Ain’t it funny how temptations only show up with something you really want to do? Think about this…you’ve never heard a conversation like,

“Hey man, how’d you get so fit?”

“Yo, wrong place, wrong time bro.” “I was going to pick up my weekly pizza, you know how I love dough, when all of a sudden someone walked by me with one of those plastic food containers filled with broccoli. The scent of broccoli hit my nostrils and everything went down hill from there.”

Shame filling his eyes, “I didn’t get the pizza that day, I compulsively drove to the nearest farmer’s market and bought all vegetables and fruit and have been eating like that since that day. Bro one day I got home from work, tired, and was ready to sit and watch my favorite TV sitcom and all of a sudden I got this urge to workout. I couldn’t help it. That’s how I got like this! I need help man!”

Have you noticed that things worth doing or helpful to your well being are always the things that are hardest to start and continue?

When we see someone who is fit and healthy, we desire that. No need to deny it. Well, at least I do. But to get to that desired end we have to go through a process (eating well and exercising) that unfortunately does not trigger our compulsive button. If you desire something that you do not have then your willpower is what needs to be triggered. I think sometimes we wait to want to do what we say we know we want.

For instance, would this list be something that you would want to see in your life experiences?

More Confidence
More Creativity
Better Communication
More Job Promotions
More Effective Leader

Of course you would want the things on that list! Who wouldn’t? Here’s the rub. Research has found that those qualities are produced by self-awareness. This self-awareness isn’t just a simple ‘historical understanding of self,’ it’s more along the lines of what Kathy Cavallo and Dottie Brienza in their research on leadership with Johnson & Johnson describes as emotional intelligence.

But aren’t we already aware of ourselves and know what emotions we hold? Don’t we naturally reflect? Yes, but not every person has been blessed enough to express those skills listed above.

Although the nature of both these terms (self-awareness & emotional intelligence) are self-reflective, the major difference between how we normally reflect and the reflection they are talking about, is that effective reflection functions with the intent to constructively regulate, find insights and solve a problem (intrapersonally or interpersonally) rather than mere ruminating on how one is feeling.

I make that distinction because the process of realizing what the research is asking us to do is like smelling that container of broccoli. We want to be fit and healthy but we rather not do what it takes or we rather just wait until we get the compulsion to do it. We know that will never happen. We need willpower. If you want to know 5 steps on how to prime your willpower, listen to what Kelly McGonigal has to say about it.

Now, how can we constructively reflect to gain what the research calls self-awareness and emotional intelligence? I personally believe that The Core FOUR Sequence (C4S) is a great guideline for self-reflection. Why? Because it already highlights the sequence that is activated when you move. John Ratey, MD, author of A User’s Guide To The Brain, in a TedTalk mentions that moving automatically turns on the attentional system (ATTENTION), motivational system (ENERGY) and the memory system (SKILLS) in our brains.

Using The C4S to reflect is a constructive and precise way to capture the functions necessary for behavior and self-awareness. Although The Sequence has tiers of understanding, asking questions using the words Attention, Energy, Skills, and Thoughts (Tier 1) can still guide you in a great reflection. Here’s an example/exercise. I want you to think about a social situation you experienced in which you didn’t appreciate the outcome. It could’ve been at work or with a friend. Follow these questions, get a journal and answer honestly. This can take, if you’re actually trying, at least 5-10 minutes:

– What was I paying attention to while we were talking? Be specific
– What emotions did I have and which did I display during and after?
– What skills did I use while talking? Are there any other skills that I could’ve used but didn’t?
– What thoughts do I have about the situation, the people/person involved  and myself?

At the end of the C4S process, using what you’ve just uncovered, you only have two options:

  1. Let it go
  2. Push Forward (i.e. verbally lay out a plan for what the next positive step is in this situation and follow through)

There are a couple of assumptions that this exercise takes seeing that we are without a coaching relationship.

Assumption #1: You actually have a positive vision for your life
Assumption #2: You already know how it feels to let go of emotions and handle your attention (mindful practice)

Ok then, that was the exercise!

Sooo….how are you liking the broccoli?! Do you still want the qualities in the list above?

Only you can decide. Only you can use your own free willpower, no one else can do it for you.

Let me share one more insight about emotions just in case you never get into a coaching relationship with any person.

Emotions aren’t created in a vacuum. Emotions are the results of our values (known or unknown). Whenever the values we hold are validated, threatened or trespassed/violated, an emotion is produced; and the values we hold can be both psychological (ex. comfortability, respect, honesty etc) and physical (ex. family, life, clean shoes etc.). Consider what this is saying for a minute. Challenge it. See if it holds up to what you know about you.

Do you have the willpower to go after your self-awareness? Push Forward.

Note: This post is not to be taken as therapeutic advice. It is meant solely for educational purposes. If you are in need of a therapist for a mental disorder you may be dealing with please Text MHA to 741741 (Mental Health America) or 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) (National Alliance On Mental Health).

 

© 2018, Ira Webbe Jr, all rights reserved

 

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