Spirit of EQ Podcast – Recognizing Patterns
Eric: Hi everyone, this is Eric with the Spirit Of EQ and today’s podcast is on recognizing patterns. I’m a football fan. I like the OSU Buckeyes. And one big part of football is watching game film. You probably have heard that before. And in game film, you get to see your opponent’s patterns. You might even get to see your own team’s patterns. It’s an important thing to recognize. In today’s episode, we’re talking about recognizing patterns and at the beginning of the podcast I talked about game film and those kinds of things. So I won’t bore you over with sports analogies but tell me a little bit about what recognizing patterns mean as it relates to the work you guys do.
Jeff: When we’re dealing with emotional intelligence and recognizing patterns it’s learning to understand, “if this happens I do that,” or “If I do this to someone else they do that.” So it’s how people respond or react to situations. Because we learn those, it’s kind of ingrained in us. So when you can recognize a pattern if things are going bad right now and my pattern is, you know, I’m going to, you know, this is a bad pattern I’m going to go out and get drunk. You know that if this happens I’m going to do that. So if you recognize the first beginning of it you can short circuit it, stop it, so that you don’t do the result that’s not so good. Or if this happens things aren’t going my way. My pattern is I’m going to go take that two-hour walk in the woods to get myself calmed down. Those are both patterns, one leads to a good outcome one leads to a not so good outcome. So recognizing the pattern especially from the beginning of it will let you choose what you want to do. Once again it’s, we’ve talked about this before, it’s a response instead of a reaction to a situation.
Eric: I kind of think about it and I don’t know if this applies, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but I know that when my wife and I first got married I was a person that believed that if there was a problem and it happened at 11:30 we need to talk about it. And then it took me a long time to figure out that she’s not good at dealing with problems after 10:00. And what I had to do is I had to understand even when my emotions were running really high like hey we’ve got to deal with this. I would stop and go wait a minute. It’s like 10:30. This has got to be tabled until the next day. So for me recognizing patterns, you just nailed it right on the head, so I know exactly where you’re at. So how about neural pathways? Sounds really scientific, Jeff, help me I understand that.
Jeff: And I once again I’m not going to talk about all the scientific details because it makes my head hurt. But we’re going to talk about it’s just the basics of it. A pattern of “when this happens, I do that” is a neural pathway. It’s those impulses, and how your brain works, it just follows the same path. So it goes from the whatever the thing is that’s causing it to the result. And the neural pathway becomes how your brain works. It’s the automatic pre-programmed “now, action!” You learned a neural pathway when you just you figured out that after 10 o’clock at night is not a good time to talk to my wife about a problem.
Eric: So it’s kind of my brain telling me OK we don’t talk about problems after 10 o’clock.
Jeff: So you developed a new neural pathway which takes you to, “OK, we’re not talking about this now. We’ll do it in the morning.” Or whenever the right time is so you developed a neural pathway. Now neural pathways are interesting because you can rewrite them. Your original neural pathway was you don’t go to sleep mad, you have to resolve this before you go to sleep at night. That was your original nerve pathway and that could have been from your parents, it could have been from advice someone had given you. So that was the neural pathway that your brain had. So you rewrote it to do the, “We’ll talk about it in the morning.” So that’s a new neural pathway. Now the only problem is or the thing to be aware of is that the old neural pathway is still there. You can’t erase it. It’s still going to be there, so if something is very very stressful it might go back to that old neural pathway, so we need to be aware of that. That the old neural pathway is always going to be there. It’s like a river when it overflows once it now has a pathway to go that way, even if you built a dam or a dike to keep the river from overflowing. When that river gets filled up with water in this case when you’re emotional river gets filled up it might find that weak spot where that dike is and go down that path again.
Eric: Wow, that’s really powerful. And I guess it makes me think about on a previous podcast we talked about this idea of kind of taking a moment to stop, you know the six seconds thing. Is that a way in which you can kind of regroup and kind of go, “Whoa wait a minute I see a pathway that’s leading me down to the old that I don’t want?”
Jeff: Well, then that action of taking the time to take that six seconds, count to 10, or whatever way you do it, is a new neural pathway. It’s there, it’s easy to follow. So that you can you can go that way.
Eric: All right. Something very curious. Pushing buttons. Because whenever I hear that I think that negative. I think hey this person is pushing my buttons. It’s not a good thing. Tell me more about that.
Jeff: Most of the time that’s how we look at it. I’ve been married, it’ll be 39 years in October, and my wife and I know buttons for each other. You know I get angry at her and I go “OK if I do this, push that button, she’s going to be angry too.” And I win. OK? And she knows the ones that I have. And you might have the same thing with people you work with, with your kids, your kids are really good at pushing your buttons. They don’t know it but you know they have a lot of power over you when they do that. But then also pushing a button could have a positive influence. If you’re working with someone and you know that they get stressed out when something changes. But the last time that happened you found out a way to get them through that. So in a way you’re pushing a different kind of button because you’ve already learned something about them to get a positive result. Or at 4:30 on Friday and go in and dump this project on them that they’re going to have to fret over all weekend. And in this case you might want to, they’ve only got a half an hour to work on this on Friday, so I’m not going to ruin their weekend. I’ll give it to one Monday. So that’s a positive pattern. Because they’re just going to be miserable all weekend. So why do that to him?
Eric: I think about patterns, and I think of the danger of patterns because I’m going, you know, we talked about, I think, about habits right? You know “This is how I am. This is what I do.” Can you talk a little bit about maybe some other dangers or maybe elaborate on those as well?
