Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Daniel Goleman @ Sharp Brains

Daniel Goleman is the man most people associate with emotional intelligence. He's a highly sought-after author and speaker, so it is quite impressive that Sharp Brains got him to do a guest post.

Here is the beginning of his article, called The Power of Mindsight:

How can we free ourselves from prisons of the past?

-- By Daniel Goleman

When you were young, which of these did you feel more often?

a) No matter what I do, my parents love me;

b) I can’t seem to please my parents, no matter what I do;

c) My parents don’t really notice me.

The answers to such questions don’t just reveal truths about our childhood. They also tend to predict how we act in our closest relationships as adults.

Our childhood shapes our brain in many ways—and so it determines our most basic ways of reacting to others, for better and for worse. When parents consistently practice empathy toward a child—that is, they tune in to the way that child views and feels about her world—they help instill in that child a sense of security and an ability to empathize with others later in life. But when parents act dismissively toward a child, they can make it harder for that child to be in touch with her emotions and connect with other people.

Daniel Siegel has done years of research to support these conclusions. Siegel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, founded the field of “interpersonal neurobiology,” which explains the brain basis for our habits of bonding with others. His research shows how we can overcome emotional disadvantages that might have arisen from difficult childhoods.

Read the rest

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