You have one primary job in the world: to manage yourself. If you take care of others, then you have a secondary job as well. If you cannot manage yourself even when you finally become an adult, don’t despair. You can learn. I have many clients who’ve made tremendous strides in self-care in a year or two of therapy. Sound like a long time? Not as long as spending the rest of your life lacking the knowledge for self-management.
Self-management, according to Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman who write a syndicated parenting column, involves people learning “how to understand their emotions, contemplate their choices and then make proactive decisions rather than reactive or impulsive ones.” (“Helping kids develop self-management skills, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 11/12/18, B2) Wouldn’t being able to do that go a long way toward helping you eat better?
According to Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, authors of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” “self-management is one of the hallmarks of emotional intelligence (EQ).” A number of studies show that EQ is critical to success in the working world. Being in charge of yourself happens when you can embrace and recognize your emotions and appropriately use them to generate behavior. We can do this only when we experience an emotion, then take a breath to pause and consider what it is and what to do with it. This pause enables us to briefly assess possible thoughts and behaviors.
Sometimes a breath or two will do it, but often we need more time and distance, to step away from a situation that has triggered feelings within us. Sometimes we need to be alone with what we’re experiencing. Other times we’ll want to share it with trusted others who’ll help us explore and evaluate what we’re going through in order to make decisions that are in our best interest. To get appropriate help, it’s vital that we have people around us with a high EQ, which includes being: a great listener and having empathy for what we’re going through, able to tolerate strong feelings—ours as we present them and any intense emotional reactions they may have to them, honest with themselves and us in order to give us appropriate feedback, and able to express themselves in a manner which seems logical, calming and helpful to us. They also need to know when they’ve said enough and live with the fact that we may not do as they say.
By choosing intimates who manage themselves well, we learn to do it better. As we improve, we can help them as they’ve helped us. Remember, we’re all works in progress. Set a goal to learn to management yourself better and start moving toward it.