Emotional Intelligence guide

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Intro

As clicking is an emotional process, training yourself to become more skilled at noticing and working with your emotions is something that will always help. No matter which step you are stuck on, understanding your personal emotional dynamics will often enable you to get past obstacles. This skill is also fundamental on step 4, as your emotions don’t disappear after you click.  Even if you are already quite knowledgeable about yourself on a rational level, the extent to which you can refine your emotional self-awareness will be the deciding factor to conclude this paradigm shift. This is especially true if you have been trying to click for a while.

If you feel like you are stuck, figuring out the obstacles that are holding you back is the best thing you can do in this situation. You should always keep in mind that there is a reason why you haven’t clicked, and it is usually a quite small obstacle. In most cases, trying the same thing over and over without a clear direction won’t get you anywhere, and a lot of people have learned this notion the hard way.

Since many of these obstacles are personal to you, it’s important that you have the ability to help yourself. Talking to other people on discord and reading the subreddit can certainly help, but is useless if you don’t think for yourself.

Applying the advice given here will help you become better at recognizing and working with emotions and emotional frameworks.  Still, merely reading this guide won’t make you click. It is merely an (important) tool for you to analyze and take control of your situation.

For who?

Many people, especially guys, grow up being told that showing emotions is bad or not cool. The environment might reinforce this from a very young age with things like “guys shouldn’t cry, be a man” or “don’t be such a pussy”. Many of these kids build up a strong habit of pushing away (suppressing) emotions whenever they come up. When these people grow older, they might believe that they don’t experience the emotions and their decisions are purely rational. This happens when the habit of suppressing is so deeply ingrained that it becomes natural and completely outside of their awareness.

If you are in a similar situation, you will probably have a harder time making the click, as the entire process is an emotional one. Many people might read the 4 steps and misunderstand what is meant, because you are thinking about things rationally rather than emotionally. However, even if you have been pushing away your emotion for your entire life, given some time and dedication, you can figure yourself out and make the click quite easily.

Support for learning (and clicking)

The following tips will help you in your journey to understanding yourself. Even though these habits might feel like a chore, you should frame it as an opportunity to see how you react emotionally, without giving in to the temptations.

In order of importance:

  • Daily rhythmic breathing (2’) and mindfulness meditation (10-15’)

o  This is the big one. If you want to click, it is very helpful to be able to go into a meditative state where you merely observe the emotions and thoughts that come up, without judging or labeling them. You can check rhythmic breathing here.

  • Healthy eating (decreasing refined sugar, increasing fruits & veggies), exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule

o  These are very useful to reduce the noise in your head, which will help in noticing subtler emotional dynamics.

  • Taking notes

o  Will help immensely in noticing whether you are making progress or just running in circles. Writing insights down is also important, as reading your own notes will help get a more objective look on things.

The right mindset

Neuroscience tells us that we experience emotions even before we become aware of them. Since we can’t (successfully) stop these emotions from coming up, it makes little sense to beat ourselves up over them.

Dealing with emotions in the most effective way requires a specific approach that is quite similar to what is taught in meditation. In the meditative state of mind, you become an observer of your own mind. This self-awareness is like taking a step back, to get a better perspective. Taking distance from the stream of thoughts is a very important skill to make the click and this will become clear later on.

Be aware that no matter how hard you try, random things will still appear into your mind. You should simply acknowledge the thought/emotion, accept that is it part of you, and then let it go again. Trying to prevent thoughts from popping up is futile as it will only result in more thinking. If you do notice yourself trying to push away thoughts, there is no need to beat yourself up over it.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of “thinking about not thinking”, as almost all beginners have this at one point or another.

This state of mind is easiest to train using guided meditation. Don’t worry, you don’t need to sit in uncomfortable positions, nor believe in any mystical things. You can check guided meditations specially tailored to the click and one that can help you training your emotional awareness.

Once you understand the basics, you can begin using this mindset in everyday life. Observe yourself while you are working, during casual conversations, while eating, commuting to work, etc. Training this state of mind daily will help tremendously in applying the insights described below.

It's also important to consider how you frame the whole process of clicking. If you just “want to click” because it’s a cool thing to do or because it gives you something you want, you have much lower chances of making it. There must be a genuine desire to figure yourself out emotionally and you need to really believe that your current core value is doing you more harm than good.

