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How to deal with the delusional optimist

  • Can you think of a friend who haphazardly or even recklessly makes illogical decisions without first considering the consequences or potential outcomes?
  • Does your line manager or business partner easily sweep issues and concerns under the carpet with careless dismissal of the impact this would have on workforce morale or workload?
  • Is there a member in your family who is quite good at ignoring common apprehensiveness or unease, who may come across as a bad listener?

If there is someone in your personal or professional life showing these kinds of behaviours, it could be that you are having to deal with a delusional optimist.

During a week-long school trip to Shrewsbury in year 6 (ages 10-11), our year group were divided into smaller groups for a group activity. I really loved this group activity, and even now I tend to use it as a team-building exercise for already existing working groups (or families)! One at a time, we had to wait outside the room whilst the others discussed which animal he or she was most like, and to describe his or her qualities. When it came to my turn, I was described as a nightingale because I sang and because I was an optimist. It was the first time I’d ever heard the word optimist (to my recollection); and have felt close to it ever since! 

What is ‘optimism’?

We have all heard of optimism. Optimism’s root, called ‘hope’, is a foundational virtue for its rise in the human heart and provides its nourishment. Loss of hope results in a loss of optimism, for optimism cannot survive without hope. Judeo-Christianity defines hope as the ‘greatest of all God’s gifts’, together with the other theological virtues of faith and charity. One of the earliest use of the term ‘optimism’ is in the work of Leibniz in the early 1700’s, but in modern history, the scholarly works into mental health of Fromm (1955), Freud (1966), Taylor & Brown (1988) and Seligman (today looked up to as the father of positive psychology) bring us to the popular definition of ‘optimism’ as we know it today, which is ‘a generalised expectation that good things will happen’ (Carver & Scheier, 2009) and is regarded as an attributional style (Seligman, 2006), a trait (Carver & Scheier, 2009) and an inherent human characteristic (Sharot, Riccardi, Raio & Phelps, 2007). 

Excessive optimism

As with all things of nature or spirit, balance exists and must be attained. It’s one of my life’s missions, to acquire balance in myself, and to help others attain it too – not just physiological balance (what is called homeostasis), but in all things that ontologically touch a human’s personhood. What we need for optimal performance must be at the right amount. Otherwise, it’s not good for us. This is a truth as pertains to both natural and supernatural law. 

A helpful analogy for balance is our daily intake of vitamins. Let’s take vitamin C. We only need 40mg of this vitamin a day for optimal performance. A chronic deficiency in this vitamin will eventually cause problems. Likewise, too much of this vitamin will eventually cause different problems (you can check my vitamin C factfile for more info about this). Imagine… we only need 40mg of vitamin C a day, and yet, people take 1000mg daily of this vitamin daily, believing that the more it’s consumed, the better the body will be for it. This is, quite simply, delusional, and potentially dangerous or painful (as it can exacerbate issues like hemochromatosis or oxalate-formed kidney stones, etc.). In fact, as a water-soluble vitamin, our bodies have a very, very clever way of eliminating any excess or unmetabolized vitamin C through our urine, so that we don’t have too much of it in our system at any one time.

The same concept must also be applied to the amount of optimism we require for peak performance as human beings. Ironically, people tend to think of the opposite of optimism as pessimism. However, I would disagree with this. I would argue that the opposite of pessimism is something called acedia (a hopelessness or spiritual depression. In the Christian faith, it is a desolation of sorts). The scope of this blogpost isn’t to deal with acedia or even explore it. However, I have done a lot of reading on this state and would be happy to write about it if it’s of interest to readers. The scope of this blogpost is to develop thought and gain insight on how to deal with a ‘delusional optimist’, but what is that? In 1988/89, ground-breaking work by psychologists Taylor and Brown claimed that although optimism is normal and natural, positive illusions, as differentiated between ‘inflated positive self-perception’, ‘exaggerated assessments of personal control’ and ‘unrealistic optimism’ present an inaccurate view of reality. With this realisation came the warning that illusions can be taken to excess, and when the ‘margin of optimal illusion’ is surpassed, we end up battling with the costs of delusional optimism.

Actions, behaviours and attitudes of delusional optimists – and how to deal with them

Please note that this list of actions, behaviours and attitudes are not strictly limited to delusional optimists. They could be signs and symptoms of other issues, conditions or even be a regular trait in certain personality types. 

Stubbornness

Delusional optimists are often very stubborn about the end to which they’re being optimistic about. This is just a result of their strong conviction that ‘things are going to be fine / work out the way they should’. This conviction can cause their ears and their hearts to disregard the genuine worries of others, which is why it’s important to remember that when dealing with someone operating in this mode, they are not purposely ignoring YOU. Also, it is understandable why one might become suspicious of their actions when they don’t openly communicate their intentions aloud. Don’t take their disinterest in your concerns personally. They are just highly convinced and are already committed in their hearts to a course of action that they fundamentally believe is best for everyone, and nothing but a crisis can wake them up from this delusional stupor. If the course of action leads to disaster, it may be easier to accept it as such, and to learn big lessons from it. However, if the course of action proves to be a success, then this delusional optimist deserves credit and praise for their dedication and commitment, as well as the courage it took to achieve the success (no matter how blind or ill-considered it was). 

Over-confidence

This behaviour makes sense if we ruminate on Taylor and Brown’s ground-breaking work as mentioned above. A delusional optimist may possess an inflated positive self-perception. This is when his/her subjective judgement signals self-possession of ‘better than average’, or maybe even ‘the best’, in quality or quantity: attributes, characteristics, skills, or abilities compared to others. They can tend to make exaggerated assessments of things they believe they have more control of or in, than they do in reality. This is due in part to the idea that what is objectively considered risky, may not be subjectively deemed so by the person. The phrase ‘throwing caution to the wind’ would ring bells here. A delusional optimist is a risk manager’s worst nightmare! In practice, the unrealistic optimism of such a person could cause an underestimation of resources and requirements to bring a project to success, or equally cause an overestimation of planned outcomes that would result in major losses (e.g. in money, relationships, time, reputation). However, being over-confident can have two distinct advantages. 1) Should a project work in favour of the delusional optimist, they’ll become a genius or somewhat of a hero figure among the pack, and 2) in the face of challenges, the delusional optimist has an uncanny ability to raise morale, motivation and performance, thereby increasing chances of success. Risk language doesn’t really work in convincing a delusional optimist to hit their pause button. If anything, it will only drive them further and more headstrong into their pursuit. In this situation, one must find a way to keep the motivation of the delusional optimist up whilst tactfully communicating the potential benefit or advantage of pulling back the reigns as attractive and positively aspirational. Killing their confidence wouldn’t be a good way to gain healthy results.

