Key to Healthy Relationships
Becoming aware of our emotions and how we manage them influences every aspect of our lives. Our emotions indicate our connection with other people and the world around us.
As humans, we share a common set of emotions—we all can relate to feelings of anger, sorrow, pride and joy. Our ability to feel these emotions and empathize with others as they experience them is what keeps us connected.
International mind-body health authorities and renowned medical doctors Deepak Chopra and David Simon, cofounders of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, share some practical steps to create and maintain emotional balance and freedom in our relationships.
Three Components of Healthy Relationships
by Deepak Chopra
As we embrace relationships, along with the energy we share with our family, friends, co-workers, and our self, we see how critically significant these interpersonal interactions are to our own emotional development. These evolving relationships are the most obvious barometers of our emotional well-being. At their heart, all relationships are spiritual experiences. They nurture us, teach us and connect us to the soul of others, and most significantly, to the depth of our very own souls.
Through the growth of these various relationships, and our continued journey on the path of emotional freedom, we discover extended states of awareness, which stretch out from our soul. This aspect of our humanity is the mirror of relationships. Each relationship is a reflection of our own soul and therefore a mechanism to take us to higher states of consciousness.
Emotions are released to restore balance in our psyches. The limits we impose on our emotions originated with the discomfort of our parents. We formed our boundaries by reacting to theirs. They also were taught as children to recognize when an emotion was too much. Their sense of appropriateness was inherited, and they had little choice but to pass it on. What this means is that our emotional life isn’t completely ours. It comes to us secondhand. Every tear we shed, every angry outburst and every peal of laughter reflects the emotional comfort range of parents and grandparents—people other than us.
The emotional intelligence that is unique to each of us can be recaptured, rekindled and more highly developed if we acknowledge its potential and significance and incorporate three components into our daily activities:
Place attention on your emotions
Each day, from the moment you awaken to the moment you go to sleep, place your attention on your emotions. This critical first step will allow you to truly experience love and emotional compassion.
After the first step has been forged, you are able to look beyond yourself to others. This leads you to the second component of emotional intelligence: empathy. Noticing another’s emotions is the essence of communication. Can you feel what another person is feeling? By this I do not mean simply to understand what another person is feeling, but to actually feel it as if it permeates every cell in your body.
fully what is happening, while simultaneously maintaining
the perspective of a wise observer. After the initial wave of
feelings subsides, we can broaden our perspective by considering
how we’d counsel a best friend in a similar situation.
The third component of emotional intelligence is the ability to manage relationships. This is a sensitive combination of being true to oneself, being generous of heart and being fully present. This is often easier said than done, but reaching out to another with love, compassion, understanding, defenselessness, empathy and spontaneity takes you to higher planes of spiritual existence.
Managing relationships requires honesty, willingness and an open heart. This is sometimes more difficult for individuals who are unwilling to make themselves vulnerable. Yet for those willing to take the chance, emotional intelligence is a lifelong gift that provides the gateway to spiritual intelligence—the interdependent co-arising of events: synchronicity, magic, alchemy, miracles. We all have the capacity to reach that plane of existence if we start with a foundation of emotional intelligence.
Seven Steps to Emotional Release
Use this technique when you find yourself in emotional turmoil, as well as when you’re feeling depressed, “flat” or empty. It can help set you on the path to a new sense of self, a fresh perspective on life, even a childlike calm.
1. Identify the emotion. Find a quiet place and ask, “What am I feeling?” The one-word answer may be anger, sadness, fear, guilt, frustration, anxiety, etc. Define and describe the feeling as clearly as possible.
2. Witness the feeling in the body. Notice where you feel it. Is it located in the stomach, heart, throat, genitals or the base of the spine? Observe closely and allow your attention to stay on the sensation. Breathe into the feeling. Fully experiencing the physical sensations allows the emotional charge to dissipate.
3. Take responsibility for what you are feeling. Understanding that you have a choice in how you respond to and interpret your experience is the key to healing the emotional body.