Furthermore, you should check yourself for expectations that might be hindering your progress. Try to foster a mindset where you see everything as a new opportunity, without taking your past as a burden.

Accepting emotions

Neuroscience has shown that humans are fundamentally emotional beings. A large part of our brain is dedicated to regulate our emotions. These emotions are the driving factor behind what you do in everyday life, including the things you like and dislike.

Since our emotions are in control on the deepest level, it’s important that you first fully grasp that your rational part is not making the decisions. The emotional core uses the thinking part of the brain to get what it wants. Even though you might feel a lot of control, any time your emotional core goes against your reason, the emotions will win.

If you think you don’t experience many emotions, it’s very likely that you are pushing them away so you don’t feel them. The same thing applies with memories that were emotional before but seem dull now.

Some examples of methods people use to avoid feeling their emotions:

  • Pretending something hasn’t happened
  • Overeating & eating foods loaded with sugar and fat
  • Seeking entertainment whenever you feel bad (TV, YouTube, Facebook, games, …)
  • (Excessive) use of alcohol/other drugs
  • Always keeping busy so you can’t feel (even productive things!)

You should start your journey by being very honest to yourself on these topics. Permit yourself to have these feelings, it’s OK for even the toughest guy in the world to have feelings. You don’t have to beat yourself up because of your past. You can start fresh as soon as you commit to changing yourself.

It is important that you fully accept your emotions as they come before anything else. You must FEEL that it’s ok to have feelings. You should FEEL that you can be honest to yourself. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you expect other people to be honest with you? Take some time to reflect on how this applies to you before moving on.

Be careful though, accepting your emotions is not the same as blindly giving in to any impulsive desire that comes up. You should simply see the emotion, acknowledge and accept its presence, and then decide the best course of action. Although acknowledging and accepting might seem like a trivial step, it is essential if you want to leverage your emotions effectively.

Recognizing emotions

Once you’ve fully accepted your emotional part, it’s time to start spotting/recognizing it. The steps below are sorted to create a smooth learning curve. Don’t rush the process by skipping steps, this will only slow down your progress and make things harder.

For starters, you should try to identify the strongest emotion you experience in everyday life. The stronger the emotion, the easier it is to examine, as you won’t be able to fully suppress it.

Examples of easily recognizable emotions are:

  • stress from work or studying;
  • craving for comfort food;
  • anger towards certain things of the past;
  • cravings for entertainment, etc.

If you lead a very comfortable life and no strong emotions are ever present, you can try to induce them yourself.

Example: you could stop eating comfort food, go on a calorie-restricting diet, while also exercising harder (please use common sense and do this responsibly).

Within a few hours to days, you will undeniably feel hungry and tired. You can use these strong emotions as your object of study, even if they are quite far from the click.

Once you clearly have the emotion in your awareness, take the time to deeply examine yourself. Determine where you feel it, in your stomach, chest, throat. Maybe the feeling is stronger in some areas, try to become aware of that. Investigate how the sensations feel. Maybe it’s a slight burning sensation, maybe a stabbing/crushing feeling or maybe it’s a pleasant tingle. You can also observe how your overall state of mind changes, try to zoom out so you see the bigger picture. Maybe your mind becomes fuzzy or more random things pop into your head.

You should build up a detailed description of your experience in your mind, as if you were a scientist studying a new phenomenon. This meditative state of mind will promote the ability to get a more objective look on things. Writing down your experience will also help immensely, as reviewing afterwards allows you to gain a deeper understanding and build upon the progress you’ve already made.

Even though this might be unexplored terrain for you, it’s important that you keep trying even if things don’t work out on the first try. Only repetition will tell whether or not your approach is the right one.

Be careful not to drift off into the language part of your brain as you try to build up a picture. We are trying to connect to the emotional parts and mental chatter is simply a distraction. It’s also important to recognize the distractions and deal with it in a calm manner, in a meditative state. Then you can (gently) bring you attention back to the emotion and continue.

As you get better, you can start exploring subtler emotions. For example, during a conversation someone might use words that you find slightly offensive or the person might be slightly boring. Whatever it is, you use the moment as an opportunity to dig deeper into yourself. It will often seem as if a whole new world opened. So many things that were ordinary before suddenly became interesting.

