The last couple of years I have been actively engaging myself with meeting strangers, making friends with them and speaking to them. I speak about what is the one thing that they really care about and that is most important to them. The one most important aspect of life that they say is important to them is a unit that they call FAMILY.
I get them to share their daily and weekly schedules with me. In their own words, their family is the most important drive in their life, it is not so in their actions. They hardly spend any time with their family on a daily basis or even on weekends. When I question them about it they, more often than not, go into the victim mode of justifying how demands of modern life and career prevent them from keeping their family time and emotional commitments.
In that case, I wonder, are they being truly honest, when they say that family is most important for them? If not, who are they not being honest with? Me, as one who poses the question; their family as one who has expectations from them; or is it themselves who are fearful of confronting their own true selves?
Very often, people have built successful careers for themselves, by showing a great deal of emotional intelligence at the workplace. Even such people are not so successful when managing their own emotions in their personal life. Why this paradox? If family, as they say, is most important to them, why do they fail to manage emotions in their personal life, with their family members?
In my understanding and experience, this contrast occurs because they are not connected to their own selves. They are not aware of many of their own emotions simmering at a deeper level.
Can a person who is emotionally intelligent about others not be aware of his own emotions? Yes, of course. When he/she is fearful of confronting his/ her own inauthentic behavior, it is difficult for him/ her to connect to oneself. To be able to become aware of self, one needs to be willing to become emotionally vulnerable in front of others; one needs to be willing to unlearn the old knowledge of self and learn new aspects of oneself; one needs to be willing to let go of old baggage of emotions and opinions and be willing to make a new beginning; one needs to clean up the mess that he/she has created already in relationships and be willing to create new equations and dimensions in those relationships.
Easier said than done! We may argue, that all of us know this but this is not very practical. What, then, is required to make this practical and a reality in our lives?
To make this utopian idea a reality, it needs one to completely surrender to the coach or a Guru to attain awareness of Self. To surrender, here, is to do whatever he/ she is told to do by the coach or the Guru, in full trust, with no questions asked and be willing to be led by the other. Let us call this EMOTIONAL HONESTY.
This process of shifting one’s innermost self is the most painful experience, yet the most liberating one. When one gains the ability to intelligently manage (not control) one’s own emotions by connecting to their innermost self, he/she is in the process of becoming more and more emotionally honest with himself/herself. This person, who is already having the ability to manage other’s emotions intelligently, after being emotionally honest to oneself, moves to an altogether higher level of managing the emotional intelligence of others.
Developing emotional honesty adds dimension to the existing emotional quotient of the person. With the heightened emotional honesty with self and with others, the RELATIONSHIP QUOTIENT with oneself and with others climbs several steps of the success of the relationship.
Hence, I say, with a conviction that developing emotional honesty with our own self will catapult the emotional honesty that we have in other relationships. That alone is the basis of fulfillment in life.
Let me illustrate with an example, how I can achieve that level of emotional honesty.
Five most important things in my life (not necessarily in that order) are
- Health and wellness of the family
- Financial security for the future
- A little more money to satisfy my travel and creative yearnings
- A comfortable lifestyle in my old age
- Making a difference in the quality of life of people around me
These five priorities in my life have come out of my consciously searching within myself over a span of two years. The first list was close to hundred things that were important to me. I had to pitch each thing on the list against another to decide what was more important to me. The process of gaining this clarity connected me to my Self deeply. I emerged a fulfilled person. I emerged a person who was free to make my choice on what is most important to me, without a feeling of guilt, regret, resentment or pressure from other sources.
The clear and fulfilled person, that I am now prompt a different set of actions that I took as the confused and unclear person. A clear and fulfilled person takes actions which forward the cause with velocity.
Not working to achieve this clarity before resulted in me compromising in one area to satisfy the other area of life. AND WHAT WAS THE END RESULT? Undoubtedly, I was left with regret for not having done so many things which were important to me, not having achieved a certain important milestone in my life; regret of some relationships not working out the way I wanted it to work out; resentment about the life circumstance that I had to compromise with…… and so many more such negative thoughts and feelings.
To be able to achieve this level of ability to do deal with what one feels, one has to be able to be brutally honest with oneself. One has to be able to determine the commitment to the desired results and the ability to do whatever it takes to achieve the end without giving into moods, feelings, guilt, prejudices or external judgement.
When this kind of commitment to self is experienced, all that which were perceived as obstacles, problems or hurdles disappear and a new empowered commitment appears on the horizon.
I am also listing a few examples of fears that I experienced in my life and also some fears that my friends experienced and what those fears were actually driven by?
“I want to have a bigger purpose in life but I am unable to do so because I have family responsibilities.” – This could be something which has its source in a lack of personal courage or fearing failure. It may also be a result of reluctance to take responsibility for the consequences.
“I hate everything about this relationship, but am forced to stay in it because I have no other choice. It is my destiny!” – This could be driven by the fear of being left all alone in the world with not a person to support in bad times. The person here is willing to suffer in a bad relationship rather than undergo the pain of making a choice.
“I will pursue my passion, my hobbies after I have my own home, my own car and financial security of my family in place. This success will happen one day and I will wait for it.” – This person was not clear about what he really wanted in life for himself, nor was he clear about what success means!
There are many more examples that we may have met in our life. I am not trying to invalidate people having the above thoughts.These thoughts are what every human being has and it is natural. The point I am making here is most of us, DO NOT HONESTLY acknowledge what we really want from our lives, without which true fulfillment is not possible.
If we choose not to do this searching within ourselves and keep playing the victim card, we will be left, at the end of our life with incomplete joy, work, relationships; guilt about mess created in life with family member, friends, colleagues and others; sorrow and sadness about not having seized every moment of life to make it richer for ourselves, the people around us and many more, whom we may not even know!
Does this life, given by God and our parents deserve to end this way?
Is it not our responsibility to have God, whose creation the world is and our parents, whose creation, we are proud of us? Is it not our pride to have our family, friends, colleagues, society, and country be proud of who we are? Most of all, do we not owe ourselves the pride of having lived a rich, empowered and beautiful life?
If our answer is yes, to the above questions, then we need to take actions to align our mindset, choices, moves with what we want for ourselves. We need to move from ‘being a victim’ mode to ‘making a choice’ mode; from ‘wishing and hoping for better things’ to ‘pursuing our goals with courage and conviction’; from ‘acting or not acting with apprehensions’ to ‘taking powerful and impactful actions towards our goals’!
All of this is possible easily, I repeat EASILY when we make the choice and take the actions to be emotionally honest.Gain clarity of what is important to us without sorrow, sacrifice, guilt, fear or any other obstacle. Take actions consistent with the goal we have set out to achieve, exercise patience in face of failure, pick ourselves up, learn new approaches and pursue with confidence.
That is what will make our life full of purpose and riches. That is what will make every person emotionally intelligent in the true sense of the word.