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The Real Crisis?


Headline news everywhere reports one crisis after another - on an almost daily basis. Interestingly, there is one factor in almost every reported crisis which is hardly ever mentioned, and certainly not in the context of any headlines, yet this one factor is actually fuelling most if not all of them. We could call it the real crisis.


That factor is the impact of our human emotional state. Our often unseen and unaddressed emotions are driving thoughts and beliefs and the decisions we make. While we acknowledge issues of mental health, stress, the importance of talking about feelings and even their impact on physical health, we do not talk enough about the fact that our emotions impact our brains, triggering thinking that drive the behaviour that leads to most if not all the events that become crises. And we definitely do not talk enough about the fact that we have the capacity to manage and change those emotions – that we can actually choose what we feel. *


On a global level, the economic crisis and recession, the numerous environmental predicaments and all other crises we face, are a result of people’s emotions getting out of control. Greed, cravings, power-hunger, the need-to-control, insecurities, angst about ‘what if’s’, defensiveness, cynicism, judgment, over-confidence, self-righteousness, conceit, and indifference, are all emotions that lead to behaviour which is, invariably, inappropriate – and often destructive.


To illustrate this on a personal level, take a moment to consider a time when you felt any of the above emotions. I know it may be uncomfortable, but just for a few seconds, try. Then consider the behaviour or actions the emotion resulted in. Are you happy, in retrospect, with the effects of your behaviour? Or do you have regrets? I can only guess that like me, you do not feel good about it! Yet, it will likely happen again, and again, and again, because emotions unchecked will determine how you act, whether you know what you feel or not.


The true power of emotions is the missing piece in the puzzle of why, when we know we are acting destructively we keep doing it, and why it is so hard to control or change a habit. Emotions are stronger than logical or ‘reasonable thought’ - and the part of the brain responsible for our strongest emotions, when triggered, limit our ability for clear thinking or to access our capacity for what we now call emotional intelligence or EI. The good news is that this capacity for EI is actually innate and, believe it or not, relatively uncomplicated for most to develop.



The last three decades has seen numerous published studies with findings showing the importance and benefits of emotional intelligence. There are countless books, programs and easily accessible guidelines tell us how to develop it. So then what’s the problem? Why don’t we give it more attention? And why aren’t we all becoming more emotionally intelligent?


Recent research findings show that EI is actually on the decline! How can that be?


According to co-directors of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Drs Marc Brackett and Robin Stern the number one problem is implementation.

People give lip service to wanting EI but don’t necessarily devote effort to gaining the skills. You can’t hold a one-hour workshop or put kids in a circle to talk about feelings and call it EI.’


Emotional intelligence is indeed a set of skills, and while this is good news, mastering these skills is a developmental process like learning to read. It takes a bit of work. Just being aware – while crucial – is not enough. And when it comes to children, you cannot teach them EI unless you first teach the adults in their lives. There are no short cuts. As Brackett and Stern remind us, ‘Becoming emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent is hard work. That’s a hard sell in a culture that, over the past 30 years, has promoted the idea that you can gain mental health by taking a pill.’


Sorry to say, there is no pill. However, as EI can be taught (a fact many do not realise), and relatively easily at that, it has the potential to eventually become as commonplace as reading or writing. This could have a profound effect on us all and on our relationships – never mind leadership and on reducing the amount of crises around the world!

Of course, the first steps towards achieving this requires each of us to ‘devote the effort to gaining the skills.’



Emotional intelligence, as a group of competencies, begins with awareness – start by noticing and naming your feelings,. Studies have shown that the more feelings you can name as you notice them, the better you’ll be at self-management, and this applies to all ages.

Developing EI then moves on to understanding and effectively managing our own and others’ emotions, building the skills to take charge of the underlying drivers that are those emotions.. Once we become more tuned in to our feelings and what they mean to us, we become more emotionally ‘literate’ and can act and respond increasingly more in alignment with our values and what really matters to us - becoming less prone to reactionary decisions that can end in regret or at worst, a crisis. When we achieve this mastery of EI, we know what we feel and whether any given feeling is serving us and/or those around us, AND we know what to do about it if it is not.


For more information about our coaching to help you increase your emotional intelligence and mastery, and our NEW upcoming online programs, contact us here.!


* Exceptions would include emotions such as grief brought on by a loss, (in which case it would be inappropriate to try to ‘force’ the grief-process), or depression brought on by physiological causes (which may require professional help).





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