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Relational Intelligence: A Look at How We Relate to Others

Relational Intelligence: A Look at How We Relate to Others

A big part of becoming more resilient, bouncing back and healing from trauma involves two different types of work.

  1. The first type of work we need to do involves us looking inward to rewire, retrain and reevaluate ourselves so that we can think and behave differently. This often requires elements of compassion, empathy and a greater understanding of ourselves so we can begin to see things differently and heal.
  2. Once we’ve done the work looking inward, the second type of work we need to do involves looking outward. Here’s where we use what we’ve strengthened and learned within ourselves to cultivate healthy connections, offer support, place safe and secure boundaries in place, and enjoy relationships in healthy ways.

Much of these elements fall under the category of “Relational Intelligence” which has been defined by the Academy of Management as: “A combination of emotional and ethical intelligence. That involves the ability to be aware of and understand our own and others emotions, values, interests and demands, to discriminate among them, to critically reflect on them and to use this information to guide one’s actions and behavior with respect to people.”

So my summary of that would mean: relational intelligence is the ability to effectively act, interact and react to others.

So how do you do that?

One way is through both new conditioning and reconditioning (also known as memory reconsolidation) I explained this in the first post of the series which you can find here, but in a nutshell, new conditioning is when you learn a process, such as meditation, a mindfulness practice, etc. that creates new neural networks in the brain. This new circuitry then becomes available as an option to use to help rewire negative patterns and predictable behaviors as well help calm the nervous system, heal and become more resilient.

[Related: Emotional Intelligence is the Key to Unlocking Your Career Growth]

Reconditioning is when you purposely think of the negative memory (without running the risk of strengthening the painful memory). Once the memory and neural circuitry of that memory is lit up, you’d then intentionally think of a positive memory that contradicts the negative one. By toggling between the two or focusing on the positive memory at the same time you were thinking of the negative one, over time, the negative memory loses its charge and the while the memory remains, the emotional impact it had on you is reduced or eliminated. (Please know, there’s more to it but this is the basic idea. I’m oversimplifying here so please find the right therapist or practitioner who can help you with this.)

A second way is through a powerful process, art, and practice. I’m talking about the practice of forgiveness. I know how hard it can be so be patient with yourself here. Whether you’re in need of forgiving yourself or someone else, withholding forgiveness keeps your brain on “lockdown.” It keeps you stuck, prevents your healing and your ability to become more resilient. Forgiveness takes the brain out of a state of contraction and allows us to reopen to compassion, and a greater ability to cope. Forgiveness allows us to heal physically, mentally and emotionally.

Now, I understand that you may have done something harmful, hurtful and the thought of it makes you cringe. You may be living in a state of shame, regret and you’d do anything to take back your words or actions. Or maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s harmful words or actions. You’ve been wronged terribly and the injustice haunts and follows you wherever you go. Yes you’ve done something terrible or something terrible was done to you and if you shared your story with anyone, they’d agree. Even with that, withholding forgiveness for yourself or for the person who hurt you prevents your life from moving forward and it’s time to heal. (If you need help with this, I have an entire chapter devoted to forgiveness in The Unshakable Woman and in the companion guide workbook.

Whether you find support to help you forgive, books, meditations or mantras, please consider taking the first steps towards forgiveness if you can. Most importantly, be gentle on yourself. Forgiveness happens in layers and stages, sometimes in a miraculous moment and sometimes, not at all…and it’s all ok. Whatever you’re able to forgive and let go of starting now is the perfect place to start and is still moving you in a healthier direction. I remember a mentor saying; “You can’t steer a parked car.” Forgiveness sets the wheels in motion for a healthier, happier and more resilient you.

Here’s to looking inward and outward on your path towards greater relational intelligence, resilience and happiness.

Have you forgiven yourself or someone else, and how did it help you? We’d love to know, comment and share!

This article previously appeared on DebiSilber.com.

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Debi Silber MS, RD, WHC, FDN, Founder of www.DebiSilber.com, is a recognized health, weight loss, fitness, wellness, lifestyle and personal development expert, speaker and author who has led countless others to transform into their personal and professional best. Debi’s contributed to FOX, CBS, The Dr. Oz show, TEDx, The Huffington Post, Shape, Self, Health, Forbes, Psychology Today, WebMD, Yahoo Shine, Ladies Home Journal, MSN, Woman's World and Glamour to name a few.


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