The idea of Lent and its fasting and sacrifices is quite a common experience for most cultures. For me, it is about self-control and self-regulation. That’s the ability to regulate my emotions and delay an impulse, drive or temptation to act. I have been working on this aspect of emotional intelligence for a long time and continue to do so; life-long learning at its best. It is very much aligned to my extravert personality which can be fast-thinking, quick moving and impulsive; also, a passion for communication and supporting people (which makes sometimes for too much expression and opinion) along with a love of all things luxurious be that a new pair of leather gloves or a piece of smart technology. Of course, technology has made it even more difficult for me, as at my fingertips is the whole wide world of the web and my wonderful PayPal account which has given me safe and easy access with which to indulge.
Take a look at the following questions and ask yourself honestly:
When you start talking, do you have a hard time stopping?
Do you express yourself more than you listen to others?
Does your impulsiveness create problems for you and/or for others?
Do people tell you to lower your voice in discussions or that you talk too much?
Are you impatient? Are you quick to anger?
Do you have strong impulses that are hard to control? Do you sometimes act without restraint?
Like all aspects of emotional intelligence, Impulse control can be grown, which is a huge relief and is why it is a continuous learning for me. For Lent this year, I am practising being clear about what I want and I am taking responsibility for my own emotions. I try to remember that they are my feelings/emotions and nobody can affect my behaviour without my permission. I am pausing and thinking through my responses before taking action. I am in particular, vigilant for when my ‘buttons are pushed’ and my emotions are hijacked. This is when I am in most danger of losing control over my emotions.
So… I never go on-line to browse when I have had a glass of wine! I stay away from my favourite shops such as Zara on purpose and when I am tempted by the latest Groupon deal, I firmly ask myself do I really need it? If I do not purchase it, what else would I do with the money? And when I am tempted, and about to fall at the fence, I give myself permission to revisit it again in 48 hours – when hey presto, the temptation has gone.
Roll on Easter (and a really nice chocolaty reward for reaching my Lenten goal) and enjoy the last day of Cheltenham, I hope your horse comes home!
Anne Marie Crowley, based in Cork, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business.
Anne Marie Crowley is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.