Irresponsibility

It might appear that the delusional optimist exhibits flagrantly irresponsible behaviour. The issue with this perspective is that, this would not be their perspective. When combining my points on stubbornness and over-confidence above, we are left with this: the unease of having to deal with decision-makers appearing to ignore responsibility. Where decisions have little to no impact on people, assets or liabilities, then objectively, responsibility lessens. If decisions have major impact on people, assets or liabilities, then responsibility understandably increases, and quite drastically. In a world where all things are equal, simple ‘what if’ questions may suffice for alerting someone to address their responsibility – however, this rarely works for the delusional optimist. The coaching style here would alter slightly to – in a way – work ‘backwards’. Helping them foresee any ‘fire-fighting’ activity that might come their way post-event, could be the best eye-opener for them.

Conclusion: Behaviour change through motivational interviewing

The best time to inspire behaviour change so that this optimist can continue to be an optimist, but a realistic one, is when they’re not focused on a project that they are already certain would be a crazy success! Working during a time of lull or when enthusiasm isn’t heightened would be helpful for bringing in some objectivity into their subjective reality. Motivational interviewing is a highly recognised technique for supporting clients see reality more clearly, and to make healthy life changes.


I’m Claz, a personal health, life & career coach as well as a massage therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. You can book a session with me here or sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page. Upcoming workshops include personal resiliency training.

5 building blocks to resilience

My 5 building blocks to resilience are really very simple! They’re pretty much your foundations to #wellness.

🛌 SLEEP

Just the number of hormones released during your sleep alone should be enough to alert you to the importance of a healthy sleep routine. This is the necessary recovery time for your body, your mind, your emotions and serves as your daily reset. The relationship between resiliency and the ‘reset’ will feature in part 2 of my upcoming resiliency training programme. If you’re wanting sleep wellness tips though, you can check out a previous blogpost here.

💦 WATER

3.7 ltrs for men and 2.7 ltrs for women is the recommended daily fluid intake by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Some of this will come via your food intake. The rest needs to come via your drinks. Make it a habit to consume as much of this remainder as simple water, as opposed to other drinks (particularly those with caffeine in them). Research has shown us that water supplementation following a dehydrated state was found to improve performance on tasks measuring cognitive reflection in judgement and decision-making – critical elements of resiliency[1].

🙏 SPIRITUAL LIFE

Resiliency requires the use of both your intellect and your will (i.e. the heart). There is a very deep connection between resiliency and spirituality, which is often used as a tool to live well in relationships, manage change, cope with adversity, increase power of belief, and commit to upholding values and practices[2]. Nourish your spiritual life with prayer and meditation, and over time with the help of God’s grace, you will find yourself more ‘connected’ and more ready to face difficulties that will form (painful but necessary) part of your interior growth and maturation.

🥗 HEALTHY EATING

The link between stress and resilience is well known. And so is the advice on healthy eating to reduce stress[3]. In summary, here are the sub-tips I’ll share on #functionalfood:

  • Eat to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause a multitude of bodily malfunctions and imbalances, so be pro-active in avoiding chronic illness by reducing that.
  • Eat to promote and support your immune system. Daily raw fermented foods and aids are a great starting point. 
  • Consume your daily (or weekly) required amounts of vitamins and minerals. A 7 day food diary to kick this off is the best thing you can do to check that you’re on the right track!

🏋️‍♀️ EXERCISE

Doing your 10,000 steps is amazing… but it’s not enough. Our bodies were designed for movement – particularly walking – yes. But it was also designed for lifting, carrying and general resistance-style work. The minimum requirements of exercise for adults aged 18-64 are:

  • at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week 
  • muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week
  • limit the amount of time spent being sedentary
  • aim to do more than the recommended levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity 

Note the importance of strength & conditioning exercise being included in your weekly routine. The body needs it. And if your body needs it, so does your resilience.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30666412/ Given the varied effects of water on cognition, this study explored potential effects of water supplementation, hydration status, and thirst on thinking and decision-making tasks.

[2] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15528030.2018.1532859

[3] https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/body/food/healthy-eating-for-resilience


I’m Claz, a personal health & career coach as well as a massage therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. You can book a session with me here or sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page. Upcoming workshops include personal resiliency training.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?

During the summer months, I like to peep out of my bathroom window when I’m showering and enjoy the view of my back garden (please don’t worry, the window is walled up ’til head height for me. Promise I’m not flashing at anybody). From this height, I can often see the gardens of my neighbours (4 other gardens in total). Sometimes I can’t help but compare gardens. Ours is the most lush, most vibrant, most fruitful and undeniably the most green garden that I see. 

Earlier this month, I became rather irritated with the behaviour of relatives that I love dearly. They just didn’t seem to be happy with things being perceived as ‘normal’. Instead, things had to appear ‘rich’, or ‘luxury’, or portray ‘status’. I have some major thoughts about that. 

What things appear like to one person may be perceived very differently to someone else

Let’s take the example of apparel. There is a multitude of fake designer label schtuff out there. Now, I’m not one for designer labels anyway – I’d rather buy something for the sake of quality. If it happens to be designer, then so be it. Either way, I wouldn’t care. However, it strikes me as superficial if there is a clear attempt to give others the impression of class or status when that is not the truth or reality of the matter. This kind of behaviour is very much rooted in vanity, which is a spiritual daughter of pride. Whilst the wearer may believe they’re giving an impression of status, others may just be oppositely impressed by their illegitimacy and inauthenticity. 

A sense of unfulfillment stemming from ingratitude could lead a person to paralysis or misconduct

There are many reasons why a person might feel dissatisfied with life, and indeed, there are some things that we all have a right to be dissatisfied about. When someone’s dignity or rightful use of free will is being breached (for example, in the form of racism or abuse, or destitution of any kind), then this is absolutely a reason to be dissatisfied, and more! However, for the majority of us who live in the first world we have very little to be ungrateful about. 

The spirit of ingratitude traps people into a sense of unfulfillment – particularly if one places their self-worth on what they have/possess or what status they’ve achieved, rather than recognising their inherent worth by virtue of their human dignity. There are 3 ways we can react to this spirit of ingratitude: 1) we can be numbed by it; 2) we can be controlled by it; 3) we can change ourselves and live more in a spirit of gratitude. Let’s look at reactions 1 and 2…

One might eventually find themselves in a state of paralysis or self-loathing when one is feeling unfulfilled in life and if a number of these words present as true: demotivated, bored, dull, confused, stuck, indifferent/ apathetic, distressful, imbalanced, and/or directionless. On the other hand, one might eventually find themselves acting out of misconduct if any of these words present as true: jealousy, envy, anger, injustice, unruliness, greed, pressure, impulsiveness, intemperance, competition and/or licentiousness. Why might that be? The answer is simple yet difficult to embrace. We can be willing to lose control of ourselves in order to possess what we don’t have – and the problem with this is that when we surrender self-control, we hand power over to the object that we are desiring. Suddenly, that object has control over us, and we become a prisoner or a slave of that object. Actions done or made out-of-control all because of ingratitude often have negative outcomes and consequences as we lose ourselves in the process of it all.