If you carry over this habit into your everyday life, you can connect to your emotions very quickly. It’s important that you view this as a learning process and that you try to figure things out, one step at a time.

“Riding the wave”

If you are quite disconnected from your emotions, it is tempting to just feel the (strong) emotion for a split second and then push it away again. Because you have the feeling in your memory, you can be tricked into believing you’re still experiencing it when you’re actually not.

If you pin down the emotion and keep feeling it for a longer time, the experience can change. It can be compared to a surfing. A surfer rides a wave by constantly changing direction so he stays on top. The moment he goes against the wave, he sinks. The same should happen with your awareness and the emotion that is present. Your awareness should rest on the emotion for as long as it lasts, no matter where the feeling tries to move or hide.

In the beginning this can be very daunting and you might feel like the emotions are too strong to ever face (especially fears). However, when you approach things with the right mindset and give it some times, you will build up the ability to face almost any emotion present (barring some extreme trauma’s). Once you have fully faced an emotion for the first time, it’s common to experience quite some relief afterwards. You can use this as an opportunity to strengthen your trust in logic.

Drilling to the core

If you are not so closely in touch with your emotions, you might believe you have already reached your emotional core (step 2) when you understand your core value rationally. This is not enough though, you also need to connect emotionally. If you attempt step 3 without connecting to the core, you can feel heavy dissonance for weeks on end without making much progress. Below are some tips on how to reach your core.

Once you can connect to the subtler emotions, you can start focusing on the emotional framework you build around situations. The reason you might feel good while doing something irresponsible is because you create physical or mental environments where you are comfortable. You create a story to explain and understand what you are doing, even if it goes against reality.

Consider the following example:

“I went to chill with my friends on Sunday because I was really stressed and I want to maintain the relationship. Plus, in order to click, I have to be in a clear state of mind which is not possible when I’m stressed.”

Although this story is plausible, much of the story is probably a lie so you can feel good about your impulsive decisions. A more realistic version would be:

“I was feeling depressed and a friend messaged me, asking to go out. In an impulsive moment, I said I would join and offered to drive. After sending my message, I could see that it was a bad idea to go out tonight as I have to get up early tomorrow for work. I should make up an excuse so I don’t have to go or tell my friend the truth. I know there is clearly better ways of relaxing than going out and getting drunk.”

This is a very simple example, and you might deny doing this in your own life. If this is the case and you really can’t find anything where you are even slightly dishonest to yourself, you should talk to a good friend or relative and ask them to be bluntly honest. Explain some things you do in everyday life and ask them if they see holes in your explanation. Often times, they will easily spot the grey areas you are abusing, as long as it doesn’t go against their own story.

Another example:

You keep telling yourself “comfort is bad”, “comfort hurts me” etc. but you don’t feel any dissonance on matter how hard you try. Your inner child (emotions) might see it like this “I say these nasty things, but they don’t really apply to me. I’m saying these things because I want to click because it will make me feel better.”

In this scenario, you don’t fully believe what you are telling yourself, you are lying to yourself.

You will have layers that are specific to you, so it’s important to have an open mind and be on the lookout for things that feel slightly off. There are usually clues when you are lying to yourself. You can run some “experiments” in your mind to learn more.

I noticed in myself that thinking about the click felt slightly different than thinking about everyday stuff. The way I overcame the barrier was by mentally denying/rejecting it. It was as if the inner child wanted to put my thoughts in a box, far away from the core, and I denied it by pushing it aside.

When you believe you’ve found something, it’s important to really dig deep and try to get through it for quite some time. The first time you try to remove a layer, it won’t come off. You will only see a change after many tries.

Once you remove all the layers, you should have quick and easy access to your core. For most people, their core will express itself as a very strong feeling of weakness. You might spontaneously start crying, feel your face cringe or feel like curling up into a ball. Responses might differ from person to person, but the emotional core is a very primal thing so you should expect primal emotions.

If you get to the core, you can start causing dissonance by visualizing. You put comfort in a negative visual, logic in a positive one, and you go back and forth between both (switching every 2mins)

Some tricks you can consider to overcome resistance:

  • Eating less (comfort food);
  • Exhaustion (physical and/or mental);
  • Denying rewarding things (e.g. huge meals, validation, gaming, smoking & other drugs).