Day 29 - Emotions and the body

I'm on the wire, when the pressure hits, my juices get going. It must be a hangup from my early years in school. Always bored with the content of class, I ended up doing everything last minute, and still getting out with a decent grade. If somehow, I could trick my mind into believing the deadline was much earlier, so I can benefit from both the output, and the time I have leftover from finishing earlier. But that's for another day.

Here I'll think through what I want to take a room of 13 to 17 year olds through. The purpose is to engage them on the topic of Emotional Intelligence. Which had me thinking. What is the difference between that and empathy. But first I'll start with what Rob calls a Full Value Contract, which is an agreement between them and me, the facilitator, on how the group will operate moving forward. Also known as guiding principles with an encouragement to "fully value" each member of the group. The teams will have to, within their group, answer the following questions, remembering to tell them to select a "presenter" to share what the groups answers were.

Team 1:
What does it mean to respect someone?
What is the best way to respect you?

Team 2:
What will help you cooperate with the people in this group?
What can you do or say to help this group work together?

Team 3:
What does it mean to be physically and emotionally safe?
What does it mean to take risks physically and emotionally?

Team 4:
What does it mean to be present in the group?
What types of behaviors display being present?

Team 5:
What does it mean to tell your truth?
What do you feel are the outcomes (good or bad) of sharing honestly?

While they debrief, we capture it on a large paper, ensuring that these points are also included if they're not mentioned.

These include:

• Participate in a way that is safe for you (socially, emotionally, physically, etc.)
• Be here 100%
• Respect the diversity of everyone in the group (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, personal beliefs). We all have a great deal to learn from each other. You don’t have to agree, but you need to listen honestly and think about how someone else sees the world.

The next step is to individually write down
• A strength that they bring to the group (such as energy, humor, knowledge, etc.)
• One thing that they need from the group (support, clear communication, etc.)
• What is one personal goal you have for yourself during this program?
• What is one goal you have for the group during this program?"

Then they develop the Full Value Contract by agreeing to 5 points, after which they trace their hands and write their names in the middle, as a signature.

Once that's complete we're ready to start! I'll have them breakup into a 1-2-4-all exercise, and have them individually write down what their understanding of empathy is, and what their understanding of emotional intelligence is. I'm hoping here to allow for them to first be OK with their own contributions and that when the debrief happens for the full room, they also understand they weren't too far off, and there's no such thing as knowing it all.

For my sake, I'll define empathy being the ability to feel the emotions others are going through, and that can be cognitive or thinking it through from another persons perspective (example of asking for more allowance, but acknowledging a parent's point of view), it can be emotional or feeling it in your body, like stubbing a toe or a baby crying, and it can be compassionate which is a healthy blend that balances the previous two.

Emotional intelligence is split into 4 muscle groups, one is self awareness, understanding the emotions you are experiencing and being able to name them. Self management, once you understand the emotion, it's being able to interpret it based on context, how is what is happening around you impacting how you feel and managing your emotions according to the situation. Me speaking on stage in grade 8 for example, could have used some of that. Social awareness, understanding the emotions and actions of others, whether it's someone in a line, or an event happening half way around the world. Connecting with your environment allows you to be better able to judge your reality and make decisions. Interpersonal management, the ability to relate to others, is how you manage emotions in interactions with others, think of a parent with baby who is upset, I make funny faces and start laughing, he's too young to be self aware so he copies me.

This should have us at the 45 minute mark, which means we can start with the presencing theater exercises. I'll introduced them as a way of practicing awareness of body and the emotions that are attached. I can only imagine how awkward and self conscious I was as a kid, so here, I hope the super power teams they've already been in, and the contracts they created, will overpower any shy tendencies. I will have to model the movements, and share what my positions were when going through the exercise. And finally, we close with the take 5 exercise, where they trace their fingers inhaling as they trace up to the tip of the finger and exhaling as they trace to the groove between the fingers.

Yay! Not bad for some last minute workshop notes.

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