Dawn-Marie DesRoches


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An ongoing series of information, personal stories, and resources

EQ - What's that?

January 5, 2018

According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” Basically, there are three main skills we all need: “emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and cheering up or calming down other people.”

All of us have some of these skills to a certain extent, but few have really mastered any of them. That’s ok. As long as we are human, we will have room to grow in just about every aspect of our lives. Learning or bettering the skills of EQ positively impacts every aspect of life because it starts with greater understanding of ourselves and works outward to better personal and professional relationships. It can’t make you like the driver that cuts you off in traffic, but it can help the event not wreck your mood, consume your thinking, or impact the way you drive.

Emotions have gotten a bad wrap because people think having emotions equals being out of control. Nope! You need your emotions. They are like the dashboard in your car. They tell you all kinds of things about yourself and others. Without our emotions, we can’t make good choices, build lasting relationships, find value in life and more.

Some will argue that it is the lack of emotions that allows for clarity, calm, stable, intelligent decision making. I would say that those who have learned to listen to, understand, and guide their emotions are more able to have clear, calm, stable, and intelligent interactions and make good choices. It is not in the suppression of what we feel that we succeed. It is in the application of understanding self and the skills needed to put that understanding to work that we flourish.

Do you have to be perfect to help?

February 9, 2018

I hope not! But I’ve been told by some that if I let people know that I’m not perfect, it will negatively impact what I’m trying to do. I no longer believe those people. I know there are individuals who have issues I can help with. Disclaimer: I am quite far from perfect.

I have PTSD from childhood and adult trauma. I have anxiety and depression. I work hard every day to work around these things and to heal them. I have made huge progress, but I still have days where doing anything beyond getting out of bed feels very challenging. I want to help people understand that they are valuable, capable, smart, talented, resilient, full of grit, content, and sometimes happy. Part of that is helping them understand that the opposite stuff they feel is ok. 

Everyone is anxious, depressed, grumpy, nervous, shy, self-critical, and more, at least sometimes. If we can’t move beyond those feelings, we need to learn some specific skills. We need to train our brains and our emotions to respond more harmoniously to the situations and activities of our lives. And you can do that work and still be of service at the same time.

So, if you would like to be doing things that are helpful for others, but you are worried that you won’t be good enough or that you still have too much “wrong” with you, consider this: If you needed to navigate a dense jungle, would you want a guide who has navigated it before several times, or would you want one who theoretically knows about jungles? What you have been through is part of what makes you who you are. You have learned from some of it. In some ways, you are stronger because of it. Understanding that your struggles are helping you grow will give you some perspective on how to use those challenges to better yourself and to be compassionate, patient, and helpful to others.

Be wise about how much you share of your personal experience. When helping, we can make the mistake of burdening others with our problems while we attempt to relate. But, being humble, admitting that you don’t have everything figured out, listening more than talking, giving little to no advice, being supportive of their thought process can all go very far in helping others feel heard and helped. You don’t need to be “perfect” to do that. You just need to be present.

I'm enough

March 15, 2018

My early memories have some sweet moments of my mom making a picnic and taking my brother and me out on the row boat to the island. That sounds grander than it is. The pond in our side yard was about an acre big, and the island was about 20 feet in diameter, and I loved every inch of it. The island was tree covered and felt like a world all unto itself.

Anyway, whether it was time on the island or across the street to the stream, when I was very little, before I started school, there were creative, wonderful moments with my mom. Then my dad’s business went bankrupt, and they both started working nearly 24/7. The mood changed at home. Both of my parents worked incredibly hard to stay afloat.  I have never known anyone who worked as hard at being “good” people as my parents did. I owe a lot of what I really like about myself to their example.

What went wrong for me, though, was that their stress and fear loomed large at home. Regardless of what they wanted to portray, I felt judged, put down, and either too much or not enough. Those feelings grew with bullying in high school and with my first marriage. Some bosses and acquaintances added to the negative impression I had of myself. People would say I wasn’t good enough in some way, and I believed all of it.

After my divorce, I started to feel like maybe it wasn’t always me. Maybe those who put me down had their own issues that clouded how they saw me. Maybe that is the way it always is. People can’t really like or dislike me. They can only relate or not relate, and I will have control over some of that, but probably not very much.

So, who do I work to please? How do I have friends? How do I feel like I am enough?

I’ve watched and analyzed people for as long as I can remember. I’ve known some people who chose to take a “Fuck You!” attitude where what others think doesn’t matter. But these people have seemed unhappy. Their attempts to mask their desire to be approved of aren’t really working. It’s just making them more and more sad and angry. Then there are those who don’t care what others think, and they are content, free. They are able to be themselves without resentment.

I could be wrong, but the difference seems to be that the first people have believed their detractors, and the second have not. Somehow, the second group of people have an ability to like themselves no matter what anyone else thinks. But they also seem to be able to let others be themselves. They don’t have big judgments about others. They “live and let live.”

I’ve worked hard over the last few years to clear out as many judgments of others as I can. I don’t want to think that someone isn’t dressed right or doesn’t use the English language just right, or doesn’t know enough, or is wrong in some way. I haven’t gotten rid of all of my judgments, but the more of them that legitimately leave, the better off I am.

As much as I’ve always wanted to have no prejudices, subtly, over time, they crept in. I started noticing in college. I didn’t like the thoughts in my head. I wanted to see the beauty in everyone. I never wanted to be the source of rejection in anyone’s life. I don’t want to do to others what I had experienced. 

Being human and fallible seemed unacceptable traits throughout much of my life. It’s been hard to let myself be human and to not try desperately to live up to someone else’s ideas of what I should be. I’m not fully there yet, but I will be. The increased sense of self-care and freedom has been so worth the effort.

I know that who I am at my core is awesome. There may not be throngs of people who can relate to me, but why should that matter? I’ll be content with those who can. They exist, and I am profoundly grateful for each one of them. And as I find my own sense of confidence and grace, and am more able to offer that to others.

EQ Solutions: You2.0

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