Jeff: The danger of patterns is when they just lead to a reaction. I’ve done a lot of work in prison ministry and most of the men that I’ve worked with, the reason they’re there is their pattern led to a reaction instead of thinking. They didn’t think things through. One of the other competencies we’ll get to in later podcast is consequential thinking. “If I do this, that’s going to happen.” So that’s when a pattern becomes dangerous when it is so ingrained that you just don’t think it through. Or the other thing that a pattern can do is become an easy path. I know if I do this I’ll get the job done because it’s always worked before. But what kind of toll of my taking on myself or what kind of toll am I taking on other people. You might get the end result that you need, you might, you know, this project might get done or you know you get your spouse from, you know, train them to put toilet paper on right away. Or it could be big or little things but it’s how you get to it. It becomes just the easy way. I’m thinking, “Just do it,” instead of taking the time to analyze it a little bit more and I’m not talking about spending hours. It’s almost a gut check, kind of real quick thing.
Eric: It’s interesting when you mention that and I think about people that I’ve known over the years who followed a pattern that led to a negative consequence. And invariably I would always hear “I wish I would have…” “I didn’t take the time to…” and they have a tremendous amount of regret and I think that’s maybe a kind of encouragement here today is to kind of say you’re not talking Jeff that they’ve got to sit down on their couch and pull out a journal and figure out 10 different ways to make a decision on x. You’re talking about this can kind of happen pretty quickly right?
Jeff: Most of the time if you just take that time to let the rational part of your mind work you’re going to choose a better path. It’s just taking that time, developing the habit, developing that new neural pathway, “I’m going to consider,” instead of just do.
Eric: Think about that too. Because you mentioned whether it’s trying to manipulate your wife to put the toilet paper on the way you want or if it’s getting a project done maybe in a way that, I don’t think anybody wakes up in the morning and says “You know, today’s a good day for me to try to get something past my wife or get something past my boss.”
Jeff: No, it’s not designed for that. It’s just one more way of using your emotions in a positive manner. You know I feel this emotion I’m going to analyze it. I’m going to figure out what it’s telling me and then I’m going to decide what to do. And we’ll get into that more because the way that we divide the competencies up is there are two that we’re talking about the last one emotional literacy. And then the one today on recognizing patterns, they are in the “know yourself” segment of our model three through six is going to be on choosing, where you actually decide what you’re going to do, where you’re actually going, to take what you got from “know,” And then you choose and then the last one is “Give.” There are two competencies in that, where you actually do what you do. And then the model we use is circular. And after you go to “give” you back to “know” to re-evaluate how did it go.
Eric: Well, one of the things that I would say for the listeners is that if at any point you want to get back to a different episode I highly recommend it, because as Jeff is pointing out, he’s moving in a sequential manner and it will give you the ability to kind of understand where he’s at. We love that you’re here now. We also want to make sure that you’re following along to get the most benefit.
Jeff: And real quick. One thing about recognizing patterns and then getting into the navigating emotions. You don’t know how to do that unless you know where you start. And that’s the emotional literacy which was the last podcast.
Eric: That’s a great thing to try to bring out. So as I look at this thing you said earlier, about how you react and all that. And then you mentioned respond and maybe some of the listeners are like me. Sometimes I think to respond or react, isn’t that the same thing?
Jeff: No. They both result in an outcome. You come to an outcome. But reacting and coming to an outcome, there’s no forethought, there’s no real thinking about what the outcome is going to be. I’m confronted with this. This is what I’m going to do. And good luck.
Eric: So I’m angry so I’m going to scream.
Jeff: What’s the outcome going to be?, Well I’m going to make everybody angry around me but you’re not thinking that when you’re screaming at someone or just whatever. Road rage. You get angry, you can get angry, and unless you ram into that car, the only outcome you’re going to have is I’m sitting here angry. And we know that that’s not good for you. So, somebody cut you off and you respond, you think “Well you know what, nobody got hurt. He’s one car ahead of me. He’s going to get there two seconds before I do. Why is this bothering me?” You’re not sitting there stewing anymore. You’re actually, you’ve defused that situation by responding. And it’s the same way with a big work situation or a family issue or whatever. When you respond it’s going to be thought out and once again this is not something that might take…it might take weeks to do. But most of the time it’s going to be in the spur of the moment right when it’s happening. And once again that’s a neural pathway that you developed when you’re confronted with things.
Eric: So, I’m thinking in terms of what emotional intelligence is, you know, we raise our intelligence. We increased the chances of being more of a responder than a reactor. So once again the homework. What would say if someone could take something away from today’s podcast, that they could do that might help them along as it relates to recognizing patterns and the other things we mentioned.
Jeff: It’s not complicated. I know we all have busy lives so I don’t want to burden people. Just pay attention to the reactions that you have. When you’re in a situation, pay attention to see if you always respond that way. Then look at it. “Did I get the outcome I wanted?” That’s what we’re looking for to get the outcome that’s a win-win for everybody in this situation. So just take a minute. You know, pay attention to that. Also, pay attention to how you’re reacting to other people. “Did I push that person’s button?” Because that’s the easy thing to do. So just once again, you can think about it, you don’t have to write it down. If you want to, write it down, so you can record and to see. That’s perfectly fine too. But just be aware, that’s most of what we want to do.
Eric: Well, we appreciate you tuning in today everyone. This is Eric Pennington with the Spirit Of EQ, with Jeff from the Spirit Of EQ. Have a great day.
Jeff: Hi, this is Jeff again. I just want to let everybody know that if you have any questions or want more information about anything we’ve talked about just send me a quick e-mail. My e-mail is Jeff @ spirit of EQ dot com, and I’ll get right back with you. Thanks.
You can contact Jeff or Eric via email at email@example.com.