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We all want to live a great life, but we need to do some self-exploration to get there.
Discovering the type of life we want to live requires us to examine our innermost thoughts and desires.
What do we want from the world? What do we believe the world can give us? What do we think about the world around us? What do we feel about ourselves? If we want to live a satisfying life, it means we need to start understanding mistaken beliefs—the lies and misbeliefs we adopt throughout our lives that lead us to certain ideas about the world (that may hold us back).
How do we start identifying and understanding mistaken beliefs? Do we all have them? (We do!) Are they always “mistaken”? Most importantly, how do we let go of these thoughts that hold us back?
Living the life we want is really a decision that each of us can make. We all have the ability to set our intention about our life, to move toward things that bring us happiness and satisfaction, and to move away from the things that may bring us harm.
Of course, we all want MORE happiness in our lives. We all want more fulfilling connections, better relationships, better careers. We all want to wake up excited to face a new adventure each day. We want to feel confident and in control of our path.
But within each of us is a set of beliefs—something we refer to as our “matrix.” This network of ideas, experiences, and beliefs shape how we see the world around us. It shapes how we see ourselves and what we believe our role in the world is today.
Our matrix was formed when we were very young (much of it before we could even talk). We were small; the world was big. We were dependent on parents and caretakers. We may have seen the world as unsafe. We may have started to believe certain things about our ability and role. Maybe we learned that we were not enough or that we were too much. Perhaps we saw affection as something we needed to “earn.” Maybe we believed that it wasn’t okay to share or express our emotions—that we had to be happy all the time.
It’s not that all of these beliefs are bad, but some of the ideas about ourselves were mistaken. They may have been true and even helpful at the time (like believing that we needed to follow what our parents told us). Now, however, some of these beliefs might be holding us back from living the life we want.
When we talk about what it means to live our best life, I like to recognize that living a full and satisfying life is a decision—one that we can each make. As outlined in my book, The One Decision, living the life we want to live is a choice.
The One Decision was powerfully stated by Shakespeare, who may have said it best: “To be or not to be. That is the question.” To be—to be alive, aware, and to be yourself; or not to be—to be dimmed down, numbed out, unaware. To be conscious or to be unconscious.
Your One Decision can be worded in any way that seems right to you, but it is actually a binary choice, an on/off switch between two opposites:
To be or not to be
A life of MORE or a life of less
Awake or asleep
Deep or superficial
Substantive or vacuous
Real or fake
Light or dark
Spiritual or temporal
Fulfilling deep desires or surface wants
Truth or illusion
Adventure or suffering
Whether we want to admit it or not, there is only one choice. It is either one thing or the other. It is the only choice we have. To pretend that there is any other choice is absurd and completely false.
Of course, we all want to live a life of fulfillment. We may get bogged down with the nuances of the decision: “Am I choosing the right life? What is it that I really want?”
But when we hem and haw over the choice, we’re simply procrastinating our progression. It’s a universal human desire to grow, evolve, and achieve. If we look at human achievements throughout history, we can see that it’s natural human instinct and drive to discover and invent continuously. This applies to industry, art, and science, but it also applies to our inner lives. Within each of us is the desire to become the best person we can be. We’re driven toward making the One Decision: to live the life we want, find greater fulfillment, deeper connections, and experience richer adventures.
Simply by getting up each day, going to work, and interacting with people, we’re choosing a small scale to live our life.
Yet, for many of us, some thoughts creep into our minds—doubts and fears that take over—and tell us that the things we want are unreasonable, unobtainable, or that we are undeserving. We may fear failure, mistakes, embarrassment, rejection, or worse. We may feel uncertain about our place in the world or our best path forward.
Understanding mistaken beliefs is the first step in learning to let them go. These mistaken beliefs keep us from moving forward. They prevent us from choosing to move our life in the direction towards abundance and achievement.
Every person has uncertainties. These doubts and self-limiting beliefs often sound reasonable. In our minds, they’re presented as “facts” or truths. Yet, these thoughts are really a distorted version of reality.