The healthiest way to move forward when in a spirit of ingratitude, is to come back to yourself, revisit your core values and re-look at your options for moving forward. That’s where coaching helps tremendously. A conclusion that is most often reached is that we need to change ourselves: our way of thinking and our way of behaving. 

I’m not at all saying that people shouldn’t have aspirations or high standards. No. What I’m saying is that our aspirations should help serve our purpose in life; for it is living out our purpose that will bring us greatest happiness and there isn’t anything that we can be more grateful for than that. Our life is a gift to us and we have the choice to give of ourselves as gift to others around us. The sooner we accept that, the more gratefully we will live our lives. This requires the active practice of the virtue of humility. On the subject of standards, standards are important. But standards need to remain in context and realistic. 

Aspirations are a good thing. Foolishness is not.

Dishonesty makes one untrustworthy very fast. Once that trust is lost, the experience of ‘you’ in someone else’s mind is no longer credible. For people who live according to the core value of ‘truth’, being around people who tend to live any sort of lie becomes uncomfortable and potentially unpleasant. Particularly in the coaching industry, it is very important to identify authentically confident coaches, with confidently dishonest ones! Recently, I’ve been learning a lot from the FI (Financial Independence) community. I’ve met people whose net worth are millions, who still drive Fiat Cinquecentos and Toyota Aygos, even beyond reaching FI!! This goes to show that the ‘fake it until you make it’ lifestyle doesn’t quite rub off well on people who know the value of value; for these guys would say that if one of the most important things (values) in your life is classic cars (as opposed to the sense of status or prestige that a car brings), then spend your money on a car that would make you happy (because it’s essentially an investment in your happiness). Otherwise, 4 wheels, a gear box and a steering wheel with a roof and somewhere to sit is pretty much all you need. It could be worth gently broaching the subject with a person who you care for and love, about how much he or she might be fooling him/herself if unreasonably living beyond their means or living the aspiration of that lifestyle without it being the reality. For their wellbeing ultimately, that kind of conversation might lessen perception-based burdens so that they are further able to live more genuinely as themselves. It can also prevent wrongful behaviour toward them by others, since why would another person not be permitted to be disingenuous to a person who is so actively being disingenuous to him/herself? Would it not be better and even easier to simply change our perceptions, open our eyes and live in a spirit of gratitude?

Conclusion & take-away points

To conclude, what’s interesting about the view over my back garden is that only my neighbour to the right can actually see into our garden. And I do wonder whether the owner thinks the grass is greener over on our side. But the point is, he’d only really notice it if he actually cared, or if he wasn’t happy with his own turf. The other 3 neighbours’ gardens run adjacently along the length of our garden, and those houses are bungalows. So they have no idea what our garden looks like unless they used a ladder to purposely look into our garden! They’re all none-the-wiser!

So here’s 3 summary points that I would like to put across to you about the grass being greener on the other side and invite you to apply this analogy to whatever is in your life that needs some reconciliation: 

  1. Grass is only greener on the other side if we’re not grateful for our own patches in the first place. Living in a spirit of gratitude and acceptance is extremely liberating, and I highly encourage it!
  2. Grass is happiest with lots of water and good soil. The same principle is true for every aspect of your life. You can be happier if you are giving yourself what you really need. This is of course more objective than subjective. I promise you that if you think what you need is to eat a cake a day, then you’re not giving yourself what you really need! Make sure your hearts and minds are full of good soil and receive lots of water (for me, that vital element is prayer).
  3. You’ll be happy when you don’t compare your patch to your neighbours’, or pretend that you have a garden that is beyond your capability or capacity at the time! It’s important to aspire toward something whilst living your present moment and circumstances. You might not have the time nor the money to make your garden the best. But you really can be super happy with what you do have (even if you don’t have a garden), because it’s almost 100% guaranteed that whatever patch you do have would be someone else’s dream patch. Enjoying and making something of the patch you have is the best way of being grateful for it.


Question for you: what’s your little ‘patch’ that you keep comparing to others or feel that you’ve shown ingratitude toward? 

How to make the most of the new beginnings in your life

Life is full of precious moments in which we can, and in fact, must bring in change – in order to keep momentum up. The classic life cycle often patterns out to look like this:

  • the stumbling start: full of teething and accidental dip-falls, often due to incapacity or ignorance. This stage is full of learning and so ought to be steeped in reflection.
  • the rise and success: which often seems as though it may never end. Here, your morale, motivation and resources, energy and performance are at its highest. The results are showing, and are easy to shout about.
  • the plateau: stability and comfort often reign here, and it’s this stage that we are going to focus our attention on today
  • the eventual decay and collapse of that which was proving a success: the causes of this stage can be many, but some examples of the biggest influences on decay include distraction, external disasters, depletion of resources, depletion of ideas, loss of morale and change in values. When we examine closer, it’s often not these things themselves that collapse a good thing, but the human response to those things.

Let us apply this concept to the scenario of a new job. Even though it is possible to hit the ground running when landing a new job, there will still always be a few teething problems and mistakes might also be made. But focus on the responsibilities of the role, and provided the company culture, influential factors outside your control, your skillset and your commitment are all firmly in a good place, you’ll find yourself rising to the success of your role. 

When you are at the plateau of success, you will have many opportunities to reframe your thinking about where you’re at, and to transform any stagnancy into preparation for the next level. This might be anything from a promotion to a more senior level, to upskilling as a trainer, to embracing an entirely organic change that stemmed from a spark of interest you’ve garnered whilst mastering your trade but takes you down a completely different career path altogether. Whatever decision you make about your future success, know that the plateau would have been the key position that influenced the direction you take, and therefore, here are 5 important things to be aware of…

The plateau is not a time to become stagnant or comfortable

So you’ve gone through the stumbling start and you’ve risen to the top of your game. All is looking a success to you and those who need to see it recognise and reward. What is often not realised here, is that you’re now well into a habit or way of being/doing that is really working out for you – but this is unlikely to last forever. Yes, the past is gone, but at some point, another ‘new’ is about to start. Consider the plateau as a journey of re-patterning and preparation for that next upward climb (or rise and success). It is a fantastic time to grow, largely due to the fact that from a place of ‘comfort’ your resources, energy and high morale gives you breathing room for experimenting, innovating and testing – to see where you would be most happy at the next big stage. More about this in a bit.

