for better emotional intelligence article by psychologist Brad Everton

For Better Emotional Intelligence… Stop Doing This One Thing

Today’s article centres around solution-focused therapy, emotional intelligence, and developing a problem-solving approach.

You see… there is one common behaviour we need to stop doing, particularly when aiming to solve a problem. Thing is… many of us are guilty of this behaviour. Not only is it important to look out for this behaviour in other people but particularly to develop self-awareness – looking for this behaviour in ourselves. 

Emotional Intelligence solves problems

Emotional intelligence is being able to understand and manage our emotions positively to overcome challenges and solve problems.

And when aiming to solve a problem, we need to stop doing this one thing. Denial. Because it’s a negative behaviour. And it will hold you back in your problem-solving. It will stop you from moving forward, and most importantly, it will keep you off track for good. 

When we are in denial, there’s just no way of moving forward. There’s not much that any other human being can do for another person who is in denial. 

Denial is having the mindset of, “I have nothing to answer, it’s not my problem, what problem?”

Denial is often linked to the mindset of blame and excuses – it’s everybody else’s fault, it’s not my fault. 

And if we’re honest with ourselves, in many respects denial is lying to ourselves when it comes to moving forward in our life. We’ve all been in denial at some point when it comes to solving particular problems in the different areas of our lives. 

I believe we are often in denial to protect our egos. Our understanding and thinking are that if we were to own up to a problem, it might mean that we’re not perfect. It might mean that we’re not as good as we think we are. Or we think others are going to look at us in a bad way. We often think that by being in denial we’re protecting our self-esteem and our self-worth; if I were to acknowledge I’ve got a problem, well now I’m being vulnerable.

I also believe a lot of this happens at the unconscious level.  It’s become habitual.

So what are the benefits of avoiding denial? This is why self-awareness is important. It’s important for us to all have a good look at ourselves from time to time and ask:

“Am I guilty of being in denial when it comes to moving forward in my life and solving problems?”

This is where a solution-focused approach is key. 

And as we know, it’s not about IF life is going to throw problems and hurdles at us, it’s WHEN. 

If we can address our denial, it will also help us to solve our problems in less time. The longer we stay in denial, the longer it’s going to take to solve a problem. 

It’s also important to avoid turning this behaviour of denial into a character flaw. A character flaw is where it’s something I do continually. And the worst-case scenario is I’m known for it – my friends, my family, and my work colleagues know me for that particular characteristic that I portray about myself. Because denial is not a positive personality trait! But we are all guilty of it from time to time. This is why improving self-awareness and developing a problem-solving approach are so important. 

Increase Your Emotional Intelligence With the Antidote to Denial

So, what are the fundamental things that we need to do when it comes to experiencing problems in our lives? I want to encourage people to become better at acknowledging problems. If you think about it, it’s the antidote to denial. Denial can be likened to burying your head in the sand…

“I don’t want to face it.”

emotional intelligence antidote psychological skills article

But if I acknowledge and accept I have a problem, well now I can do something about it.

If you can acknowledge that you’ve got a problem, pat yourself on the back because now you can do something about it. This is the first step! And to develop a solution-focused approach, we all need to take that first step. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And then obviously we do need to take a second and a third, and so on. 

If we can identify denial in others, now we might be able to encourage them to acknowledge their problems. But most importantly, even as a role model, start practising it yourself and start acknowledging and accepting whatever problem it is that you’re aiming to address. This will put you on track to start moving forward. And if you can apply this problem-solving approach to small problems, it will also allow you to do it for the big problems. 

So, start with the smaller problems. If it’s something you recognise you’ve been doing for some time, and you’re in denial, and you’re blaming, or you’re filled with excuses, this could also be connected to the victim mentality. And we want to avoid that type of thinking. 

When it comes to problem-solving strategies and developing self-awareness, it’s important to stop doing this one thing – stop being in denial! 

Remember, it takes a person to be vulnerable in terms of acknowledging and accepting, “I’m not perfect.” 

I’d also encourage you to look at it in terms of strength and courage – I can accept and acknowledge that I’ve got a particular problem that needs to be addressed, and now I want to work on it. It is the first step to developing a solution-focused approach. 

So, what problem will you acknowledge and start working on today? 

Give yourself a pat on the back. One, for acknowledging it. And two, for making the commitment and making the decision that “I’m going to start working on it today.”

May you have an on-track day 😊

Brad Everton – International Author and Psychologist Sunshine Coast Australia