Last week, I went to Yale University to take a two-day course on social and emotional intelligence at their specialized center of the same name. It was an incredible training that mixed lecture, improv, small group work and discussion, and taught us how to identify and reframe our emotions by taking a “meta-moment” (more on that… in a moment)
On the following Wednesday I had to take a series of planes, trains, and automobiles to get to my next destination. For starters, my Uber driver couldn’t find us, could barely communicate with us in intelligible English, and was a horribly slow driver. The airport was a hot mess of a confusing maze. And the people at Smashburger almost made me miss my flight. I wanted to throw my burger at the cashier and let out a banshee-yell.
What’s an emotionally intelligent brotha to do?
I had to take a meta moment: Identify your emotion while you’re going through it. Stop, take a moment. What am I feeling? How do I see my best self? How do I want to feel right now? How can I renegotiate my emotional state to move in the direction of how I want to feel?
I went from pissed to empathetic and ready to face the rest of my work, my day and the people I had to deal with, with grace.
Lashing out at your spouse, violence, drinking to numb the pain, throwing your burger at a Smashburger employee—these can be temporary reliefs, but they are shortcuts and have no long lasting effect on helping you become your best self. And they are detrimental to your longterm health and happiness.
You are not your emotions. You are the sum total of the decisions you make based on how you choose to act because of the state of how you feel or how you let your emotions drive you.