Self-management is your ability to act or not act
It is entirely dependent on your self-awareness and it is the ability to use your awareness to stay flexible and direct your behaviour positively. Some emotions create such paralysing fear or cloudy thinking that no reaction seems clear. Self-management is so much more than resisting explosive or problematic behaviour. The biggest challenge people usually face is managing their habits and automatic thought patterns over time.
Your feelings and your reactions to them are not the same. If you are furious it does not mean you have to slam the door.
Three strategies to improve self-management
Create an emotion versus reason list – We may not always realise it but there are many times we allow our emotions to sway us and behave in a certain way. Whenever you are not certain of a course of action to take, draw a straight line down the middle of the page and make two columns. In the left hand column write what your emotional brain is telling you to do and in the right hand column what your thinking brain is telling you to do. Now ask yourself two important questions: where are your emotions clouding your judgement and where is your reason ignoring important cues from your emotions? Decide which action(s) would be of most benefit to you.
Take control of your self-talk – Research shows people have around 50,000 thoughts a day, each of which triggers reactions in your body. There is a strong relationship between what you think and how you feel. It is impossible to try and track every thought to see whether it is having a positive or negative influence on your emotional state. Our internal voice is “talking” to us every day. Try turning statements such as “I always” or “I never” into “just this time” or “sometimes”. Your actions are unique to the situation in front of you, no matter how often you think you are getting it wrong. Replace judgmental statements like “I’m an idiot” with factual ones like “I made a mistake”. Thoughts that attach permanent labels to you leave no room for improvement. The blame game and negative self-talk go hand in hand. If you think it’s either “my fault” or “their fault”, you are wrong most of the time.
Focus your attention on your freedoms and not your limitations – “Life isn’t fair”, “There’s nothing you can do about it” or “It isn’t up to you” are some of the mantras our parents can drum into our heads. But what we forget is that we always have a choice in how to respond to what is in front of you. Even when you can’t say or do anything to change a difficult situation, you can always have a say in your perspective of what’s happening (which ultimately influences your feelings about it). Take a closer look at how you are reacting to the situation itself. Focus your energy on remaining flexible and open-minded in spite of a difficult situation.
Self-management an Emotional Intelligence imperative
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