1. Change the cause of emotion. Fix the thoughts, fix the emotions. Circumstances do not cause emotions – rather, your thoughts and attitudes about those circumstances do. the only exception is when emotion is driven by a physical chemical imbalance in the brain, which can be identified and treated effectively with medication.
2. Realize that thought is not the same as logic. Logic is a system for reasoning, and reasoning is what you do with your thoughts. You may be brilliant at handling your thoughts, but what thoughts are you handling? Even if your thoughts are accurate, processing a dozen facts about a situation may well lead to error if you are unaware that an additional 99 facts are relevant.
3. Recognize that you have the right to have whatever feelings—and any emotion—you want to have. But you also have the right (and responsibility) to select and use thoughts that benefit and enrich your life, and those around you.
4. Re-think your attitudes about your circumstances—change your thoughts—and you will significantly change your feelings and emotions (at least enough to positively affect your daily life).
5. Increase your awareness of and look out for moments when you feel an irrational thought or attitude coming on. Recognize and identify that emotion, then ask yourself, “Where’s the proof in that?"or “What evidence do I have that validates this feeling?" Then use all of the knowledge, tools, and evidence at your disposal, and your best judgment to behave appropriately – to do otherwise cheats you.
6. Choose the right time and the right place to express your emotion. Controlling your emotions doesn't mean ignoring them. It means you recognize them and act on them when you deem it appropriate, not randomly and uncontrollably.
• Learn to recognize and anticipate "triggers" that set you off on an irrational thought path. Often simple awareness of these triggers gives us enough time to avoid or handle them.
• Watch for "all or nothing" thinking. Most of life is a gradient or gray scale, rather than a set of absolutes or extremes. Many situations and events may seem as if they are black/white, good/bad, yes/no; but reacting as if they are can easily lead to irrational and unhelpful attitudes, emotions, and behaviors.
This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Emotional Intelligence. The Official Guide to Emotional Intelligence is Reldan S. Nadler, Psy.D. Dr. Nadler, educated as a clinical psychologist, has become a world-class executive coach, corporate trainer and author. He is the president and CEO True North Leadership, Inc. an Executive and Organizational Development firm. Dr. Nadler brings his expertise in Emotional Intelligence to all his keynotes, consulting, coaching and training. A licensed psychologist and Master Executive Coach, Dr. Nadler has been working for more than 30 years with top executives and their teams to become “star performers.” He is the author of two best-selling leadership and team performance books, and is a sought-after speaker and consultant on leadership, emotional intelligence, teambuilding, executive coaching, and experiential learning.
Additional Resources covering Emotional Intelligence can be found at: