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Why Cultivating Emotional Capacity is Necessary
Hello, my friends. It's been a long time since my last post. A lot has changed since then; I'm sure the same applies to you. Over the last few months, I've felt a deep yearning to reconnect with my writing in a more consistent cadence. I've had some thoughts floating in my mind and some delightful experiences of growth and learning over the past year, some of which I want to share with you today.
This post is a little longer than usual, but if you're still here and curious, let's get into it.
A small update
Many of you know my work as an Integral Coach™—I have even had the honour and pleasure of working with some of you, something I dearly cherish. For those who are new here—there are a few of you—I want to welcome and thank you for joining. For that reason, it might be worth a small introduction.
My name is Miguel. I have a 15-year career in the software development industry, engaging in roles ranging from Software Developer to Manager to Director of Engineering. Today, as a second career, I work as a developmental Coach and engage with and empower leaders to journey beyond their current ways of being and harness their fullest potential.
It's exciting and rewarding work. I love what I do, as it gives me a chance to journey with the most outstanding people on their authentic quest to create lasting change within themselves as a way to enable them to have the impact they want and reach the outcomes they care about most.
In very exciting news, earlier in May of this year, I completed my Integral Master Coach™ certification, the third and last module of a rewarding, profound and deeply transformative coaching program with Integral Coaching Canada, a nearly five-year journey for me. This accomplishment represents many years of experience, coaching training, dedication to personal development, and my continued commitment to delivering the best coaching services to my clients.
The Need for Greater Emotional Capability
There's a discrepancy between the speed at which the technological-economic base evolves and our cultural and personal worldviews.
Technological change is adopted much quicker. New technologies rise and fall constantly, and some change the fundamental landscape of humanity. The industrial revolution of the 1700s and the informational shift of the 20th century are great examples. Perhaps artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most prominent examples of a change that is happening quickly and reinventing, in some cases, how we do things.
Paradoxically, human development and cultural change happen much more slowly. While new ways of doing things can more easily be adopted— like switching from using a plow to working with a machine in a factory or from a factory to a computer—our values, beliefs, and preferences lag behind. This creates tension between the more advanced technological base available, their innate impacts and problems, and the more complex thinking required to hold and engage with these productively.
You can read more about this phenomenon in this recently published essay by Ken Wilber. You will need a subscription for access.
I want to point to one (of many) essential and fundamental capacities we must cultivate within ourselves to provide us with what we need to deal with the constant changes happening around us: emotional capacity—also known as emotional intelligence.
A highly developed emotional capacity means the ability to increasingly become more self-aware and recognize emotions, learn to regulate and manage them, and better understand and interpret them within ourselves and others. This leads us to use emotions to think better and develop more profound and authentic relationships. We can think of it as a set of layers, where each layer allows a deeper, richer and more compassionate appreciation for our emotions, the emotions of our neighbours, and the rest of the world.
For example, we can recognize a level of depth in people by noticing their capability to be with pain without the need to push it down, deny its presence, or try to get over it. To be with and hold pain is a true sign of emotional maturity.
Modernity and the business culture we most often see in our organizations don't fully acknowledge the value of being with pain and emotions. The more common approach is the policy that emotions are better left at home.
This approach is well-intentioned yet misaligned. Leaving a core part of who we are outside of where we spend most of our time—at work—doesn't lead to more rational thinking and performance. Instead, it creates a disconnect from our bodies and emotions, a source of deep and powerful intelligence greatly needed for us to perform.
Perhaps we can begin to recognize that what we once understood as the best way of doing business is evolving, and what worked yesterday will no longer be enough today and requires shifting for a better tomorrow.
An initial step we can take to begin our development in this area is becoming aware of the polarity between emotional expression in the workplace and emotional restraint and recognizing what is gained and lost by overemphasizing one at the detriment of the other.
See the upsides (top half) and downsides (bottom half) of each pole of this polarity below:
The answer isn't to choose one side over the other but to integrate both in a holistic, more comprehensive and mature way, benefiting from the upside and mitigating the downside in a healthy fashion so we may experience the deep and powerful transformation and impact of emotions in the workplace without losing sight of the productive nature we seek within our organizations.
In my experience as an Integral Coach™, one of the areas I most often see as needed when clients come to work with me is developing the link between their mind, body, and heart in a way that allows them to continue to engage, produce and perform while maintaining a deeper and heartfelt alignment with their whole self.
Beyond the workplace, life is full of difficult and challenging events and experiences that we are just not okay with. This might look like the various wars happening across the world and the injustice of who lives and dies as a result, or the loss of a loved one to a horrible disease or act-of-god accidents. It's okay not to be okay with these.
A deeper, richer, healthier relationship with emotions allows for a more subtle distinction: while we are not okay with all of it, we are more capable of being with it.
In which aspect of your life could you begin to notice the value of having better emotional awareness, and what impact would that have on your ability to engage more fully and productively?
Please share what came up for you in the comments.
I'm currently taking on a few coaching clients. If this speaks to you, you know someone, or you're currently sensing you're at a crossroads and could benefit from looking at a circumstance through different lenses, please reach out to me; I'd love to hear from you and discover what it is that you seek, and how I can help.
Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week.
Sparknotion — Think Differently.
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