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Ways to Maintain Your Equilibrium in Time of War: Emotional Intelligence
by Susan Dunn, M.A., The EQ Coach

"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

War is disturbing. Regardless of which "side" you're on, people are killing, people are being killed, and people are suffering. A recent poll in New York showed 47% for the war, 49% against. This may be mirrored in your own environment. We are deeply divided, which means half the people you encounter won't be agreeing with you, and emotions are running high. You may also be ambivalent - divided against yourself. Here are some tips on managing emotions during this difficult time.

1. Acknowledge that this is beyond your control.

What you may be able to do as an individual is limited. You can't solve the problems of the world; no one ever has. It's not even clear who is "in control," and human error and frailty show their face constantly. The only thing under your control is how you think about things, how you respond, what you do and say.

2. Limit your exposure.

Keep up on the news, and know what's going on, but sitting in front of the t.v. constantly for a blow-by-blow description isn't necessary, or helpful. If it makes you miserable, don't do it. Distract yourself.

3. Find something you can do.

Do volunteer work, help someone who's having a hard time coping or has a loved one serving on the front, make sure your child feels safe and isn't exposed to the violence on t.v., or maintain a happy disposition at work. Light a candle somewhere, make things better for someone, some way, some how. This will make you feel less helpless.

4. Be grateful.

There are many things to be grateful for in your own life, and life in general, if you look that way instead of the other way. Focus on good things that are going on, and model this for others. Tulips coming up in your garden, an A on your child's report card, someone gets a promotion, a new baby is born ...

5. Find ways to self-soothe.

Draw upon your faith, get a massage, meditate, exercise, journal. Talk with a good listener, spend extra time with loved ones and in re-creational activities, maintain a healthy diet, stick to nurturing routines.

6. Remember you have a choice in discussions about the war.

You can decline to give an opinion or become engaged with someone with whom past discussions have not been helpful. You can express your opinion, knowing it's your opinion and others have different opinions. You can use your EQ skills to focus on the positive, and the similarities rather than the differences. Everyone with an opinion, for instance, thinks theirs will make the world better. End the discussion on a positive note. You can connect; you can't always convince, and do you need to? Value being in relationship, not in being right.

7. Stay away from catastrophizing in your conversations, and in your mind.

Words like "never" and "always" and "they" and "those people" are rarely true and usually not helpful. The truth is, we don't know what the outcome will be, and people are very different, as individuals. Challenge stereotyping and negative thinking by asking the person if they've personally observed this to be true, or seen it happen. Counter with examples that challenge the person to think differently, more optimistically.

8. Seek help if you need it.

There are trained professionals ready to listen and to help. Counselors and psychologists can help you deal with your reactions triggered by past events. Coaches can help you stay focused on moving ahead with plans and goals and managing events in an emotionally intelligent way.

9. Protect people who are vulnerable.

Someone already stressed will experience anything in a more dire way. An elderly person living alone, someone chronically ill, or someone who's just suffered a tragedy may already be at their limit. Emotions are contagious ... think about what you're 'spreading'. Children shouldn't be exposed to what's going on, in conversation or on television. There are sites on the Internet that give advice on how to handle this with children. (Please see Holisticonline.com Anxiety Disorders infocenter and Bioterrorism infocenter for more details.)  Study them. Learn how to make your child feel safe and loved. Use some of the tips on yourself, on your 'inner child'.

10. Start a new personal adventure.

Take a course, start a new hobby, focus on a personal or professional development issue, lose weight, get in shape. The way we make the world better is one person at a time. This is a great time to forge ahead!

©Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc

Individualized coaching programs to develop your emotional intelligence, midlife transitions, career issues, personal and professional development.

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