm us and hold us back. Yet used properly, your emotions can propel you forward into a new plan that can eventually create a solution.
Let’s consider a simple thing you can do to observe how emotions drive your life. Think of an event that has happened recently at work or home. For example, I had a meeting yesterday that was primarily about reviewing some facts and figures for a project. While it seemed a straightforward affair, in hindsight, I can see there was a fair amount of emotion involved as well. There usually is.
Two of my colleagues were disagreeing about one “fact,” and I could feel tension in the room. I noticed it first in the tone of voice from the person who thought the “fact” was incomplete. He made a good point. Yet the person who presented the information was up in arms trying to defend what he presented. While this was not a high-conflict situation, it was easy to see the emotions involved.
Take another situation that happened to me recently, when I was flooded with emotions. A man came into a rather empty restaurant where my wife and I were having an early dinner, and he asked if I owned a white car of a certain make. I said yes, and he proceeded to tell me he had just backed into it!
Now, my car was less than two months old, and I had intentionally parked in an empty area so as not to get my doors dinged. My first reaction was not pleasant. I thought, What kind of an idiot would back into a car in a nearly empty area of a parking lot?
But then it hit me. I had backed into a car before, too, and I wasn’t an idiot. The gentleman seemed genuinely sorry. So what could I do? After I calmed down, we exchanged insurance info and obtained a police report to make sure my car would be repaired. Then, when there was nothing left to do, I went back to enjoying dinner with my wife.
Pay particular attention to your emotional attachment to whatever happens. Your preconceived notions can get in the way of the truth.
It’s not always easy to recognize the reality of a situation, but this is a skill worth working on. By knowing when to curb your emotions and when to use them, you’ll be better equipped to handle any situations that arise.
When you notice the emotions involved in what happens, you learn far more about what is happening than when you just see what appears on the surface. It’s like the difference between reading a transcript of a meeting and actually being present to witness the enthusiasm, resistance, and commitment of the participants.
The bottom line here is to pay attention to both the facts and the words you hear or read, and also to the tone of voice, the body language, and the atmosphere that exists. The more you consider each encounter with another human being, the more you’ll notice how emotions underlie everything. Emotions are vital because they often drive the outcome.
To improve your insight and sense of understanding, it is important to become more self-aware of your emotions and rational thinking by examining your perspectives. Your perspectives can be broadened and increased by noticing the influence of patterns, attitudes, and other people in your life.
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