A couple of weeks ago we had a blog about empathy and emotional intelligence where I suggested that we translate the actions of others into sentences about what they might be feeling and needing. This could not only help us understand others who differ from us politically, but might also nurture us because we diminish the negative energy of blame and judgment. As we open our hearts to others, we connect to our common animality with all of life.
Opening our hearts to others though is not an easy practice. It causes us to feel, and often this means having uncomfortable sensations. Connecting to life is not about feeling comfortable, it’s about feeling everything. Being present to life, then, means we need to nurture ourselves as much as possible so that we process with choice the emotions that arise in us and others. We can nurture ourselves by growing our own emotional intelligence.
Let’s continue our practice emphasizing with current events. What has happened around you that you find challenging to either open to, or in reflecting on it, seems to sap your energy and presence? Sit quietly for a minute and then consider what you are feeling and what are your needs. Then insert these feeling and need words into this sentence:
No wonder I am feeling_______________, I am needing________________.
This practice helps with self connection, empathy, and understanding, and also helps us connect to others (humans and other species).
The current event I'm focusing on right now is the gassing of civilians (well, anyone and any species really) in Syria. My nurturing practice would be to write (or say to myself or share with another):
No wonder I am feeling angry and frustrated, I long for the well-being of others.
My feelings about this situation are anger and frustration, and the universal need I seek is that of well-being, for others and also for myself. I also seek the needs of contribution (to the people of Syria) and connection. This need of connection is a met need, for the people of Syria seem closer to my life now because I have taken some time to slow down and consider them. This practice reaffirms in me the value and beauty of human life, and how important the well-being of others is to me. Connecting to that understanding connects me to life and brings clarity. Maybe I am not sure of what to do next, or why the gassing happened in the first place, but I am sure that I want to stay on the path of compassion and working towards the flourishing of all.
This emotional intelligence practice is a spiritual practice, because it promotes connection to others and a lightening of emphasis on our own daily concerns as we see how we are connected to the many others. It is also a practice that can take less than a minute a day, although for lasting and deep impacts, I suggest doing this as much as you can throughout the day.
Translating everything into feelings and needs connects us to self, others, and to life.
Feelings and needs are the seeds to compassionate deeds.
If you'd like to know more about how emotional and social intelligence can help you react positively to the needs of our communities, please join us for our free upcoming webinar next week, "Nurturing Our Resistance, Resilience, and Solidarity in a Time of Peril." For more information and to sign up, go here.