Did you know that you have, on average, 70,000 thoughts per day? Yes, that’s right – 70,000 thoughts. You may think that’s shockingly a lot! What if you knew that only five percent of those 70,000 thoughts are new ones? Three thousand five hundred thoughts are new. The rest is a repetition of beliefs you fall back to every single time throughout the day.
How did we get here?
As for every sacred hurdle, there is a root cause. It is essential to understand the origins and the context of your situation before moving forward in life with more knowledge and, thus, more personal power. Between the age of 0 – 7, your mind – the subconscious mind – has absorbed all the information, the belief systems, the thinking patterns, and conditioning from your direct environment. Between the age of 7 – 14 years, you start to model some or all of the personality traits of one or both of your parents. In my case, I modeled the low levels of confidence from my mother and the stubbornness of my father!
A recipe for many disasters later on in life, and one day I will write a book about it!
A great book to read about the science behind the power of your subconscious mind is The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton. Dr. Lipton is a world-renowned scientist and has conducted years of research to demonstrate how our thoughts are responsible for how we feel in any given situation.
“We are not our thoughts, for they are our resistance to change when you fuel them with negative and disempowering narratives.”
How does this correlate with EQ?
Our minds are wired to default mode of negative thoughts. Because as a child and throughout our school years, how many times did we hear NO? How many times were we primed to succeed exams and marked with a grading system that reflected the intelligence of the educational system, not our own? Our whole lives, we are raised with more with limiting beliefs because that’s what feels comfortable and familiar to us. Even if the price we pay is feeling more negative emotions than positive ones, more suffering than ease, more frustration than flow, more heartache than love.
Each thought you think triggers a type of emotion, and it seems only natural that if you think a negative thought, you will feel a negative emotion and vice versa. Yet many people believe that it is too difficult to master their mind. That seems illogical. Yet it is how our brain is wired because of our extraordinary focus on what’s WRONG with us instead of what’s STRONG in us.
One practice I use with my friends, family, and clients is the methodology of the VIA Character Strengths survey. This survey is rooted in positive psychology and preceded by several years of research across the globe and in remote areas of the world to assess what makes us human. What are those character strengths that can bring the best version of ourselves? The classification of 24 strengths was born as a result of surveying and interviewing thousands of people across over 50 countries worldwide.
“Character strengths are positive parts of your personality that define who you are and help you reach positive outcomes“.
– Ryan Niemic, PsyD, Education Director, VIA Institute on Character
These character strengths can help you use what comes naturally to you and your best version to navigate life’s challenges. Let me walk you through an example of my own on how to use your character strengths when you face adversity.
I got a flat-out NO for a job interview I nailed
Several years ago, I had interviewed for a senior executive position, and I was recommended by the interview board unanimously for the post. Like with every bureaucracy, many signatures were necessary before I was supposed to get the final CONGRATULATIONS, YOU GOT THE JOB! I knew on an informal level that I was selected, and I was over the moon. I had several failed interviews and tests before this triumph that had left my ego reeling of shame. This was also the job I had dreamed of doing for many years as it was closely aligned with my natural ability to build bridges amongst diverse stakeholders.
So you can only imagine my painful disappointment, the questioning of my self-worth, my default negative thinking on steroids when I learned that someone high up did not feel I was the right person for the job and signed off with: NO, RE-COMPETE THE POSITION!
When shit hits the fan, turn inwards
I am not going to bore you with all the negative details as it is all about focusing on positive outcomes. Instead, I am going to share how I used my signature strengths of bravery, kindness, curiosity, social intelligence, and perspective to change the big boss’s mind, get the job and thrive in my former position! First thing first, feel your pain and all of your negative emotions. Allow it to flow through you. I felt all kinds of emotions, and I probably cried my eyeballs out for a couple of days. Then my mind was clear, and I shifted my FOCUS to what was STRONG in me, not WRONG.
I used my BRAVERY to email the big boss and ask for a meeting to better understand his decision. I came from a place of genuine CURIOSITY and without judgment.
I reflected on my past experiences. I used PERSPECTIVE to know that my life is much bigger than this rejection. I knew I was so much more than what other people perceive on the outside.
I used my KINDNESS to engage with the big boss from a place of empathy and understanding. I did not hold any grudges against him, nor did I judge him. He had his reasons based on his belief systems and what he knew to be true. I also knew that deep down, he was a man of integrity and would end up doing what’s right. And he did.
A few weeks after defending my position and explaining to him why I believed I was the best person for the job and how I was going to help him with his organizational objectives, I was appointed to the position.
Don’t let your emotions determine your future
I wish more schools and parents would teach their children how to leverage emotional intelligence at a very young age. To help them channel their emotions and give them vocabulary that will help boost their personal power. Emotions are healthy, and they are here to guide us when we learn to feel them, let go and flip our script. To use words of empowerment and optimism that focus on what’s STRONG within us.
I hope you feel inspired and will discover your signature strengths so you can live a life above your potential!
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