Emotional Intelligence in Motivating Change

Motivating a change is the hallmark of emotional intelligence (EI). It must be established in the mind as both a thought and feeling always requiring cultivation.

Thinking (objective) and feeling (subjective) make up the mind-body-spirit connection in us all. Motivational interviewing (MI) is the process of discovering, recovering, and implementing solutions to problems (health issues) utilizing (EI).

Most behavioral analysts (providers, therapists, families) or anyone, who want (desire) change, primarily focus attention (questions) on perception (thinking) rather than feeling (emotion) to persevere forward into better results. Emotion (feeling) drives movement.

Feeling (subjectivity) is more influential than theory (thinking). It is incumbent to listen to find what a person values (believes). Then establish, why it is important for them to make a change. In doing so, individuals will drive their own motivation because it feels right (important to them or others).

A major challenge is most individuals do not feel the need for change. Anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality and lower quality of life (lifestyle) are associated with worse outcomes-feelings (Rebora et al., 2021). These negative patterns affect our feeling naturally (negatively), consequently, why change? The last thing most people want to do is surrender their suffering (victim vs. victor) mentality.

Motivational interviewing can be effective in different patient populations to promote self-care. The pain-pleasure principle is applicable in all circumstances, therefore, generating an emotion of pain (fear), has been used for centuries, to move people to act in ways they normally would not do.

A delicate balance of negative consequences (results of action or non-action) and positive reinforcement of what can be gained, is the method for behavior change (influence).

People in general will do what is in their own self-interest. As providers for change, it is essential to make people feel invested in the decision. They must assume the responsibility, accountability, and consequences for their choices.

Paradigms can shift in an instant with enlightenment, contrast, and connected communication. These are the “how” and “why” in getting people to do what is in their own self-interest, by making them feel it is their decision. In fact, it is emotional intelligence (discernment) that moves behavior.

References

Rebora, P., Spedale, V., Occhino, G., Luciani, M., Alvaro, R., Vellone, E., Riegel, B., & Ausili, D. (2021). Effectiveness of motivational interviewing on anxiety, depression, sleep quality and quality of life in heart failure patients: Secondary analysis of the Motivate-HF randomized controlled trial. Quality of Life Research, 30(7), 1939–1949. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-021-02788-3

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