Editors Note; This article on Emotional Intelligence is very timely and can help you or people you know on how to cope with the Pandemic.
Humans naturally do not like uncertainty, especially if we have always been living in a pretty predictable environment. Unfortunately, that’s not where we are today in the middle of a global crisis and pandemic with Covid-19. The fear that we are experiencing is not only fear of being infected, but I believe many are affected financially with some experiencing pay cut, loss of income and changes in the way we do things.
Uncertainty creates fear, panic, worries, anxiety and all kinds of emotions. The question is how do we deal with it?
In my 16 years of being self employed, uncertainty has become part of life and will always be. No matter how fantastic our business ideas, strategies and plan, there is absolutely 0 guarantee that whatever we do will yield the exact results that we predicted.
I have been through so many cycles of uncertainty that I have trained my mind and emotions to be prepared for it.
Here are some things that I did that has helped me during those times and I hope it will be helpful for you during this time, especially if this is your 1st time facing such scenario or you probably have just launched your business.
Being aware and acknowledging how I feel. When I am scared, acknowledge that I am scared. Even when I go into panic mode, I can quickly realise that I am in a panic mode. There is no prize or benefit in pretending your emotions do not exist. And it’s ok to feel these emotions. It’s ok if you are the head of the family having people depending on you and you are now feeling scared. It doesn’t make us irresponsible or incompetent.
Awareness is the 1st step, but what is important is how we deal with it. In EQ, this the Enhance Emotional Literacy and awareness competency.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE PATTERN RECOGNITION
Knowing what triggers me to experience those emotions. What are my panic buttons? What makes me feel worse? Reading the bad news everyday? Over analyzing the information and making my own prediction ? Asking too many ‘what if’ questions? For me over analyzing can just make me lose focus on what I need to do know. At times like this, I do read the news to know the development, but just enough for me to know what do I need to do and why I need to do them.
For example social distancing so that we can flatten the curve. What is the government’s order on lock down rules etc. This is not the time for me to find all the conspiracy theory available and start analyzing who’s the culprit. In EQ, this is the Recognising Pattern competency.
Editor’s note : We should realise that Emotions come from the heart and interestingly, heart in Arabic is called Qal. The literal meaning of Qalb is something that constantly twists and turns. So whatever emotion you are feeling, it does not last forever, it is temporary. Making a split decision based on how you feel is unwise.
NAVIGATING YOUR EMOTIONS
Upon acknowledging my emotions, I need to pause and start looking at what are the options that I have that I can start taking action. What is my priority? What do I need to do 1st? By pausing and looking at options, I prevent myself from getting into the panic and reactive state ( read toilet roll panic buying ). In EQ this is the Navigating Emotions competency.
APPLY CONSEQUENTIAL THINKING
Ok, so I am now worried about my cash flow that has come to a stand still. Even though the Movement Control Order in my country at this time is only 14 days, no one knows what the situation will be after the 14 days. In my home together with my 2 girls, we are on cost cutting on whatever and wherever we can. We started calculating our emergency funds and we discussed what we can do to stay afloat wisely during this time. In whatever action that we choose to take, we need to think of the consequences. In EQ, this is the Consequential Thinking competency.
DRAW YOUR INTRINSIC MOTIVATION
What helps me in being able to pause and applying the consequential thinking is by asking myself what drives me. As a single mother to 2 grown up daughters, I have always wanted to ensure that they do not have to go through the hardship that I had to go through. I don’t have mountains of assets to leave them with, but I only have some wisdom and practical way of thinking that I can equip them with.
One of my daughters panicked and asked “Mom what if one of us gets the virus?” and I replied with, “this is where we need to take the extra precaution and not take things for granted” and that calmed her down. This is one of my Intrinsic Motivation i.e. to be a role model for my 2 daughters so that they are strong and equipped to face challenges in their lives. In EQ, Intrinsic Motivation is one of the competencies that helps one develop higher EQ.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE & GRATITUDE
I learned optimism through gratitude journal writing exercises that I learned 14 years ago. It’s not exactly positive thinking or trying to fake things up, but purely training my mind to see what are the things that I can be grateful for all the time including during adversity. It is so easy to be grateful when things are great, but how do we stay grateful during adversity? The answer is a matter of perspective. There was a time that my gratitude list look like this :
1. I woke up in the morning and I am still alive.
2. I am grateful that I am still breathing and oxygen is free.
3. I am grateful that I have something to eat for breakfast.
I would list out at least 10 everyday. Optimism is also the effort that we need to put in to find opportunity , in every challenge that we are facing. It helps to bounce ideas with friends who are on the same page ie looking for opportunities.
Another way to seek optimism is to change from a pessimistic perspective ie PPP – Permanent, Pervasive and Powerless to to TIE – Temporary , Isolated & Effort . For example in the case of Covid 19, instead of seeing this event as it’s the end of the world and we are permanently doomed, read up all the good news on vaccine discovery and no of people who have recovered. China has managed to close down the hospitals that were used to treat patients.
With this good news, we know that there is hope for recovery and whatever that we are facing now is temporary. Temporary lock down and temporary Movement Control Order.
Lastly, instead of feeling powerless , focus on things that you can do at this time. Don’t feel powerless just because you have to cancel a long scheduled family holiday to your favourite destination. Instead choose to take effort and do something about it. Negotiate with the airline and hotels for postponement without penalty. Focus your effort on what you can do now instead of what you cannot do.
Editor’s note: Gratitude has more power than we could ever imagine. Let me demonstrate, I once interviewed 2 Guantanamo Bay detainees. I was curious how they cope with the inhumane treatment; with waterboarding, psychocological torture and constant assault on their dignity. Both of them gave the same answer but in their own words. They use gratitude as their coping mechanism. Guess what both of them have been released. Since then there are countless empirical studies about the positive effects of gratitude.
Empathy refers to our ability to feel what other people are feeling and to understand their behaviours from these feelings as well. It’s time to have empathy towards the unfortunate souls who are infected, the medical front liners who are putting their best effort to manage the rise in number of patients, the family of the medical front liners involved in the mission and there are other people who rely on daily wages who are definitely affected by this. Also have empathy towards the senior citizens who are also in need of food supplies, so that we don’t need to hog and clear the shelves in the supermarket out of panic.
PURSUE YOUR NOBLE GOAL
I truly believe everyone has a noble goal whether they realize it or not. Noble goal is our bigger goal that goes beyond ourselves. It is our sense of purpose. For me I know at the end of the day, I know my purpose is to spread joy to others. I love making other people happy and creating results in their lives. No matter how challenging my situation is, I will always find ways to fulfill my purpose, And it is not always about money, but it can be time, messages, and other small acts that can make a difference. By pursuing noble goals, I found that the challenges that I am facing become small and manageable as I start to focus out.
Reflect on these components , one thing at a time. Stay calm and breathe.