The plateau is an opportunity to give a meaning to this opportunity you find yourself in

Keep moving, despite the success. Fine, do enjoy the moments and reap some of the benefits of having put in so much hard work that lead to the success – but turn this into a permanent convenience for yourself, and you may find yourself losing drive and meaning. This is the opportunity to look around (by this, comparing oneself to others is not part of that picture), look at new things, look at things differently, and legitimise opportunities that you find just by simply looking for them. Not only will the meaning of this phase become more meaningful for yourself, but it will become more meaningful for those impacted by your success. Get down your ‘WHY’, and know it and own it too!

The plateau allows you to adapt to your ‘future self’

There’s lots of room for trial and error without it costing you too much (provided you have thought about your experimentation strategically, in a way that suits your time, energy and resources), and it’s here you begin to skill up in adaptability, essentially preparing yourself for changes to come. Try some new routines; learn better ways of managing yourself – your emotions, your time, the expectations others have of you; figure out how to turn into solutions what has become adaptable to you. One of my all-time favourite words is ‘allostasis’. This, my friend, is allostasis, and it’s what I believe is the secret of resilience. A separate blog is written on allostasis [link]. Innovation and experimentation can do a lot for you here, because it serves your adaptability.

The plateau can be a lonely time

Intentional Connection with others is really important at this stage because revelling in one’s own success can be a very lonely event, despite the crowds surrounding you drinking champagne to you and your success. This is often a really good time to volunteer and to ‘give back’ in a way that allows you to share or teach others about how they can help themselves. Not only does it keep you grounded with two feet on the ground, but it also keeps you ‘real’ and connected. Many successful people fool themselves into thinking that they are ‘giving back’ by doing things and charging major bucks for it, but really, there is a profit in it for themselves. This is the opposite of ‘giving without expectation’ – and it keeps one humble. This is often real, human connection and is given in freedom and with authentic charity.

To overlook courage in the plateau phase is to become overly influenced by fear

There is a popular quote by Bridges: “Beginnings follow the timing of the mind and heart”. From this we can deduce three simple principles:

  1. A beginning may not be a beginning at all if fear has control over us.
  2. A beginning may not begin when it should, because fear has control over us.
  3. There may be no initial thought of a beginning, if fear has control over us. 

Living in a spirit of courage helps us to recognise the potential of new beginnings, when the time is right for us. We can come up with a lot of excuses when we want to. Which ones are genuine reasons the timing isn’t right, and which ones aren’t genuine reasons? It takes courage to decide which ones are genuine, because often, when we realise we’re only making excuses for ourselves, we must then act with courage, or surrender ourselves to cowardice and fear. 

In summary then, the ‘new beginning’ isn’t really the start of the cycle. The start relies on the preparation we had done before we ended up transitioning into the ‘new beginning’. We can really learn this lesson from horticulture. Many trees and plants blossom or flower before leaves and fruits appear. The grand strategy is that these plants put their food reserves into reproduction before all the other plants begin to grow, then spend the rest of the growing season focusing on growth and storing food for the winter. A mass of flowers that bloom together are likely to attract pollinating insects, and if at the same time there are no leaves then this facilitates wind pollination. After having been dormant or dead in the winter, the plant or tree is driven to survive and enforces its reproductive strategy as it wakes up. This happens before we can even consider what its success in fruitfulness would even look like. 

May your new beginnings be a journey that leads you from success to success! 

A perspective on commitment, heart-intimacy and boundaries in friendships.

When two people are *not* in a committed relationship, then it could be argued that the only commitment they have to each other is the commitment that one communicates and agrees to with the other and vice versa. Examples of such a commitment include doing an act of service for them, giving them a gift that they agreed to, organising a chat and/or meeting up for hugs or a meal with them. These kinds of activities are very tangible proofs and evidence of one’s commitment (provided they show up and keep their word)! Sometimes, commitment can be confused with loyalty to a friend. For example, if a friend has come to the defence of the other when they weren’t there, this belongs to the realm of loyalty rather than commitment. In contrast, when in a committed relationship, the context of the relationship is different, and itself *becomes* a commitment. A person now has another person to be faithful and committed to, and therefore the evidence of commitment needs more than scheduled activity (although it doesn’t necessarily have to rely on such activity as evidence or proof of fidelity). Until that point though, this notion of commitment isn’t a done deal. The gift of oneself to another in a non-committal relationship is going to be quite different from that of a relationship where two people have committed to becoming more intimate with each other. Note: I don’t mean sexual intimacy here, but rather, intimacy of the heart. In a friendship, commitment requires a more active and intentional communication since it is not automatically a given, and therefore should never be assumed or expected. 

So in friendship, what level of commitment should one expect? This all depends on the persons involved in that friendship, the different factors affecting that friendship, the experiences within that friendship and the overall intention / direction of that friendship. Friendships themselves can even vary greatly in terms of intimacy levels. I have found spiritual friendships with people who I have met in the last 3 years excel in intimacy compared with other friends who I have known since childhood! In fact, it is almost at the level of intimacy that a couple might experience within a spousal relationship, and yet, there is no intention there of moving beyond friendship – simply due to the factors affecting that relationship. With this in mind, I have to make sure that I have clear boundaries for myself, and ensure that is communicated in some effective and appropriate form to them (doesn’t need explicit explanation). Some of these friends I speak to every week, some once a month, and some once a year. We have commitments to one another in the form of scheduled Zoom calls and texts in between, but we are not committed to each other. That doesn’t mean to say however, that I would be disloyal! 

And what about those friends who drift in and out of our lives like a fortunate wind passing by? I’m sure we all have friends who we don’t speak to for years, but when we encounter each other, it’s as if we saw each other the day before and it seems natural and easy to reveal a certain degree of heart-intimacy! Would we be considered to be committed to each other? Not really! So it can be argued that commitment doesn’t equal intimacy.  

Let’s look at the practical level. If a friend’s general needs has increased, they may expect more from the friendship and from you. Self-knowledge is key here and it might help to communicate needs and wants with each other to help manage expectations. Disappointments and hurts often occur because of a lack of communication regarding our hopes and expectations of the other person. Take a friend who is in a crisis situation as an example. They might need a friend to be there for them when things are really tough. But how much should be expected of that friend? The different factors that affect the friendship can’t be ignored. If that friend is already in a committed relationship with a natural support network close-by (e.g. their spouse, children, siblings, parents, wider family network), then it’s really important that neither party cross boundaries. I do believe that part of being in a committed relationship means sharing all of life’s lows and highs with the persons you are committed to. This is perhaps why setting healthy emotional boundaries for oneself about how much one ought to share with people outside of that immediate committed relationship is worth establishing. With commitment, comes great sacrifices, and one of those sacrifices, in my opinion, is about willingly offering up and exercising your liberty of choosing to share deeply intimate things with others for the sake of the greater cause that your committed relationship (e.g. a marriage) is meant to fulfil. Maybe sometimes we can forget that love is not for our self-gratification – it exists for the sake of others. The same can be said for our freedom. In essence, it is a just act to do what is good and right toward the person(s) who you are primarily committed to. For a committed person, sharing the right amount of intimacy with the right people about the right things outside of that commitment often needs quick and strong decision-making skills – and this tends not to a priority when the heart is so emotionally charged or in need. The notion of emotional boundaries within friendships is seriously worth considering further if one is in a committed relationship. Attraction is such a powerful force that could wreak havoc in both friendships and committed relationships. This is another blog post for another time though!