Sometimes these thoughts might be negative. We might take the view that things are against us, that the world is unfair, or that we will never get what we want. We might have self-defeating thoughts or believe that the cards are stacked against us. When we have these negative thoughts, we refer to them as “stinking thinking”—thoughts that stink!
Many of our stinking thoughts are ingrained in our minds. These thoughts block us from seeing our actual value. They tell us to settle for temporary fixes. They push us to zone out with soft addictions and time wasters. This is the voice that says, “It’s too hard. You’ll never do it. Chill out on the couch with a pizza and Netflix instead.”
We may fall into this illusion of “more” by even believing that it’s “self-care” and that we deserve this break. In reality, these actions aren’t nourishing. They do the opposite—they hold us back and prevent us from really going for what we want. We see the path of least resistance as the easiest answer, but it’s also the one that leaves us unfulfilled.
Mistaken beliefs and assumptions spawn stinking thinking. It takes many forms: rationalizing, making excuses, being defensive, overgeneralizing, thinking you are unloved or unworthy, labeling, blaming, minimizing, projecting, being prejudiced, mind-reading, being superstitious, obfuscating, all-or-nothing thinking—all ways of fudging or denying the truth, escaping from the deeper reality underneath.
Stinking thinking robs you of MORE. This false thinking keeps you from achieving what you could and discourages you from trying new things, taking risks, and creating MORE. You may use these thoughts to talk yourself out of pursuing MORE before you even get a fighting chance. Stinking thinking lowers motivation and kills hope. And it’s how most of us think and talk most of the time.
Falling into the loop of stinking thinking, you embrace what is a false reality. You continually revisit your stinking thinking litany: I can’t. I’m too old, young, poor, fat… to do that. If only I were thinner, richer, or more attractive, everything would work out. It’s his fault. It’s her fault. I’ll never be able to have MORE in my life. I already tried that, and I failed, so it’s no use trying again. I’m not smart enough. It’ll never happen. This always happens. It will never get any better. I’m not okay. No one will ever love me. All the good men are taken or gay. Women only want men who are rich and successful. This is hopeless. I’ll start my diet tomorrow I’ll never learn. When I win the lottery, I’ll make my One Decision…
-The One Decision
Now, as we look at that litany of stinking thinking, at least one or two of those lies probably look familiar. These are common thought patterns. They are also invalid.
When stinking thinking patterns sneak upon us, we have a choice. We can either observe it, acknowledge it for what it is, and move forward, or we can invest in them. What we shouldn’t do is beat ourselves up about them. This humorous approach is part of why we use the silly term “stinking thinking.”
Our students and those who attend our networking events receive Stinking Thinking tokens (they even have a skunk on them). It’s a little funny, but it also helps with understanding mistaken beliefs. When we approach it with humor and compassion, we realize that we don’t need to accept these serious thoughts as reality. We can acknowledge them for what they are and let them go.
Each of us is a magnificent being, worthy of all the joy and rich experience that life brings. When we start to experience stinking thinking, it’s important to remind ourselves of the important truth instead. You are worthy. You are a gift.
It can be tough to shift our thinking from self-doubt to self-belief. It doesn’t mean we’ll have instant confidence. This acceptance is a slow process that begins when we start to really invest in ourselves and our personal growth.
To love yourself, you must know yourself and align to your truths. This means understanding where your mistaken beliefs originated, acknowledging your emotions and thought patterns, and treating yourself with compassion and kindness.
When we make our One Decision to live a life of more, it’s a leap of faith. We must believe that we are worthy of a life of fulfillment and goodness (we are!). Each person is imbued with great potential for happiness, goodness, and a life of MORE. Understanding mistaken beliefs and learning to let them go will help you move forward on your journey toward living the life of your dreams.
If you’re looking for more ways to live the life of your dreams, please visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses to help you with relationships, career, and personal growth. If you’re ready to live a life of MORE, start today!
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.