The journey towards any goal is seldom a straight line. More often than not you will face challenges. It’s a normal part of the process.
But the problem is that these challenges may have a direct effect on your mind, creating a turmoil of emotions. Emotions that if not taken care of, tend to escalate to humongous proportions preventing you to reach your goals and dreams.
Let’s take a closer look at the emotional roller coaster that is a fitness journey.
Stage 1 – You have just decided to embark on this journey. Motivation is high as a kite. You can’t see any obstacles so you overestimate your own abilities, creating an ambitious plan that may not be realistic on the long run. But you are excited and you go with it.
Stage 2 – You are two weeks in and still can’t see any visible results. Decide to do some research and get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. You get confused and start to second guessing your original plan. You feel compelled to make adjustments.
Stage 3 – Still no results and life catches up with you. You feel impatient and frustrated. “I am doing so much. I should be seeing some difference by now. Why is it taking so long?”
Stage 4 – Start feeling overwhelmed with everything you set up to do. It feels hard to keep up. Motivation starts to waver.
Stage 5 – Now, you are second guessing everything. “Am I on the right path? Am I capable of doing this? Do I even want it?”
Stage 6 – Negative self-talk starts. Can’t see anything good about this journey. Blame game starts.
Stage 7 – As the internal pressure rises you feel discouraged. You are on the brink of giving up.
Stage 8 – “Can’t take it anymore.” You jump off the band wagon. Experience an initial feeling of relief, followed by guilt, unworthiness and dis-empowerment.
Stage 9 – Go on with your life. Try to justify your decision to quit. Use other things to make you feel better but it is too late. The whole experience left a scar in your self-esteem.
Have you gone through something like that before? Well, you are not alone. It is estimated that 73% of people who starts a fitness program give up before seeing results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As I mentioned on my previous post (click here if you haven’t read it), to be successful you must learn to deal with negative emotions. Otherwise, you will quit before even starting.
Why is this important? Because we make decisions are based on emotions. The truth is that negative emotions trigger a response from a primitive part of the brain which tends to underestimate resources and overestimate threats. It’s a survival instinct.
But you are not here to survive. You are here to thrive, right?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to control emotions in order to make decisions from a resourceful state, not biased by fear, guilt, insecurity or other negative emotions.
Take willpower, for instance. Willpower is a resource that can only be accessed when you are on a positive state of mind (from joy to contentment). The moment you go down on the emotional scale, you reach an unresourceful state and can’t rely on willpower anymore.
A negative state generates negative self-talk, bringing up limiting beliefs based on past experiences. In those states, the mind start looking for reasons why you can’t succeed. And the more you allow the negative self-talk to grow, the deeper you go into a negative state.
Therefore, learning to manage emotions is fundamental if you want to achieve any goal. Emotional intelligence doesn’t prevent negative emotions to arise but it allows you to recognise when you are getting into an emotional spiral so you can stop it before it’s too late.
The good news is that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a skill which can be learned and strengthened. You just need to start.