For now, I’ll finish off this post by saying that friendships don’t have to be ‘easy’. Sometimes, we are meant to have difficult friends in our lives to deal with. They help us grow, learn, and become better people ourselves. In practice, we can really choose how much effort we want to commit to our friendships, but there’s no one single guideline for how friendships ought to be. We are all human beings living in different circumstances and have different life experiences and different perspectives. Every one of our friendships is a gift. Some we will cherish more than others. Some are there because it is the right time for it and it serves the right purpose. Let that help us to review the commitment, level of heart-intimacy and emotional boundaries we have in those friendships, and take appropriate action where necessary.


I’m Claz, a personal health & career coach as well as a massage therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com or https://bodybalanceldn.wordpress.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.

Gift-giving at its finest

There is a saying that we can’t give what we don’t have. On a human level, I have mixed feelings about this statement.

What is our understanding of ‘gift’? 

Gift does not mean ‘exchange’. When ‘gift’ becomes ‘exchange’, it loses its unconditional quality – a quality that is natural to authentic love. The idea of gift is that it is symbolic of deeper truths – truths which are commonly invisible. A gift is normally used as an expression or a manifestation of love; love being invisible. When offering a gift to someone, what truth are we really wanting to communicate and to make ‘real’ to them? Giving freely and without ties (translates into offering, and not a mandatory requirement to accept) is to pour out of our inner abundance, that which gifts are intended to represent and also to honour in another. That is, that the person deserves to be loved for the sake of simply being. Nothing more and nothing less. The freedom to give and to receive comes from that interior space in us that no external power has any control over unless it has already been given reign in the heart. If you have surrendered it to something or someone else, reclaim it back. In reality, we actually need very little and all of us equally have the freedom to receive or reject a gift that is being offered to us. Your interior freedom is of itself, a gift that has been offered to you. It’s up to you to accept it, and to use it wisely.

Managing expectations

Is there an expectation there that the receiver must return the same sentiments to us? Are we anticipating that the receiver must accept our gift in the first place? If we offer ourselves, our gifts, money, time to someone with hidden expectation or veiled conditions, we levy an abolishment in the freedom of the other person to freely accept our offer of the gift on our part. Every human being ought to be given their freedom to accept or reject a gift, in the order of love. Conditional offers are made from our limited inner resources and are a result of an inner need, which, if left unsatisfied, could wreak all sorts of havoc on our emotional, social and psychological wellbeing. Maturing the act of gift-giving from conditional to unconditional is do away with those expectations and give from inner abundance. We can do very little to manage the expectations of others – how they give and receive their gifts, but we are totally in control of the expectations we ourselves have about the way we give and receive gifts. A genuine, mature act of gift-giving is approached not as an exchange, but as an offering with no strings attached. This includes letting the memory of giving your gift go.

Giving in freedom

How do we identify the freedom of the gift being given or received? The spirit of gifting is to offer freely and without expectation. To give without any conditions to the gift or in the act of giving is to crystalise the motivation behind the gift. The purity of this motivation is worth so much more than the gift itself. Often times, we don’t recognise, and we do even less to acknowledge it, in each other. We don’t need to have much, to be able to recognise depth of gift when one is in front of us.

Gift is you, not what you own.

You are a gift. You are a gift to all the people in your life. You are a gift to society. You are a gift that cannot be replaced or exchanged. Your ability to be a gift to others, although impacted by your past, is not determined by it. No matter what difficulties you have experienced in your life, you still have the capacity within yourself to give so much more than you have ever received. This is why what you own or possess has no bearing on your value (worth) or efficacy as a gift. It is our human calling to appreciate the gift that is YOU and every human being. Some of us are called to go out of our way to make sure the lonely, the marginalised, the excluded and the isolated in society know that. 

Society pressurises us into a consumer pattern of Christmas presents, which emphasises the need to buy, and that if we don’t buy, there might be a problem. When will it be enough for us to appreciate each other as the gifts that we are to each other? If I don’t own much, does that mean I am less worthy of being a gift than the next person? Not at all. When I die, I’m not going to be appreciated much for what I own, but for the person I was. My worth is not determined by what I own or possess. You too, are invited to recognise yourself as a gift. For this spell in time, we, and the world, has YOU. And this Christmas, I want to thank you for being you. Even if not in person, our circumstances mean that we have crossed paths. We are still connected.

Outside of Christianity, I find the fulness of these truths difficult to explain. In my life experience, I can reflect that if I give, it is because I have first been given – but that might not have come from any human or natural source. No, we can’t give what we don’t have on a natural level. But we can give from what we always receive on a supernatural level: love. On that level, I have received Jesus Christ, my greatest love. And He is all I freely offer to you this Christmas.

Wishing you a wonderful peace-filled Christmas and New Year.

Claz.

The power of forgiveness to set us free

We’ve all heard the saying: to err is human, to forgive, divine. Forgiveness is perhaps the most powerful healing force possible, yet so few are acutely aware of or in touch with this interior power, and even fewer are truly transformed by it. I suppose this is one of the reasons why I run a Forgiveness, Healing and Freedom workshop. I want every single human being to know that no matter what, each of us has the power to forgive and experience its transformational capability. 

Interestingly, I began to put together the workshop on forgiveness, because every single time I ran a love languages workshop (for details about the next workshop, see my events page), there was often a huge barrier presenting in some attendees’ capacity to love authentically. The symptoms show in feelings of resentment, hostility, anger, and hatred toward another person, or system, or body of people (whether outwardly or subtly); and there is only one antidote to this blockage: forgiveness. 

For love to be authentic, it needs to be both given and received in freedom. So when there is something holding a person captive from acting genuinely in love, a process (or what I prefer to call a journey of growth) needs to take place. Forgiveness is just one of these stages (similar to any experience of change), as is the stage of interior healing, and then of course, freedom. At this point can love be given and received fully, without barriers and with a purity that would demonstrate the brilliance of love itself. I like to think of the aura around this love being peace, although I note these as two different things. 

It is impossible to avoid being hurt by others. Even those of us with faith know a certain painfulness of developing an intimate relationship with God that in more advanced stages feels like rejection and abject hurt. This is an arena that I study in my own time and if you ever want to converse with me about that, feel free to drop me a line. But as human beings, even these moments of clemency can transform us from being bitter and repressive to joy-filled and free. Regardless of whether the other person who has hurt us apologises, shows remorse, or is deemed deserving of our mercy, the gift and journey of forgiveness has its highest value first and foremost in the one who has been hurt. The ripple effect of that ultimate ‘letting go’ finds benefit in everyone around them, including the person who offended, as a secondary outcome. This is the most perfect route of forgiveness.

