Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Why "Grow Forward?"

A few weeks ago the bare twigs of the peach tree in our backyard swayed bleakly in the cold air.

They appeared dead from the outside, but upon closer examination you could see that little buds had formed which would soon begin popping blossoms. The tree itself functions with total confidence that the apparent desolate situation is only a precursor to a more favourable time.

This type of optimism is found everywhere in nature and it is hardwired into plants and animals across the globe.  Things grow forward with a certain confidence.
Well, most things... 

Many people on the other hand, lack the confidence to embrace change; kicking and screaming instead, or deadening their minds in a thousand and one different vices and distractions.  No matter that we survived the ice ages, created awe inspiring art, architecture and technologies ...and have even been to the moon, supposedly!
(Being born on the day that they blasted off in July '69 I have a vested interest in believing!)

The source of the problem is also the answer:
These big brains we have!
Both a blessing and a curse, depending on how they are used...

It is possible to think so much that we never do anything.
Or to react so quickly we cause large scale destruction over something minuscule.
I'm sure that you can think of examples:

- The "Will I or Won't I?  Oh, too late... missed my chance!"
- The sledgehammer reply to a colleague or loved one when silence and further listening might have been in order.

Unless we use a modicom of emotional intelligence it is possible to become deeply confused about our own feelings, tangled in webs of thought and apathy, while trampling other people's feelings and being a total social ogre.

Without engaging our capacities of self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and social competence we stand to lose all to the whims of our most primitive (and usually least appropriate) reactions.

Emotional intelligence helps people to respond thoughtfully, rather than react thoughtlessly.
The old "hindbrain" needs to be heard - while kept on a leash!

So back to budding blossoms and change-phobic humans...  it is easier to grow forward confidently if we know ourselves - just enough, to manage the emotions that inevitably rise and that can potentially destabilise our best efforts and most important relationships. Those same emotions can also provide us with vital guiding information if listened to, and responded to thoughtfully.

So much easier with peach blossoms ...but less impressive!