Accidents happen. Sure they do. But I find it mighty i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g that accidents often happen when we are emotionally charged. I know it firsthand for having totalled two vehicles, broken and lost some valuable property, and broken and lost not-so-valuable property.
When you think of it, the accident-emotions link is only logical.
According to current scientific knowledge, emotions are the expression of our neurochemistry in response to internal or external triggers. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, favours a positive mood and feelings of happiness. Dopamine affects, among other functions, perception of reality; low levels have been associated with distorted thinking. High endorphins levels are associated with rage and anxiety while normal levels are typically seen when pleasurable states are being experienced and low levels, or problems with the molecular binding process – think of this as having a car but no key to get into it – are often seen in depression.*
Doesn’t it make sense then that a person who is overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, impatient, eager, sad, bored, lonely, excited, depressed or worried, might be neurochemically influenced in a way that could make her inattentive? Couldn’t her distraction increase the risk of an accident?
The garburator story…
A few months ago, I was in a situation that caused me to feel quite sad in some moments and worried, fearful, doubtful, and impatient in others. Not wanting to be the proverbial shoeless shoemaker, I knew that my work was to tune into these emotions, heed the messages, learn and grow.
This situation was not just a momentary event, it extended over several weeks. While it lasted, I made my self-care a priority. I practiced yoga at least four times weekly. I meditated when my mind hamster ran that wheel like a hawk was chasing it. I also dove into my work which fills me with tremendous joy and satisfaction. You could say that I was going through a tropical storm on a cruise ship.
One morning, despite the choppy waters, I was feeling rather rested, calm, and grateful. As I sipped coffee from my favourite mug, I ran water to rinse a few dishes from the night before. The water was not draining well. Faster than that wheeling hamster, my hand automatically reached for the garburator switch, ready to evacuate. In that same instant, I received an impulse to check for food debris that might be sitting on the garburator blades. Lo and behold, I found a large piece of green glass from a wine bottle I had broken a few days prior. Had I turned on the garburator switch, I’m pretty sure the glass would have caused significant damage to those blades.
What does this have to do with emotional intelligence?
You be the judge.
Although you may not realize it, emotions are at play at every second of every minute of every waking hour. We think we think and then act but we don’t. We think, feel, and then act. Our emotions guide and govern our every move. Whether those emotions inspire desirable or undesirable behaviour all depends on how emotionally intelligent we are. According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence, or EQ**, allows us to recognize and regulate our own emotions as well as to recognize and respond to the emotions of others.
The day I stood at the kitchen sink watching it fill up, I had been in the situation – the personal situation, not the garburator situation – for about three weeks already. It would have been easy and totally justifiable to let myself wallow in the sadness, fear, worry, doubt, and impatience that the situation was triggering. From that state, I would have been unable to focus on my work and its quality would have certainly taken a hit. From that state, I would not have been nurturing my physical body as well either. Then guilt would piled onto the rest of the low vibration emotional stack making it that much heavier to bear. From this state, it’s rather obvious that my conversations would have been less energizing and satisfying than I usually make them – or attempt to make them. As a result, I might have temporarily isolated myself to avoid the burden and the guilt of not being the uplifter that I typically am. You get the picture.
From this unresourceful state, in the moment the water level rose in a sink that should have been draining, I think that the impulse to check for debris would have been drowned by the feeling of irritation or annoyance or frustration or powerlessness or overwhelm that would have been ANOTHER low vibration emotion on the stack and I would have activated the switch only to hear the unsettling noise of blades crushing glass…
Instead, by proactively integrating activities and strategies that revved me up like a 10-year old at Disney World, I hedged low vibrational emotions before they started to pile up too high. I believe I was in a resourceful state that allowed me to hear the whisper of intuition in what most people would call a “chance” happening or “luck.”
I’m curious, do you sometimes deny yourself the credit for what appears to be a “chance” or “lucky” event that actually resulted from you being in a resourceful or high vibrational emotional state?
PS: This post might seem self-elevating if you haven’t read previous ones where other areas of my EQ were not, let’s just say, as well developed…
*Please note this sample of neurotransmitter function is a droplet in the ocean of neuroendocrinology.
**Emotional intelligence = EQ = emotional quotient.