Improve Your Emotional Intelligence By Understanding Paradigms
To increase your emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and resiliency, one must understand how Paradigms impact the way we see and experience the world and thus our lives.
A PARADIGM is a mental filter through which we view the world and make meaning of our life experiences. Paradigms are made up of our core beliefs. It is our core beliefs that influence the decisions we make every day. We experience our lives from one, of four Paradigms: Integrity, Achievement, Duty, or Fear.
Another way to think about Paradigms is to recall an old saying, “you see the world through rose-colored glasses.” If you don’t know you are wearing rose-colored glasses the everything you see, and experience is rose-colored.
Each Paradigm is qualitatively different. As we shift from one Paradigm to another, our experience of life also shifts. For example: how we view others, feel about ourselves, how motivated we are, how willing we are to take responsibility for ourselves, is experienced through the lenses of a Paradigm.
We are not locked into one Paradigm. We may shift between Paradigms at different moments or even in various areas of our lives. It is not “bad” to be in one Paradigm and “good” to be in another. They are all part of our human experience, and each provides valuable lessons.
However, as we move up the ladder from Fear to Duty to Achievement to Integrity, we are aligning our lives more and more with principles that lead to satisfaction and success.
Fear is a crippling Paradigm. It causes life to be a constant battleground. Pain overtakes affirmative action in our lives, and we feel powerless to do anything about it. The amount of emotional energy used to combat these stresses can lead to an increased level of anxiety, depression, and mental illness.
Striving for Survival
We are motivated by “have to” or “afraid to” attitude, and so we develop a mentality focused on surviving rather than living. Most tasks and responsibilities are viewed as unpleasant, causing us to have a primarily negative outlook on life. Feelings such as inadequacy, anger, and extreme sadness overcome our ability to see the positive things happening around us. We often express these feelings with behaviors that are destructive to ourselves and others.
Comfort in Security
Experiencing life in the Fear Paradigm may cause us to attach quickly to any substance or situation that makes us feel secure. For example, excessive intake of alcohol, food, drugs, sex, are reactions to existing in the Fear Paradigm. The feeling of being lost in our Fear leaves little room for us to develop respect for ourselves.
This Paradigm is where most of us tend to spend our lives. We spend our time understanding and accepting the way things are “supposed to be.” Duty causes us to live in a constant desire for conformity to these pre-determined standards. We behave how we are supposed to, and we do what we ought to do.
Duty calls us to be steady, dependable, and honest, working to be good people in every aspect of our lives. The way we feel about ourselves is dependent upon how we perceive others think about us. We strive to be honorable in our daily tasks and may develop reduced self-esteem. Experiencing life through the Duty Paradigm causes us to be humble and good-hearted in our lifestyles.
Often, if we are not careful, we become addicted to the approval of those around us. We stifle our own needs and our creative expression because of our desire to satisfy the expectations of others.
Experiencing life from this Paradigm demonstrates strong personal competence that leads to high internal motivation. The motivation to achieve leads us to pursue and to attain whatever it is we perceive to be as “success.”
Because personal success is different to everyone, the motivation behind this Paradigm will vary. Some may crave the external prosperity of wealth or power, while others may seek internal well-being.
A Dose of Discipline
The Achievement Paradigm is characterized by discipline, hard work, and goal-oriented behavior. Achievement often comes with a continual striving for more in some capacity, and a mindset that there is always more work to do. We are less influenced by society and more by our picture of success. Our “oughts” and our “shoulds” come from our core beliefs, not from the outside world.
Within this Paradigm, we cultivate our internal standard for performance and behavior. Though this competitive nature and striving for perfectionism can propel us to meet our goals, it can also lead to high-stress levels and crippling self-criticism.
The Integrity Paradigm is about developing inner moral strength. Integrity helps us become more significant than our circumstances and challenges. When we live through the Integrity Paradigm, we consistently take responsibility for ourselves and experience life from a mindful perspective.
Integrity requires us to recognize ourselves as responsible for our actions and our reactions in every situation. Though uncomfortable, living in Integrity requires us to confront our self-defeating tendencies and let go of our Fear of failure.
Perspective is key to this Paradigm. To live in Integrity, we must be ever conscious of the present and take hold of our current situations, whatever they may be. Developing awareness for how we respond to triggering events in our lives leads us to higher self-esteem and good relationships. When we live from an Integrity Paradigm, we naturally desire win-win circumstances for everyone we encounter.
Because Paradigms influences our attitudes, world views, emotions, and outlook on life, it is of the utmost importance that we understand and evaluate them. Once we have clarity on which Paradigm, we are operating from, we can begin to take steps to reach the Integrity Paradigm.