4. Express the emotion. Write about the emotion. Speak it out loud in private. Describe the situation and the effect it’s having on your heart and soul. This step offers clarity and insight while releasing emotional toxins.
5. Release the emotion through a physical ritual. Experiment to discover what works best. Dance with abandon, exercise deep breathing, go for a run, get a massage. Such activities help release the tension stored with the emotion.
6. Share the emotion. Once you’ve released it and calmed down, share what you felt and experienced with the person involved. Having completed steps 1 through 5, this may be done without blame and without intent to manipulate the other person toward approval or pity.
7. Celebrate! It’s time to reward yourself for identifying and releasing the painful emotion. Treat yourself to favorite music, a wonderful present or a delicious meal.
Uncovering Our True Needs
by David Simon
An emotion is the fundamental mind-body experience. We call emotions “feelings” because we feel them in our bodies. An emotion is a sensation in the body associated with a thought in the mind. Emotions are designed to ensure that we are paying attention so we can respond to what is happening around us.
All emotions can be reduced to two primary feelings—those of comfort and those of discomfort. Whether or not we are aware of it, every choice we make is based upon the expectation that the choice will lead to greater comfort. The anticipated feeling drives all our choices.
There is a simple but seldom-recognized principle that can help us achieve emotional freedom: the recognition that all emotions derive from needs. When we feel that our needs are being met, we experience feelings of comfort. The better we are at getting our needs met, the more peaceful and comfortable our lives will be.
The key question to achieving emotional freedom is, “How do we communicate our needs in such a way that we are more likely to have them met?”
Drawing on the work of psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, there are skills of conscious communication that can be learned. Focusing your attention on these four steps can lead the way to emotional freedom:
1. Identify the event that triggered your emotional upset. Being an astute observer can help you move out of reactive modes into more conscious communication of your feelings and needs. Saying to your friend, “You are never on time,” will be less useful than saying, “We agreed to meet at the theater at 7 p.m., and you did not show up until 7:30 after the show began.” Be as accurate and precise with what has happened so you do not waste precious emotional resources arguing about how a specific event fits into a pattern of behavior.
2. Take responsibility for your feelings. When describing your feelings, choose words that express the sensation you are experiencing, as in “I feel…sad, lonely, frustrated, jealous.” Try not to use labels, such as “I feel that you are…self centered, rude, arrogant.” Also, avoid words that reinforce your sense of victimization, such as “I feel…neglected, rejected, betrayed.” When you take responsibility for your emotions, you are informing rather than blaming the people in your life.
try to anesthetize oneself with distractions, such as
comfort foods, alcohol or TV. Instead, simply feel
the sensations present and quietly ask, “What
are you telling me?”
3. Identify what you want that you are not getting. As infants, we had caregivers continuously trying to figure out what we needed. As adults, identifying your own needs increases the chances that you will get them fulfilled.
4. Ask for what you want. Ask for specific words or actions that will fulfill your desires. For example, if you are seeking more attention from your partner, do not ask him or her just to spend more time with you. Ask your partner to take a walk after dinner or go to a movie on Saturday night.Express your need in the form of a request rather than a demand. We all have an inherent impulse to resist demands, whereas our self-esteem is raised when we are able to fulfill requests.
Practicing this simple process can be remarkably effective in transforming turbulent relationships into harmonious ones. As we feel increasingly confident that we can get our emotional needs met in a relationship, we can spend more time celebrating, rather than lamenting, our lives and our loves.
David Simon, MD, is the CEO, cofounder and medical director of The Chopra Center and the author of groundbreaking books on health, balance and complementary healing. He’s lauded for his real-world practical applications of his message.
Deepak Chopra, MD, is acknowledged as one of the world’s great leaders in the field of mind-body medicine. Through his books, lectures, radio show and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California, he is transforming our understanding of the meaning of health.
To attend an Emotional Freedom or Perfect Health workshop through The Chopra Center for Wellbeing visit.