At the same time, the importance of worth comes into the picture. Whilst some of the people I work with come to terms with what it is they have to ‘let go’ of, others are approaching me to help them temper their capacity to forgive as they are finding themselves (in their own words) being a ‘pushover’. Interestingly, for people who consider themselves a pushover, it’s not the area of forgiveness that needs work. In fact, it seems to me they got that spot on. It could be that there is some work to be done in the healing arena, and a deeper diagnosis would be necessary to identify that. But certainly, for someone who feels like a pushover there will be some work to be done in the freedom stage of the journey. The journey ought to end in authentic mutuality of love – given and received freely. Freedom exists for the sake of love and is unquestionably different to this concept and lifestyle of ‘license’, which skews and warps the very truth of love itself. Nobody has any right to treat another as a pushover, unless they have been given license to do so. Understanding and practising freedom rightly enables authentic love to take place.

The journey to love can be a very difficult one, yes – a journey of valleys and mountains influencing our emotions and logic. But I’d like you all to remember that every journey takes time. Love needs its time. Perhaps this message is especially for one of my readers who simply needs to learn the art of waiting in hopeful anticipation for love to takes its course. Come to know that point of peace that spurs you into good acts void of resentment, hostility, anger and hatred. And if you’d like to walk through the process, then you’re welcome to join my next forgiveness, healing and freedom workshop taking place in summer 2021 (date tbc)!

Love, Claz.


I’m Claz, a Life & Career Coach working with individuals as well as organisations, accredited in the UK. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page. I am also a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London and treatments can be booked on my scheduling site.

Next level interview tips not commonly found on the internet

(in no particular order)

You’re already worth ££££s!!!

In 2020, it costs an employer on average, £3k to recruit someone into a role. If you have been invited to an interview, accept that your success in being shortlisted means that the interviewing panel will have already seen value in you on paper. Approaching an interview believing and proving that you are worth every penny of that spend will have an impact on how you perform at the interview. Remember: They wouldn’t have brought you this far if they didn’t find you worth a £3000 risk!

Unfair recruitment

If at any point you feel that you have been unfairly treated or discriminated against, go straight onto the ACAS website for further advice.

Confidence

Interviewees often forget this: the company needs you, just as much, or even more so, than you need the company. Sometimes, interviewees attend interviews with a kind of desperation for the job. If the interviewee has been applying for jobs for some time now and has faced rejection after rejection, they might also bring that sense of defeatism into their interview performance. Trust me, recruiters can sense if you are simply desperate for *any* job at this stage. Approach your interview believing you are there to fill in the gap that they really need filled in – in other words, that they need you, and you’re there to help them out! Due to what is essentially a power-shift, this approach and attitude will boost your confidence massively in an interview and will help you perform to your best.

The company/organisation have a mission and a purpose to fulfil. How much have you bought into / are you invested in their vision? Are you entirely sure that their values align with yours? If so, don’t be afraid to briefly drop elements of that part of yourself into the interview. In fact, if this company/organisation is geared toward fulfilling a purpose that you strongly resonate with and are yourself passionate about, don’t be afraid to show your passion and enthusiasm for their goals. Passion speaks for a lot in interviews, and some of the best recruiters do recruit on potential more than experience, provided the passion and drive to excel in achieving the mission and purpose is there. However, if you aren’t that passionate about the employer’s mission, then please, don’t fake it. It comes across badly at interviews. P.S. this often triple-ticks the ‘company research’ box.

Be confident but not arrogant or cocky. 

Interview content

Answer the questions the interviewer is asking you. This is very important. This requires first that you listen very carefully to their question, deciphering what information the interviewer is wanting from you. For example, if you are asked the question ‘What did you learn from that experience?’, telling them how you learned something isn’t answering the question. You need to provide the employer evidence that you meet their criteria. Waffling on with irrelevant information will not only set your chances of landing the role back, but it will also take up precious time you need to ask your own questions.

If the interviewer is asking you to retell lived experiences of a certain situation or scenario, then start off with the experiences that you feel highlight your value the most in their eyes. The job description will reveal to you what that is! Usually, employers will most value the experience you gained in a work capacity. If you’re lacking that level of experience, then go through your voluntary and community-based experiences, finally giving personal experiences – being very mindful of how much and what you are revealing about yourself and your private life.

If you are not recruited…

Always ask for feedback.

DO something with that feedback. Learn from it. Write down what you learned from the interview and the whole process. What did you learn about the process itself? What did you learn about the company/industry? What did you learn about the people involved? What did you learn about yourself? What needs to change?

Once you’ve put down your lessons in writing, let the interview GO. Take from that whole experience what you need to take from it and move on. Failure to do this is only setting yourself up for self-sabotage. Take these learnings into a reflection activity. Or even bring them to a career coach, who can help you decide what decisions you have to make moving forward. As a saying goes: Everything in life happens as a lesson or as a blessing. My advice is: just strive to transform all your work-related lessons into a hope-filled blessing.


If you are recruited…

Still, write down everything your learned. You learn as much from your successes as you learn from your trials. Sure, you don’t grow as much from success as you grow through trial and failure, but that doesn’t mean you don’t learn something. Put it down in writing because this contributes toward your personal and professional development reviews and planning.


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I’m Claz, a Life & Career Coach working with individuals as well as organisations, accredited in the UK. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page. I am also a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London and treatments can be booked on my scheduling site.

Do you have what it takes to change?

Change is happening all around us. It’s also happening in us and to us. All the time. Yet, now, more than ever, we are visibly seeing change accentuated in such a way as to now recognise it, or at least recognise its impact – that we may prepare and act more effectively and proficiently towards it. 

Some of us have lost loved ones to Covid-19. The loss of another human being in our life can emotionally and psychologically turn us upside down, potentially creating huge changes in every wellbeing key in our life. Our ways of working and living may have changed because of external factors that are beyond our control. Brexit is on its way – are we really preparing ourselves for the foreseeable change it may bring to us in the UK, or even in Europe?

For me, growth is demanding me to change my business model, resulting in a split in my holistic therapy services from my coaching services. The foreseeable hard work is a little daunting, yes, but Touch of Clarity shall allow me to personally continue coaching determined individuals to create impacting and sustainable change in their lives giving my new business room to liberate many more life-lovers & health enthusiasts from physiological underperformance. I’m focused on my goal, which has always been to help people within my capacity. The change required is simply the ‘how’ of it. 

Here are 7 traits that help people adapt more readily to change. See how you do with these…

Adaptability: Adaptability includes two elements: flexibility and resilience. Flexible people have goals and dreams like everyone else, but they’re not overly invested in them. When something doesn’t work out, they’ll say, “Plan A doesn’t work, let’s go to Plan B.” Resilience is the capacity to rebound from adversity quickly with a minimum of trauma. Failure or mistakes do not limit or stop adaptable people from continuum. 

Resourcefulness: Resourceful people are effective at taking the most of any situation and developing plans and contingencies using whatever resources are available to them at the time. They see multiple ways to achieve a goal, and they’ll think ‘out of the box’ in order to find help. Resourcefully creative people have a real talent for inventing new ways to solve old problems. 

Optimism: Optimism is highly correlated with change readiness. Optimists naturally recognise opportunities and possibilities whilst the pessimist’s natural inclination is to remain paralysed with problems and obstacles. The enthusiasm and positive outlook of an Optimist is founded on an abiding faith in the future and the belief that things usually work out for the best. 

Confidence: If optimism is the view that a situation will work out, confidence is the belief in your own ability to handle it. There is situational confidence: “I know I can swim across this channel, learn this program, write this report”. And there’s self-confidence: “I can handle whatever comes my way.” 

Adventurousness: Two ingredients capture this adventurous spirit: the inclination to take risks and the desire to pursue the unknown. Adventurous people love a challenge. Since change always involves both risk and the unknown, they usually perform well during major situations requiring change. 

Tolerance for Ambiguity: The offspring of change is uncertainty. No matter how carefully you plan it, there is always an element of indefiniteness or ambiguity. Without a healthy tolerance for ambiguity, change is not only uncomfortable; it’s downright scary. 

Passion / Drive: Passion is the fuel that maximizes all the other traits. If you have passion, nothing appears impossible. If you don’t, change is exhausting. Passion is the individual’s level of personal dynamism. It shows up in a person’s level of intensity and determination. 

To make a new procedure/process/lifestyle work, to overcome the myriad of problems that any plan for change unwittingly produces, you’ve got to have passion and enthusiasm. 

As with all traits, it’s not about reaching extremes with them. If we have too much of the trait, we may lack certain skills and/or attitudes needed to get us through the change. It’s the same if we present with too little of the same trait. This is where a change coach really comes in handy, as they can identify quite quickly where there are imbalances in certain traits. There are multiple ways of identifying that: the coaching conversation is, of course, the best way, but there are also assessments that help with this too. 

Learning Emotional Intelligence according to your Learning Style

Learning Emotional Intelligence according to your Learning Style

I’ve recently been engaging in a few Emotional Intelligence (henceforth EI) conversations on LinkedIn and it dawned in me that it might be helpful for people to see some tips for learning emotional intelligence according to their learning styles. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you already know what your learning style is. If you don’t already know what it is, the diagram to the right, which is based on Honey & Mumford Learning Style theories will help you determine what it (or they, if you have a blended approach to learning) is.

The next thing is to understand what EI is and which EI model is being referring to below. Salovey & Mayer (1990), prominent researchers in the field of EI defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s own thinking and action”. This line of work has helped us to understand that people vary in their capacity to recognise, comprehend, utilise, communicate and manage emotions and that these differences influence people’s performance in a variety of contexts, including relationships and work.

In 1999, Salovey, Mayer and Caruso developed a model that considers one’s ability as a set of competencies within the parameters of the above definition. This Ability Model presents 4 domains:

  • The ability to perceive emotions
  • The capacity to use emotions to facilitate thinking
  • The ability to understand emotions
  • The ability to manage (or regulate) emotions

The most recent model of emotional intelligence was developed by Petrides and his team in 2007 and consists of four components:

  • Wellbeing: Confidence & self-esteem, optimism, and happiness
  • Sociability: Social competence & awareness, assertiveness, and the capacity to manage other people’s emotions
  • Self-control: Stress management, low impulsivity, adaptability, self-motivation, and emotion regulation
  • Emotionality: Emotional perception of oneself and others, emotion expression, relationship, and conveying empathy.

It is this model, the Trait Emotional Intelligence model that I’m applying the Learning Styles to. Let’s explore how emotional intelligence can be learned according to your learning style. 

For the ACTIVISTS among you

The best way for activists to learn to perceive emotions, improve capacity to use emotions for thinking, and understand and manage emotions, is by experiencing these things personally and absorbing the lessons presented experientially. When those things are lived out in daily life or a life event, activists are better able to connect dots in their minds and hearts that were once hypothetical or assumptions-based about their emotional intelligence. Turning their personal EI into a life project or short-term practical assignment that is measurable and tangibly impactful is the most natural way for activists to develop those skills. Activists are generally self-development oriented, so they’ve got this motivation behind them.

A draw back with this learner style is that activists tend to look for the next big challenge without really having reflected on the learning from the previous lesson. Once this blind-spot has been recognised, it’s really important for the activist to take their time to reflect well, instill deep in themselves all the learning that they took out of those lessons, and to figure out how they can translate that learning into actions that improve their wellbeing, sociability, self-control and emotionality in the future. 

Here’s a few ideas for activists:

  • Take the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (short version) (you’ll need to make a £30 donation to the company) and then see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Decide what you might want to develop. Self-analysis is very important to do every 1-3 years of our life.
  • Seek feedback from others in order to gain wider perspective. You might come to an emotional conclusion on something that another has not come to the same emotional conclusion on. This requires real two-way communication.
  • This one will take a lot of humility, but it’s a super effective one: ask others to give you their opinion on your reactions to things. You will learn an awful lot, or an awful lot will be affirmed for you! This will serve to educate your self-control as well as your emotionality.
  • Perseverance is key for you to reach that potential for growth in emotional intelligence. Where the temptation is to skip onto the next thing that you might be good or better at, you are in the here and now… so don’t lose out on this opportunity that could potentially be a game-changer for you in the future. Think ‘slow down, reflect & absorb’.
  • Take responsibility for how you’ve made others feel. Then put into practice your action points. Here’s where you up your sociability game.
  • Connect with your own emotions, come to understand them in your inner reality and accept that they exist. People have different ways of doing that. My way is to shrug my shoulders, smile and say… OK! Well to wellbeing, I say!

For the REFLECTORS among you

Reflectors learn primarily through observing credible and experienced role-models. The method that works best for them is in-person but standing back from the action and pondering from the sidelines. They like to discuss reflections and plans with a mentor who they feel can walk the talk. Having said that, reflectors surprisingly also pick up these lessons from books, articles and case studies. As the most cautious and most reluctant risk-takers of all four types of learners, reflectors tend to come to emotional conclusions after they have had a good, long and thorough think-through of the situation, collecting and analysing as much data about the experience or event in order to come to the most informed decision possible. Is it any wonder they tend to make the best listeners, and be the last to speak in meetings and discussions! They’re often the last to jump to conclusions or make rash judgements too.

