“An emotion has its intention, but as soon as it ends and you must go on”. This is a phrase is from Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, journalist and American writer who is worldwide recognized for his theory of emotional intelligence. Goleman says that emotional intelligence is the ability of human beings to become aware of their own emotions; that is to say, recognize them, understand them and deal with them. However, although we all continually have emotions, very few of us know how to handle them. For that reason, I interviewed Regina Solar, a Guatemalan trainer, mentor, coach, and mediator who is certified in the development of emotional intelligence, so that she could tell us more on this subject.
Regina, could you tell us how you understand the concept of emotional intelligence and why it is important that we learn more about it?
There are very extensive definitions and sometimes very complex words, but I would summarize it in the following sentence, learning to handle emotions with intelligence. When I say that we learn to manage emotions I am not only referring to our own but also to knowing how to handle the emotions of the people around us. Although many reasons by that exist we would have to learn more on this subject, I consider that one of the main ones is because constantly we are being related to more people, already are with friends, family, fellow workers, etc. and lamentably, at no moment of our life, we received formation to develop the abilities that could help us to confront with more calm, the disadvantages of these interactions.
How is that you got into the world of emotional intelligence and how did you become a mediator and mentor of these processes?
My story began when I was little, I come from a family where there was an atmosphere of conflict, where there were very explosive reactions. That got me into trouble because ultimately home is the first school where we learn patterns of behavior and there came a point in my life where I noticed that the way I was reacting was causing me harm. At that moment, I began to become aware of the roots of my behavior and decided to change them. I started participating in neurolinguistic programming and coaching programs. Nevertheless, years later stress at work caused me health problems. I had to give up work and other activities and every day I wondered why I was suffering from these diseases? I was hoping to find an answer. In that process, I had the opportunity to attend a breathing course, and there I began to connect more consciously the subject of the connections between the body, diseases, emotions, and thoughts. Little by little, I was receiving other courses, including meditation. With this, my physical and emotional health improved. Today I can say firsthand, that knowing and understanding these subjects, has given many benefits me, not only to handle personal relations but to confront tense situations, challenges and reactions. So, it is not that I have been told about the benefits, but that I have experienced them myself. That is why I wanted to be part of that change for other people.
How can meditation help us develop certain skills, and how can they improve our work and personal life?
There are many types of meditation but I think there are two special types of meditation for developing emotional intelligence. On the one hand, they are the meditations that help to cultivate the calm, oriented in the breathing, the approach, and the calm of the mind and the body. On the other hand, there are the meditations aimed at developing certain skills such as resilience, empathy, compassion, or leadership. In fact, with meditation, any ability or value can be developed. In the workplace, meditation helps develop leadership, communication, teamwork, or empathy towards other people.
How would you describe the perception of Guatemalan people on the subject of meditation and emotional intelligence?
Well, I have noticed different reactions. I work individually and with groups and I could say that NGOs tend to be more receptive. Some companies are open to knowing more, but in practice, they do not quite accept and integrate it. In general, working on this issue in Guatemala is still a challenge. Let’s not say that the subject of meditation brings up many myths, because people associate meditation with religion, and in reality, it is not like that. In addition, in Guatemala, a culture of meditation as it happens for example, in some countries of Asia does not exist. So, for most people, it is something new. I think people are curious but skeptical at the same time.
What is the appropriate age to start working on emotional intelligence?
Ideally, we could learn as children. This would avoid many complications in life because what we do daily interactions with other people and we lack the skills to do so in an emotionally intelligent way. However, we must consider that to learn this as children, our parents should also have been taught. In addition, in educational centers, at least some activity or subject related to this should be worked on. The hope of the people who are involved in these issues is that one day they are included in the educational curriculum.
Can we all work on emotional intelligence and meditation? What happens with the people who have gone through some type of trauma?
I would say that for the subject of emotional intelligence there are no negative repercussions for those who work on it. Of course, not having resolved the trauma will make it difficult to be emotionally intelligent. Now while meditation is geared toward cultivating calm and focus, when there is very severe trauma, meditation can be counterproductive. In those cases, which is suggested is that there is a previous process of therapies with a professional. What happens is that when we enter that state of calm through meditation, we make the unconscious conscious and that could cause things to arise that have been blocking or avoided. Likewise, meditation involves focusing a lot on the sensations of the body, so the trauma is recorded in the body. Therefore, in these cases, one must first teach how to develop certain tools in case the trauma arises during the meditation.
How has hit you helping other people through your work?
The most shocking thing for me has been receiving positive comments, above all, because I have felt identified; especially when people become aware of their own behaviors and decide to change because we all can transform ourselves, no matter what history we have or what we are living. The challenge is to stay calm amid chaos, with all the things that happen around us. Let us remember that we are reflected in what we took inside, if we took to the chaos that is what leaves and if we took to calm that is what will arise. So, when we learn to live within our internal calm, the product is reflected in the quality of relations and interactions that we have in the day-to-day, our health, and our well-being.