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What is a Good Life? #45
Developing Emotional Intelligence with Teresa Quinlan
On the 45th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I'm delighted to introduce our guest, Teresa Quinlan - an Emotional Intelligence Coach and co-author of the book You Belong Here.
In this episode, we dive into Teresa's lifelong exploration of the question "is that me?" We explore practical aspects like expanding our emotional vocabulary, the importance of paying attention to our emotions by observing and naming them, and discuss accountability for our actions and emotional responses. Furthermore, we tackle the significant topic of knowing and communicating our boundaries, emphasising the balance needed to prevent emotions from running wild.
We also take a moment to reflect on the compassion and importance of acknowledging and accepting the changes in each other over time, instead of clinging to outdated models of ourselves and others.
While Teresa shares a personal example of applying these insights to bring about a profound shift in her relationship with her mother - a story that will hold relevance for many listeners (see 🎬 below).
If you're grappling with understanding and managing your emotions or find yourself continuously caught up in emotional reactions, this episode provides plenty of insights, thoughtful ideas to ponder, and practical exercises to experiment with towards crafting your own version of a good life.
The weekly clip from the podcast (5 mins), my weekly reflection (3 mins), the full podcast (68 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
As Teresa points out in the clip above, I consider it a considerable waste of time to believe that someone else is going to change simply by us pointing out their flaws and emotionally reacting whenever they don’t meet our expectations. What can be a more self-defeating and self-punishing exercise than losing our minds at people for behaving as we have always known them to?
Like Teresa, and probably like you, it hasn’t stopped me from repeatedly doing this before learning the lesson, and also intermittently sliding back into that pattern of behaviour. An important perspective in my own development in my relationships has been the realisation that someone’s reaction to us is rarely ever personal. Even if the relationship is of a personal nature and it hurts, the actions of another person are rarely personal to you.
Amongst many contributing factors, early childhood experiences from birth to around 8 have significantly affected the development of the brain's architecture. In most of your relationships, that will rarely have anything to do with you. All their life experiences, their nature, etc., have contributed to how they view and interpret the world today.
While we can also see how hard it is at times to break our own patterns or loops, the consistency of effort it can take, the vulnerability to yourself and others to admit fault, and the repeated failed attempts until something actually clicks. When you consider this, as well as how little we enjoy criticism and how defensive we consequently are sometimes, do you really think repeatedly criticising someone or emotionally reacting to them is going to get your desired response or change?
As Teresa points out in the clip above, I see focusing on our boundaries, understanding and communicating why they are important to us as a much more productive approach. Even prior to this, I suggest spending some time with yourself and establishing clear personal values. Not simply picking positive words from a list of desirable traits but investigating and finding demonstrations of what is really important to you, and building your boundaries around those.
When you become super clear on why something is important to you, if someone is in conflict with that, it once again is not personal. You simply have your own code, it doesn’t mean it will put you in harmony with everyone. I value X; when you do Y, it is in conflict with X; therefore, please stop or respect what I value. If someone does not wish to abide by that, then it is up to you to decide if this relationship continues or not.
Being able to communicate our values with firmness rather than in a wildly reactive emotional state is key. That is where really interesting things can occur in our relationships. That is where your actions, rather than words and your criticisms of others, can have a profound effect on the behaviour of others. If I have always known you to react by doing X and now you are doing Y, if my actions no longer create X in you, now already I am in a different relationship with you, an aspect of the relationship has shifted.
Even if I seek other ways to evoke X in you once more, there is at least still a change in behaviour or movement. Where there is movement, there is hope; there’s little more depressing experiences than the same loop stuck on repeat in a relationship.
That is the repeated practice for me. If my objective is for a relationship to change, or if another person’s behaviour is going to change in relation to me, then I must be the one to change something first. Something must genuinely shift in my own behaviour, and I must demonstrate it consistently before I could even begin to hope or imagine something will change in someone else.
If you’d like to work with me to awaken your own self-inquiry, message me here to a arrange a free 30-minute 1-on-1 consultation
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3. Full Episode - Developing Emotional Intelligence with Teresa Quinlan - What is a Good Life? #45
4. This week’s Questions
How are you feeling right now? How many emotions can you name? Are any of them seemingly contradicting each other?
Is there someone in your life that you could cut some slack to in seeing and acknowledging the change they have gone through, regardless of what they have done in the past?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed over 170 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.