Once Upon a Time … How to Facilitate Change in OthersWritten by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant
Once upon a time … all stories began that way. At least around my house. “Tell me a story,” I would beg my mother, or my grandmother, and they would sit back, with a twinkle in their eye, often pulling me into their lap, and begin … “Once upon a time.” [sigh]
Key to experience, there was no eye contact. I sat beside them, or on their lap, or they were lying down beside me at bedtime, or driving car. It wasn’t an in-your-face experience. This is part of it. Part of what? Let me tell you a story first, and then I’ll tell you about telling stories.
So settle back, close your eyes, and let’s begin …
Once upon a time there was a wise and powerful king who had two vassals. One, Sir Rodrick, was known for being stingy and mean. The king sent him out on a task. He was to travel kingdom and find one good person.
Sir Rodrick returned after many days saying in all kingdom he hadn’t been able to find one good person. He said he had found some who did some things that appeared to be good, but it was an illusion, and underneath they were all selfish and wicked. As to a truly good person, there were none.
Next, king sent Sir Roland out on a mission. Sir Roland was known for his generosity and love for his people. His task was to travel kingdom and find one bad person.
Sir Roland failed as well. He returned many days later saying in all kingdom he had not been able to find one bad person. He had found some who inadvertently went astray, temporarily, but underneath they were all good and kind. As to a truly bad person, there were none.
AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS …
What do I have to say about this story? Not a thing. Anything I say would damage it for you. It speaks for itself, and it speaks to you in its own way, and that’s way good stories are. The ones that begin with “once upon a time…”
MYTH, METAPHOR & MAGIC
In a fascinating article called “Myth, Metaphor and Magic,” Patrice Guillaume explores power of Three Ms as related to functions of left and right brain. Our left hemisphere is analytical, logical and linear; it sees trees and not forest. Our right hemisphere is highly specialized to manage complex relationships, patterns, configurations and structures; it cannot see trees for forest. The two hemispheres function well together, and not so well alone.
Here’s how different they are. In research with individuals who’ve lost function of one hemisphere or other, it’s been discovered that when told to “match’ a picture of a cake, left hemisphere will match it functionally – choosing a spoon or a fork. The right hemisphere will match it according to appearance – choosing something with same shape, such as a hat.
SPLIT BRAIN RESEARCH
In their book “Left Brain Right Brain,” Michael Gazzaniga and Joseph LeDoux draw conclusion that major task of left hemisphere (our “verbal self”) is to construct a reality based on our actual behavior. The left brain doesn’t always know why we’re doing something. “It is as if verbal self looks out and sees what person is doing, and from that knowledge it interprets a reality.”
So, somewhat simplified, you could say our behaviors originate in right brain, while our left brain is left to justify our actions. I’m sure you know feeling of trying to explain something you did, when you really haven’t a clue!
Now, follow this line of reasoning: IF our behavior originates in right brain (and is only explained intellectually in left);
AND we want to change someone’s behavior (as a parent, coach or therapist, for instance) or change our own;
THEN why not save our selves some trouble and talk to right brain, not left brain.
Makes perfect sense. But … if right brain doesn’t use words, how do we communicate with it? The answer is …
Analogic communication includes figurative language, puns, jokes, metaphor, poetry, art, music, ambiguities and allusions as well as non-verbal communication, such as posture, gestures, facial expressions, voice inflection, tone of voice, and sequence, rhythm and cadence of words themselves.
It’s descriptive, stuff of myth, metaphor, dreams and “once upon a time” type stories.
In a way that’s hard to explain, because “explaining” is what left brain does, information take into right hemispheres has far more effect on behavior. It’s way to “reach” someone, to “touch” them. Intuitively we know this.
Along with this is NOT-IN-YOUR-FACE experience. When we get in someone’s face – literally and figuratively – guard of Other goes up. Down comes reflector shield, and up come defenses. We turn off and tune out. When a story is delivered, without intimidation of eye contact, effect is different.
DOES IT WORK?
Want someone to get up and help you clean house? Try playing a march by John Philip Sousa. Go here: http://www.laurasmidiheaven.com/Patriotic.shtml and play “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Oh yes! (My son and I used to clean house to this when he was a preschooler. Not a problem.)
Ways to Increase Your Personal Power through Emotional IntelligenceWritten by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant
Personal Power is an Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competency you’re probably familiar with by another name. It’s your sense of being able to handle yourself and your life. It’s opposite of “victim” position, where you feel helpless and hopeless. Instead, when you’ve developed your Personal Power, you feel confidant to help yourself, and to ask for help when you need it, and you feel positive about outcomes. You are more willing to take action, and to use solution-focused problem-solving, instead of emotion-focused problem-solving.
You may have thought when you read title of this article, it was referring to your power in external world and it is, but this comes only when you have Personal Power within. You create your world by your thoughts and beliefs, and if you feel helpless and hopeless, you’ll create these outcomes. When you have a quiet sense of Personal Power, you are able to accomplish more, and will come to say, “If I couldn’t do it, nobody could’ve.”
So how do you develop your Personal Power? You can’t function fully until you know yourself, and to know your SELF is to know your FEELINGS. We are our emotions and they are there to guide us.
People in victim position don’t know what they think or feel, and feel they have no rights. Assertiveness is believing in rights – yours and others. It means treating others with respect, and yourself as well. The cornerstone of Emotional Intelligence is self-awareness, and you begin this by doing an EQ Checkin often during day. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually?”
I’ve found in teleclasses that most people can talk immediately about how they feel physically, but don’t know what “mentally,” “emotionally,” and/or “spiritually” mean, so I’ll define them so you can get started.
HOW DO YOU FEEL MENTALLY? This refers to your ability to think. Are you alert? Full of ideas? Sluggish? Unable to process? If I asked you to do a math problem, or generate some alternate solutions to a dilemma, how would you do? This is what “mental” is about – your ability to handle information, facts, draw conclusions, formulate a thought, solve a problem, and perform other thought processes.
HOW DO YOU FEEL EMOTIONALLY? Everyone takes a stab at this one, but there are two ways to weasel out. One is to say, “I feel like a wrung-out dishrag,” and other is to say, “I think I’m exhausted.” In first case, you’re begging out, and in second case, notice word “think” was used, which makes it a mental process. Sometimes we lack vocabulary, and emotional expression is part of Emotional Intelligence. How do you feel EMOTIONALLY? Here are some answers, and they begin with “I AM” – sad, angry, frustrated, enraged, discouraged, tired, overwhelmed, elated, optimistic, or resentful. Of course there are many others. One thing you can do to increase your Emotional Intelligence is to learn new words for feelings. Then apply them to your situation.
It’s very common to feel “angry,” when it contains many layers. It could be from frustration, fatigue, being too hot, having had too much caffeine, righteous indignation, and a range from “annoyed” to “enraged” or “ballistic.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL SPIRITUALLY? How you answer this depends upon your understanding of a higher power in your life. Some people answer this with “I don’t know.” Others will say, “I’m very attuned with nature today. I had a long walk with my dog,” while others will say, “I feel very connected to those around me. Very warm and loved.” You could also say, “Close to God” or “I feel good about life and myself.”
Most of us recognize a deeper level in our lives, be it through religion, spirituality, art, culture, music, poetry or nature. Being able to answer “How do you feel spiritually?” may take some work on your part, but then so may others.
Being able to answer these four questions gets you centered on yourself. If you’ve been lacking in Personal Power, chances are you may have been exercising too much empathy, or ignoring feelings of yourself and others, so you are not in touch with your feelings. You often don’t know what they are!