Like riding a bike, fixing a computer, becoming a great runner? You may have many talents and abilities, such as managing academic facts, or details about your areas of passion. However, it may be more of a challenge to deal with learning from and managing your personal emotional states.
In this article, I am going to share some social solutions for staying emotionally strong and resilient, adapted from Dr. Lovett's book, Solutions for Adults With Asperger's Syndrome.
1. Decide it is important to understand and manage your emotions. It's just like lifting weights or getting in physical shape for a sport: if you don't commit the time and effort needed, it just won't happen!
In case you are wondering whether it's worth it to learn emotional mastery, here are a couple of quotes:
"Interpersonal communication and other so-called soft skills are what corporate recruiters crave most but find most elusive in M.B.A. graduates," says the WSJ. "The major business schools produce graduates with analytical horsepower and solid command of the basics -- finance, marketing and strategy. But soft skills such as communication, leadership and a team mentality sometimes receive cursory treatment." -- Wall Street Journal
"Comparing the three domains, I found that for jobs of all kinds, emotional competencies were twice as prevalent among distinguishing competencies as were technical skills and purely cognitive abilities combined. In general the higher a position in an organization, the more EI mattered: for individuals in leadership positions, 85 percent of their competencies were in the EI domain." -- Daniel Goleman
2. Find someone you respect--someone whom you feel handles emotions well--and use that person as a role model. People on the autism spectrum can be very good at imitating and acting. Work on this as if you working on being an actor in a play, and hopefully it will begin coming more easily to you, like learning another language.
3. Find a feelings chart! One of the struggles that I used to have in terms of becoming more emotionally flexible and 'people smart' was even being able to identify what I was feeling, as opposed to 'good' or 'bad.' By developing a wide variety of labels for your emotions, you will be more sophisticated on feeling in control of your emotions, instead of vice versa. I would suggest doing an internet search for 'feelings chart,' and seeing what you come up with.
Once you get the feelings chart, study the different expressions. Take time at different times during the day to stop and ask yourself what you are feeling in terms of your emotions. Ask people who are emotional role models to identify how they are feeling, so that you can hear how they are identifying, labeling, and processing their emotions.
4. Look around you at what is going on. Pay attention to try to see if there is a link between the situation and what you are feeling. For example, a very obvious example would be if you are driving along, and someone swerves and almost hits your car. You find yourself feeling flushed, heart pumping, hands clenched on the steering wheel: and you're scared and angry.
5. Keep a thoughts and feelings journal. One of the best books I have found in terms of linking how you think with how you feel is the Thoughts and Feelings Workbook, by McKay, Fanning and Davis. I highly recommend that you get and study this workbook.
6. It may help to have a friend or family member that you can talk to when you are upset. Sometimes, it may be helpful to give yourself time alone, or to walk off the steam when you are upset. Remember, staying emotionally strong is a journey of a lifetime. Just do a little bit each day, and you will grow stronger daily in this area.
photo credit: RightIndex
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