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Wanted: Emotional Intelligence

Name calling. Intimidation. Coercion. King of the castle. Using money. Minimize, deny and blame. Treating people as objects. The silent treatment, withdrawing our participation and affection. Lying. These concepts are taken from the Duluth model of domestic violence, but are not meant to endorse all of those principles. The use of the power wheel is effective in recognizing power and control where it exists in others as well as ourselves.

These behaviors are the essence of power and control. These behaviors are the very behaviors that republicans like Reagan, (when he called the soviet union the “evil empire” and called Jimmy Carter “weak”) Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachman utilize to disempower truth. These behaviors are effective for the short term. However, inherent in the use of these behaviors is the power struggle that will result. Power struggles rob us of energy and keep us focused on the “process” over truth. This is part of why this technique is so effective. It robs those engaged from forward motion. It paralyzes people. It keeps them stuck running in circles fighting for power over each other. The essence of power and control is to extend control beyond the truth of any given situation. It is to engage in imbalance and to go against the nature or truth of a situation. We as human beings are naturally brought to peace when we can accept a truth, face a reality and find a way to live with it effectively. This brings peace. When we accept a truth and interact with it in a way that brings harmony and effectiveness, we feel at peace.

Right now, the world is engaged in a battle for truth. The truth is a river running through life…and not one of us, has ownership of it. In fact truth emerges in our interactions with one and other. We learn in our relationship with others. This is part of the purpose of our “social” nature. We act as mirrors for each other.

When we get into skirmishes about power…it is an invariant, that we lose focus on the problem at hand. That our focus on control, often takes our attention from the problem to be solved and shifts it to defending and attacking rather than seeking truth, acceptance and solution. This use of resources, is expensive not only in regard to natural resources, money and lives, but also in regard to the problem we seek to solve. When we engage in the behaviors of control, we most likely will not resolve the true problem at hand. We will be diverted in our attention until the problem resolves on it’s own or we stumble across the truth we needed in the first place. Make no mistake about this, though, it is a circuitous route, to solving the problem at hand. What we seek to control is often not representative of the true problem at hand, but rather a symptom that we have judged and want to control.

Over the last few years, skirmishes between progressives have increased. We are engaged in a chaotic time. We are all seeking truth and good orderly direction. The problem is that we don’t always know for sure what the truth is. We don’t have a sure fire way to distinguish opinion from fact. In my humble opinion, these skirmishes often rob us of time and power. In this case, the power referred to is that which resides with truth. The unknowable, the unattainable, but nevertheless valid truth that runs through all of life. We can argue philosophically whether truth exists at all outside of ourselves, but that discussion is not the heart of my point. My point is that there are effective ways to engage in the pursuit for truth. And there are less effective ways. . There are some things we do that have relatively little impact on our ability to find truth and balance.

Right now, with the corporate world seeking to control our lives and encroaching more and more on our way of life, it is has never been more important to seek the most efficient and effective forms of influence and communication. This diary seeks to lay out a standard for this pursuit. That we as progressives pay attention, as Martin Luther King Jr, did not only to the message we seek to convey but also to the method. That we as progressives will be more effective in speaking truth to abuse of power, if we make an effort not to discredit ourselves and our message by our “method” of delivery. When the process becomes louder than the message it interfers with the message. When the message and process are one…this is the most powerful form of communication. Powerful because it represents truth in word and action.

In order for us to avoid the pitfalls of abuse of power and control, we must become aware of it’s components, as listed above. We must be able to see these dynamics in those abusing it, and see it in our own behaviors where we may have internalized these behaviors. One of the characteristics of abuse of power is that it has an escalating quality. When a power struggle erupts there is almost always an escalation of energy and focus. When power is abusive it has the quality of a “pressure cooker”. When seeking truth is the pinnacle instead of power over truth, when effectiveness and problems solving is in use, this “pressure cooker” resolves. Energy may remain intensely focused but it flows. It is not contained. It’s when we find the river, when we ride this flow of truth, that we are most likely to be effective and to influence a solution.

Power and control ignited slavery. A pressure cooker began. We as a people felt uncomfortable, we argued about it’s righteousness. We finally stumbled on a truth that was bigger than our opinions and that truth set us free.

If progressives were to seek this kind of power. The power of truth. If we made a commitment to seek the river of truth that runs with us, and to avoid skirmishes over power that zap of us strength and focus, we would absolutely overcome the imbalance occuring now.

Up above, the components of power and control are listed. Become familiar. See these patterns of behavior and recognize them, when you see it in others, and see it in yourself acceptance is key. These behaviors of counter productive. They engage a power struggle and detract from our mission and message. The idea is not to judge or seek power over those who use it, but to accept it and it’s consequences. It doesn’t matter who is using these techniques…do in in retaliation or for any reason, detracts from truth.

If we don’t use power and control what do we do to be effective? What do we do in order to influence? What works? The most powerful and effective skills require practice. These skills are difficult to learn in a place like America where power and control is the most influential dynamic. How do I know this is a influential dynamic? Look at our military. Look at the resources we use to maintain it. The number of people involved in the maintenance of control over others. Look at our police forces, our jails. Look at the fact that parents are loathe to give up on corporal punishment to control our children. This river of power and control also runs through our lives and may be responsible for many of the consequences we are experiencing today.

Here are skills that contribute to the power of truth, minimize the negative consequences of abuse of control, and increase the positive consequences of seeking truth.

1) acceptance of what is
2) a nonjudgmental stance
3) the pursuit of effectiveness
4) 100% accountability
5) emotion regulation

When these skills are practiced, effectiveness increases. These are the antithesis to power and control. These skills help us find validity, they help us ban together effectively, they help us utilize and resolve conflicts, and finally help us to use our emotions as energy toward a well thought out and wise goal. This helps us guard against and quickly recover from impulsive engagements of power and control. This is the art of self awareness. If we together make a commitment in regard to the process, the way in which we agree to achieve our goals, it is my thesis that we will increase our effectiveness exponentially. Martin Luther King Jr. was effective not just by what he said, but by how he did it. It was his process that increased his power. He made a personal commitment to follow certain principles, for him Jesus was likely his role model. This made his message powerful. The same was witnessed as we watched Egypt. They held to the principle to avoid power and control, and while they engaged in this together, and stayed focused not only on the message but also the process, the inherent power was accessed.

What about a series of diaries to discuss emotional intelligence and and to develop a “process” by which progressives engage to increase our effectiveness. Are we interested in learning about how to practice a truly non judgmental stance, in how to practice acceptance , in how to become 100% accountable in our own lives, in the art of emotion regulation? Is there anyone out there interested in learning how to streamline our movement and increase our effectiveness in this way. Does anyone else see the potential of a movement that holds integrity above all else?

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I am a licensed mental health counselor specializing in the treatment of trauma. My twenty years of experience in treating survivors of domestic violence, childhood abuse, sexual assault and war have increased my desire to participate in studying the invariant relationships related to violence. My current pet theory has to do with denial and truth. The invalidation of those who suffer from trauma, has created symptoms that plague our society. The most serious symptom being the perpetuation of violence in our denial of it's consequences.

The truth shall set you free. But it takes skills (emotional intelligence) to handle the truth...because most of society...
"can't handle the truth."