Because of their extremely cautious nature, reflectors may delay their learning in emotional intelligence. This is mainly due to the foreseeable risk-taking involved in being emotionally intelligent. Reflectors will understand well that emotional intelligence is proven in practice.

Here’s a few ideas for reflectors:

  • Start. Just start. Trust in your own abilities to learn along the way. Once you’ve started, don’t stop. Build up your courage to keep going. Learning by mistake is a much better outcome, than by not learning at all.
  • Approach role models for their stories and/or ask friends, family, acquaintances to share with you how they learned to manage risks, build confidence, become socially aware, develop self-control and regulate their emotions.
  • Watch YouTube videos on the subject.
  • Observe yourself as much as you observe others. Since reflectors generally love taking notes, note down how you react to people and how you make judgements about a situation. Reflectors tend to do really well with journaling.
  • Learn more about risk management.
  • Use your wonderful observational and reflection skills to spin the mirror on yourself. What are you learning about yourself? What needs working on, or a different approach? If there is a blockage on self-reflection: a) imagine this experience took place in third person (don’t habitualise this though) and write down your learnings, and b) address the inability to self-reflect.
  • Self-evaluate against the 2007 EI components above.

For the THEORISTS among you

Concepts. Theorists love to understand and rationalise concepts. Consider concepts and theories as the foundational building blocks to a Theorist’s learning. Anything nonsensical is often anathema to a Theorist, and therein lies a potentially huge problem since some of the most acute emotions we experience are seldom logical! So emotions can become a problem to be solved in the Theorist – and they’re likely to do that through theory-based courses with well-qualified and experienced trainers, well-written manuals or books and articles. Our Theorist friends are the most analytical and rationalistic of all four learning types because of how much they naturally value principles, theories, models and systems thinking. 

The greatest struggle for the Theorist when it comes to learning emotional intelligence is the two-way blind-spot of assimilation. Firstly, the theorist may automatically separate one’s own personal experience from the analysis – as if it were a hypothetical situation. Take for example, grief. To learn and grow from grief requires a genuine lived and felt experience of every nuance that comes as part and parcel of grief. Theorising the situation removes from it authentic human experience. Sometimes, the human experience is beyond theory and logic, so must be lived rather by mystery and what is super (above/beyond) – natural: supernatural. Secondly, should the theorist be able to rationalise the experience into a logical scheme and thought, the risk is to leave it as such, and not use this new-found knowledge to learn about oneself, and to reach the deep human lesson of the self from it. The potential detachment between theory and lived experienced, and discomfort caused by subjective judgement is something that theorists need to watch out for in their learning.

Here’s a few ideas for theorists:

  • Spend time, on occasion, focusing solely on knowing yourself. I’ll repeat that. Knowing yourself. Not rationalising yourself. Just… knowing yourself. There is a greater intimacy between knowing a person and rationalising a person. EI is personable. Yes, it might be unnatural at first… but build a routine habit of it. Getting to know yourself will be a huge step in learning EI.
  • Get in touch with your perception of the world – living and non-living things. This will boost your wellbeing and emotionality levels.
  • Yes, facts and the objective is very, very important. In fact, it’s critical. But so is the subjective experience – otherwise, how can one say something is ‘real’? Philosophers have spent many years exploring the balance between the intellect (the guiding force behind rational thought) and the will (the guiding force behind subjective experience).
  • Theorise on this: Realist Phenomenology
  • Find a way to systemise or analyse your emotional reactions over a longer period of time. Study the data, what does it reveal to you?
  • Even though you may be able to detach your subjective experience from a logical occurrence, it doesn’t mean that others can do that as easily. If for example at some point you’re perceived as ‘indifferent’ or ‘uncaring’, this is a sign or a signal that someone else’s feelings have been triggered or impacted by your actions or words at a deep emotional level.
  • Take responsibility for your words and actions, and make efforts to listen ‘to the heart’ of the people in your life. Learn to be sincere in your apologies.

For the PRAGMATISTS among you

Pragmatists who actively develop their EI are their own real-life project and are perhaps the most keen of all learning types on self-development and self-growth. Transforming their learning into practical use is one of a pragmatist’s greatest strengths, and this is why they greatly value the help of someone who gives valuable feedback and coaching. Knowledge can’t just remain theoretical to the pragmatist… they’ll want to see it brought to life in practice, and enjoy trying out new things, new ideas and experimenting. So when it comes to learning EI, they are generally open to constructive criticism and tend to be more open to change in themselves. Pragmatists really do thrive on knowledge and have a special love of learning. Others who support pragmatists would be encouraged to champion the energy and excitement of some new idea or project proposal that has generated a speed of action, confidence and motivation. They’re fast learners and fast movers generally though – so supporters can equally be encouraged to help pragmatists pause for a moment and consider all option.

The danger of the pragmatist is that they can enjoy experimenting so much, that they risk bringing this ‘experimentation’ into their most valuable and important relationships, doing some serious damage along the way. In order to progress and develop themselves, pragmatists might be willing to, or adopt an attitude of, using or ignoring the other person to achieve this. The warning signs of this are when the subjective reality (the feelings and experience) of the other person is no longer of concern to the pragmatist. This is when the pragmatist has the most amount of learning and self-reflection to do! Having said that, they are real natural problem-solvers, and an emotionally developed pragmatist will have both the knowledge and the means to restore relationships (at least from their end). 

Here’s a few ideas for pragmatists:

  • Know that a lot of decision-making is pragmatic for you. Sometimes, this isn’t always the best course of action. Consider other options on occasion too, before taking action.
  • Take the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (short version) (you’ll need to make a £30 donation to the company) and then see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Decide what you might want to develop. Self-analysis is very important to do every 1-3 years of our life.
  • Attend an EI course or workshop.
  • Have a long-term coach in your life who will help you increase your awareness of personal wellbeing, sociability, self-control and emotionality. Hire a coach specifically for this, and watch your EI growth accelerate! 
  • Don’t forget to examine your reactions to distressing situations. Develop action plans for mitigating risks in making same mistakes over and over.
  • Check in on your emotional wellbeing for yourself, but also through the feedback and opinion of those closest to you.
  • Accept that you’ll always be a work-in-progress (WIP)!
  • Build in a routine of ‘preparatory work’ into the early stages of your learning journey. Ask yourself: “how will my actions affect others?” “How will my decision impact others?” “How can I help others manage the impact of my decision?” 
  • Remember that we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves. Other people aren’t problems to be solved, but human beings to be loved.

I’ve opened up this post for comments and discussion! Feel free to share your thoughts, corrections, opinions, suggestions etc! 


I’m Claz, a Life & Career Coach working with individuals as well as organisations, accredited in the UK. I am also a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.