Developing both could be the key to your personal and professional success.
Almost every week, I get a question from someone asking me about the difference between emotional intelligence and mental strength. It's a great question because there are many misconceptions about what it means to be mentally strong and myths about how to develop emotional intelligence.
The Definition of Emotional Intelligence?
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Term papers and problem sets don't prepare you to tackle these real-world challenges.
Graduation season is behind us, which means the parties, speeches, and frantic search for first jobs have mostly ended. For recent grads now begins the the hard work of actually learning how to make your way in the world as a young professional.
You've no doubt already noticed that can be terrifying and confusing (if also exciting). Why? Because while college no doubt taught you how to write a term paper, calculate problem sets, and polish a resume, there are a ton of essential life and career skills that school just can't teach you.
The good news is that everyone is in the same boat as you (even if they're better at faking confidence). And the even better news is that there are a whole lot of resources out there that can get you up to speed on these skills quickly and with a minimum of stress and embarrassment. Here's what the experts suggest you focus on.
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We invest a lot of time in teaching young people to be academically prepared, but we often overlook the skills they really need to succeed.
Parents, teachers, and coaches dedicate their days to preparing kids for the challenges of life after high school. They devote countless hours to ensuring kids can score high and perform well in today's cutting-edge world.
But there's one set of valuable skills adults aren't teaching kids--emotional skills. And perhaps those are the most important skills of all, because no matter how smart or athletic a child is, that child will never succeed without mental strength.
What college students wish their parents had taught them.A 2015 nationwide survey of 1,502 college students revealed that 60 percent wished they had gotten more help with emotional preparation for college.
Emotional preparedness includes the ability to:
The survey revealed that young people who felt the least emotionally prepared were more likely to have lower GPAs. They were also more likely to take a leave of absence after their first term.
Without adequate skills to cope with uncomfortable feelings, they were also more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to help them numb emotional pain. And despite the fact that the majority of students were struggling, 45 percent of them felt as though "everyone has college figured out but me."
Emotional challenges reach beyond academics.The college students who participated in the survey said their stress reached far beyond academics--so it's likely that young people entering the work force or the military may also be lacking the mental strength they need to successfully join the adult world.
The respondents found it "extremely challenging" to make new friends, handle their bills, be independent, and keep touch with family and friends.
Teach kids how to be mentally strong.Parents are so focused on making sure their children have every competitive advantage possible that they're not allowing kids to make mistakes, experience failure, or face natural consequences. Instead, parents are bailing them out when they're in trouble, rescuing them from discomfort, and solving their problems for them.
Consequently, we're raising a generation of emotional wimps. And it's not the kids' fault. It's the grownups who are so focused on test scores and athletic performance that we've forgotten to teach kids the basic skills they need to become mentally strong adults.
No matter how high your child's SAT scores were, what good will that do if he's too anxious and stressed out to stay in college? And how successful will your star soccer player be if she can't manage her anger on the field?
It's time to listen to what young people are telling us--we aren't helping them build the mental muscles they need succeed.
And while it's never too late to teach your children emotional skills, the earlier you start the more time they'll have to sharpen those skills before you send them off into the adult world.
Addiction treatment programs see high relapse rates in their patients because treatment tends to stop at the crisis and stabilization phases of the disorder and never gets to explore patients' personal growth, said the closing keynote speaker at this week's Addiction Professional Summit on continuing care in Anaheim, Calif.
Reef Karim, DO, director of The Control Center long-term behavioral treatment facility in Beverly Hills, outlined stages of treatment that begin with crisis intervention and ideally should proceed to identity formation and development of a core belief system. However, patients generally end treatment at the stage of achieving some lifestyle modification, without developing a self-concept that is essential to personal wellness, Karim said.
“I can say with full authority, 'People can change,'” said Karim, assistant clinical professor at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience. “But you have to have a sense of who you are in the world.”
He said in relation to treatment programs' typical reaction of blaming the patient who relapses, “Rarely do we talk about self-concept. Rarely do we talk about spiritual change.”
Clinicians should ask their patients a simple “Who are you?” question to probe their core values, although they may have to expect not much of an answer at first, Karim said. They might have to start with the basics, such as a person's political leanings or general interests. With some of his patients, he tries to address the difference between “the advertised version of you” (as portrayed on social media) and “the real version of you.”
In today's society, “We are more focused on capturing the moment than experiencing the moment,” Karim said. “We'd rather advertise than do, live! Our brains are suffering for it.”
He added, “We are more lonely than we were 10 years ago, and we're more bored than we were before.”
The Feb. 4-5 summit, “From Treatment to Recovery: Embracing a Continuing Care Model,” explored issues around treatment organizations becoming recovery-focused and supporting a system that moves away from episodic care. Topics included maximizing the power of treatment center alumni, using technological tools for recovery support, and integrating families and communities into the continuing care model. The event was produced by the publishers of Addiction Professional.
Changing the brain
Karim, whose online talk show “Reef Madness” explores a range of health and human behavior topics, used rich storytelling from his upbringing as the son of Indian immigrants to share messages about personal growth that should resonate with clinicians as much as patients.
He embraces the concept of “self-directed neuroplasticity,” which suggests that individuals can actively influence brain function in order to overcome limitations that have them stuck in life. Use of probiotics, or meditation, or yoga, can help achieve this. Medications may be helpful in the crisis phase of addiction treatment, he said, but mainly achieve symptom reduction.
“Medications certainly aren't going to give you self-concept,” Karim said, adding, “A good doctor knows when not to prescribe.”
Four S's—social connection, stress management, self expression and sense of purpose—hold the key to bringing about meaningful change, Karim said. “With these, you can make a shift in life,” he said.
February 6, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor