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Claire N. Barnes, MA Headshot

What's Your Boomer EQ? Part 2

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On July 24, 2014, I posted Part 1 of this five part series, an online tutorial on the value of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). I propose Boomers can be effective users of EQ given their life experience and knowledge gleaned after years of interactions with others.

Enough struggling!

Having lived through raising families, challenging careers, complex economies, divorces - remarriages - divorces, health difficulties, and so on, 50+ Boomers merit harmony in their lives.

The working definition of EQ has been simplified somewhat to inspire a lay reader. EQ is the value of people understanding themselves and how they react in situations, then using that understanding to improve their relationships with others. Recognizing that EQ raises the performance levels of people when their relationships are successful, Emotional Intelligence has been adapted for use by educational systems, social services, counselors and therapists, the military and governmental agencies.

EQ is accessible to anyone.

Part 1: Know Yourself was explained in detail here:

Part 2: Manage Yourself encourages managing upsetting feelings so they don't manage you. Here are some effective strategies:

The Six Second Pause Contemporary brain science suggests that when confronted with a difficult situation, our emotions kick in immediately. (Ref: .) Often compared to the fight/flight response, humans are designed to respond in order to keep themselves safe. Like a runner who jumps the starting gun in a footrace, our emotions jump out ahead of our intellect or ability to reason. Someone cuts you off in traffic.....flip 'em the middle finger. An ex-partner sends you an angry quickly send an equally angry response in BOLD ALL CAPS. Someone cuts in front of you in the market check-out create a scene in the store.

It takes six seconds for our intellect to catch up with our emotions. By counting to six, you buy time to use your ability to reason and react without raising your blood pressure. Try it. Giving yourself time to calm down will take that knot out of your gut.

Do It Differently This advice seems so simple, but after 50+ years of behavior imprinting on your brain, it's often a struggle to find alternatives to typical situations. Here's a personal example. My husband and I lived in San Francisco for eighteen years. He hates (HATES!) to parallel park and the anticipation of doing so can be upsetting to him. His alternatives were: take the bus; I would drive; go to his destination when he could anticipate there would be other parking. There is always an alternative option and if you put your mind to it, you can find one.

Is It a Big Deal? My (third) husband and I will celebrate our eighteenth anniversary soon. I have evolved in life to realize that irritating topics and annoyances which bothered me twenty-five or thirty years ago, are really no big deal today. Also, I don't have the need to be right when we disagree. Harmony in more important in our home than winning arguments over prickly irritations. When I literally feel my ego driving my position in a disagreement, I often acknowledge 'it's no big deal' if we have different viewpoints. This is critical as we are spending more time together in retirement.

Time to revisit the friend I referenced in Part 1 of this series. Susan is a mature, accomplished retiree who divorced her ex over twenty years ago. She still becomes upset and anxious if she has to see her ex at family gatherings or other social occasions. She used to avoid these situations whenever possible disappointing her adult children and grandchildren.

But over the years, she has learned to Manage Herself by:
1) Taking a friend along for unconditional moral support
2) Explaining to her adult children she still has hurt feelings associated with the divorce and soliciting their understanding if she leaves early (or arrives later) to limit contact with her ex
3) Keeping a journal to memorialize her growth in interacting with her ex.

The last strategy - a journal - led Susan to grow in her ability to be around her ex. She changed......he didn't. Her anxieties diminished and she was able to enjoy her children and grandchildren even in his presence.

Part 3 Motivation for healthy feelings will be the topic for next week. In the meantime, practice counting to six and managing upsetting emotions. You deserve peace and tranquility in your life.

This Blog was first published here: