I’ve been studying proverbs from around the world in order to produce an inspirational PowerPoint. There are some beautiful slide shows out there, and as far as I’m concerned there can’t be enough of them, and I’ve not seen one with great proverbs, of which there are plenty.

They are a wonderful look at human nature and the way things work; the cumulative wisdom of people around the globe and over time. When you hear the same thing, in the beautiful and picturesque language of proverbs or sayings, from countries miles apart in space, and centuries apart in time, you can’t help but take note.

Well, the Moroccans have a saying, “If fate throws a knife at you, there are two ways of catching it: By the blade and by the handle.”

Since I coach, I have the opportunity to talk to many people who have had a knife thrown at them, and my clients are international, just from the US. How many of them wisely and kindly choose to catch it by the blade. Or, as the Germans say, they choose to “Drive gently over the stones.”

I’m also an EQ coach – emotional intelligence – and one of the EQ competencies is being relentlessly and adamantly self-forgiving. The cornerstone of EQ is self-awareness, and, as you know if you’ve been caught in the black hole of being unable to forgive someone (another, or yourself) you know that forgiveness is ultimately for your benefit.
The reason I bring this up here, is that catching it by the blade often revolves around blame. When something adverse happens we can spend much time casting blame – either at ourselves or others. We fill our mind with thoughts:

· How could she?
· I should’ve known better
· If only I’d …
· This is unfair and I’ll never survive it/get over it.
· You’re damn right I’m bitter/cynical. You would be too.
· I won’t stop until I get even with him.

Perhaps worst of all is when there really isn’t a person to blame, and we harbor the notion, sometimes unspoken, that we have a RIGHT to SUFFER for the rest of our lives. The feelings are justified, yes. Our feelings are always just what they are, and are not to be argued with. But with emotional intelligence, we realize that we still have a choice of how we react and respond to those feelings and that ultimately its our wellness that’s at stake.

When we listen to others sometimes we can’t help thinking – it was bad enough this should happen. Why do they punish themselves further? Things are clearer when it’s someone else, yes?

All of these self-thoughts amount to driving hard over the stones, and they add insult to injury. They add to our toxic state and drain our energy. They are catching "it" by the blade and injuring yourself further.

When we chose adverse ways to deal with adversity, we compound the harm and usually end up having survived the initial event, but having to clean up one or more messes we've made in the meantime.

It is similar to the preschooler who gets made because her painting didn't turn out the way she wanted, and then throws her paper, paint, brushes, water, and herself on the floor. But I don't mean this lightly.

Eliza, Meg, Norma and Gabriella all lost their marriages of many years when their husbands left them for younger women. Eliza, Meg, and Norma all drove hard over the stones, and caught it by the blade.

Eliza started drinking again after 10 years of sobriety.

Meg turned bitter about men in general, and put herself through a period of promiscuity which reinforced her negative feelings about men, and damaged her self-respect.

Norma became depressed, neglected her job, got fired, and added financial problems to her burdens.

Gabriella, on the other hand, used the anger-energy to blaze through graduate school in record time with record grades, and focused on a brilliant new career for herself. She told me, “We Italians say ‘Anger is an expensive luxury’ and one I can’t afford. I want to enjoy my life, and I won’t give anyone else the power to take that from me.”

When we dwell in negative thoughts and mind-frames, it brings to mind another proverb, this one a bit of African wisdom: “Whether the knife falls on the melon or the melon falls on the knife, it is the melon that suffers.” You can’t be angry without being anger, or as the Koreans say, “If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot.”

Developing your emotional intelligence gives you options in adversity, which is to say resilience (one of the EQ competencies). It means being able to bounce back from loss, rejection, disappointment, insult and injury, and still retain hope for the future. It’s definitely worth cultivating.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Susan is the author of “Worldly Wisdom,” in ebook or PowerPoint, available on her website, and coaches internationally. She also trains and certifies EQ coaches. Email her for FREE ezine. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc .

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