10 Steps to EQ, by Ray Mathis

Step 1 – Learn and appreciate the important role emotion plays in everyday life. Emotion is energy to move to help us deal with threats and get what we want and need.  The problem is that people too often generate more than is helpful or necessary.  They do that because they manufacture threats where they don’t exist or magnify ones that do out of proportion to reality.  Some emotions are excitatory, others inhibitory.

Step 2 – Choose to have Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA) and Unconditional Other Acceptance (UOA). It means choosing to see what we and others think, feel, say or do as part of being human and understandable given what our life experiences have been.  USA is important because otherwise shame can block change.  USA frees us to look at what we think, feel, say and do.

Step 3 – Develop an Internal Locus of Control.  Recognize that it’s really what we choose to think about what others say and do and what happens that causes how we feel, not the events of our lives.  Thoughts cause feelings, not events.  There is always more than one way to look at anything.  Some will make us feel better, others worse.  With practice we can learn to choose ways that make us feel better.

Step 4 – Learn to recognize when you and others engage in irrational thinking.  There are four basic types of irrational thinking: Demandingness, Awfulizing, Can’t Stand It-tis and Labeling and Damning.  People start to think they need things they simply want, start to treat preferences as necessities, and start to demand what they simply desire.  They choose to see what happens as awful instead of just unpleasant, inconvenient or uncomfortable.  People tell themselves they can’t stand what they simply don’t like.  They label and damn a person or themselves instead of just disliking their own or others’ behavior.

Step 5 – Learn to correct irrational thinking in yourself and challenge it in others.  There are simple ways to question irrational thoughts in ourselves and challenge them in others.  With practice, doing so can become automatic, like grammar check on a computer.

Step 6 – Adopt a step-by-step way to approach troublesome life events.  The key is to identify the thoughts we have about others, ourselves, life and what happens because they cause feelings, not events, and attitude is always the father of behavior.

Step 7 – Practice a simple, non-judgmental way to evaluate thoughts, feelings and action.  It involves simple questions. The first, “What do you really want?” The second, “How’s it working for you to think, feel, say and do what you are now?  Is it helping you get what you want, or making doing so harder?”

Step 8 – Recognize when you and others have mistaken goals.  People often adopt mistaken goals that get them off course from getting what they really want and need.  Recognizing when we have mistaken goals can be a first step in getting back on course.

Step 9 – Understand why change is hard and what it takes.  We all create ‘ruts’ in our brains (neuropathways) from practicing certain ways of thinking, feeling, saying and doing things.  ‘Ruts’ make thoughts, feelings and behaviors automatic and hard to change. We can consciously make new ‘ruts’, to create new behaviours and habits for ourselves.

Step 10 – Get in the habit of speaking and asserting yourself with I-Messages.  YOU-Messages are what people commonly use, but they are not helpful or effective with others.  I-Messages give others information and leave it to them what they want to do about it.

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