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What is it like to be in the room with a person who is suffering so terribly that he or she is choosing that moment to die? A few months later I received this email that answered my question. It was from my friend Mark, whose dad, Ted, was also a friend of mine for more than thirty years. I had helped Ted bury his wife three years before. Not long after that Ted's health declined dramatically. He was often in pain and exhausted and spoke of wanting to die nearly every day. He was a retired attorney, and although in his nineties, he knew the law, including the End of Life Option law, and his son Mark did too. The day had arrived for Ted to end his life as he wished. In order to do her job well, Max needs a lot of support from her coworkers. They're supposed to provide her with detailed information on each project, completed application forms, and clean, well-written drafts. Often, though, Max doesn't get that information on time, leaving her scrambling to assemble what she needs herself, while a looming deadline and an impatient boss breathe down her neck. She regularly works eighty- to ninety-hour weeks, and seems constantly to be at her wit's end. These proposals have to be perfect, but I can't rely on anyone else to check them carefully enough, Max says. Every government agency that we work with has different requirements. Sometimes it will be something as specific as requiring that we sign our forms in blue ink, not black. But the people I work with miss this stuff all the time, and my manager doesn't actually manage them. I knew Max had problems with overwork and overcommitment when I heard her complaining, for probably the tenth time, about having logged fifty hours at work in a span of three days. Motivation/drive -- in the context of EQ, drive extends beyond intrinsic motivators such as knowledge and truth and relates to tenacity. It taps into passion or propensity to continue the pursuit of goals with persistence. Social awareness -- suspending all judgement and seeking to recognise and understand the emotional states and makeup of others.

It's having awareness that everything you say or do has the power to impact, for better or worse, everyone around you. Social regulation/skills -- as the external culmination of EQ in action, this relates to the way we communicate with and treat others. It's having an ability to influence and offer perspective around the emotional clarity of others, and proficiently taking ownership of managing all relationships and networks. Looking at EQ through the filters of this framework there are patterns that emerge. Upon reflection you may even identify which may be your strengths, or conversely areas of opportunity to work on: Our emotional states and moods, checked or unchecked, positive or negative, play a vital role in our conscious response choices, as opposed to auto reactions. The act of pushing so hard to get the meds, and the conversations, and the trainings and all that--I put aside my thoughts on the gravity of what I was doing and just focused on getting through it. I went into the bathroom off the room where Dad was sitting. I put on the mask and gloves and I mixed the meds. I went back into the room with my sister Rebecca, my dad, and the hospice nurse. I noticed how frazzled she always seemed to be, how irritation about her job had turned to anger and despair. Her typical workday involves writing and editing proposals for hours, then coming home, ordering takeout, and collapsing in front of the TV. Often, she's so exhausted that she forgets to eat the dinner she's ordered. Her once-beloved hobbies, like witchcraft and embroidery, often go neglected. She sometimes schedules massages and vacations to help herself decompress, but on a day-to-day basis she's irritable and short-tempered, and often remarks on the joylessness of her life. I figured Max's intense lifestyle must have damaged her health, so I asked her about it. She said, This fucking job ruined my health and my personal life. Last year I had an inflamed gallbladder, but I didn't take any time off work because I knew my manager would pick apart my reasons for needing it and guilt me into coming in to the office. By the time I went to the hospital, I was vomiting constantly and had to crawl on my hands and knees to the toilet instead of walking. They also have an impact on our own health and wellbeing as well as the quality of relationships in all aspects of our world.

Negative emotional states tend to increase blood pressure and heart rate; In other words, the same hardwiring associated with a typical fight-or-flight response, even when not warranted. Positive emotional states have a tendency to improve immune function; And so our emotional states and moods have the power to perpetuate cycles of behaviour and perceptions of value. Inspirational speaker and author Esther (Abraham) Hicks would say 'a belief is an idea reinforced with emotion and feeling that you've held onto for a long time'. This is why a simple idea to improve overall EQ may be finding -- authentically -- things, people and situations that make you feel good. Take your attention away from the energy-sucking black holes. We all experience a vast range of feelings on a daily basis. Some can describe them in more detail than others. Then I started the process of putting the meds in front of him because he had to take them. After an hour of pre-meds, I brought him the final vial and said, Daddy, once we start here, we have to move quickly. You need to drink this in under two minutes, okay? You have to move quickly at this phase, as the dose must get in there or else the patient is unconscious but has not consumed quite enough to end it quickly. My dad was like a machine and got most of it down; His breathing wasn't labored, as is often the case with patients passing away under morphine. They opened me up and found out that my gallbladder was completely dead. The surgeon told me it was the most decayed one he'd ever seen, and asked me why I hadn't come to them a month earlier. Then he gave me a big lecture about how I needed to take more sick days at work. When I met Max, we were both aspiring writers, sharing little snippets of stories and essays with each other on Tumblr. The beauty of Max's writing immediately made me want to get to know her better.

There was a calmness and sense of perspective in her work back then, which I just don't see in her life these days. She's an intense person (a quality I admire), but her job has made her cranky and brittle. She doesn't have patience for inefficiency or anything that strikes her as foolish. Her temper can flare at something as simple as the pizza delivery person forgetting to bring ranch dressing. As Hermione Granger said to Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 'Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have! Negative emotions needn't necessarily be a bad thing. As the Dalai Lama points out, feelings are not destructive in themselves: they only become destructive when their intensity is out of proportion to the situation or when they arise in situations that do not warrant them. In fact there's potentially nothing more intimidating than someone in full control of their emotions very calmly stating, 'You have no idea. It tends to demand attention and respect way more than pots and pans flying across a room or fists flying through the air. Emotional expression directed as physical violence is merely one among a plethora of destructive intensities that are all too frequently way out of proportion when applied to situations. I held on to him tightly and kept my hand on his throat feeling his pulse. The hospice nurse got out her stethoscope and confirmed. At that point it just hit me that I had facilitated my father's death. What I had done was so totally irreversible and it was so abrupt, that space between talking to him and laughing and loving him to he's gone. All night Monday and all day Tuesday I was pretty wiped out and thinking over and over WTF had I done? The point of all this is that after talking to one of the agency counselors and to our friend Lisa (an internist for a lot of aging patients), I realized that I had the wrong perspective, totally the wrong perspective, and here's the really heavy shit but the piece that has allowed me to be free: My dad knew this was an impossibly difficult thing to ask of someone, but he asked it of me. She can see the toll it's taken on her relationships, her health, and her capacity to enjoy her hobbies. Max is also very aware that she places unfair expectations on herself, and that she shouldn't force herself to regularly work twice as many hours as her job supposedly requires. Like Max, I used to work to the point of exhaustion and illness, and had no idea how to make myself stop.

Intellectually, I knew I was doing too much, but my fear of missing a deadline or seeming lazy kept me plugging away without breaks. I didn't learn to change my ways until overwork utterly destroyed my health. It was February of 2014, and I was putting the final touches on my dissertation. I'd known since I was a teenager that I wanted to get a PhD in psychology, and I was finally close to attaining it. Earlier in the article I referenced that the behavioural layer of how we function has a tendency to remain a preferred consistent throughout life. Our preferences may lend themselves to specific skills or traits. We discussed that our why or intrinsic motivation changes according to circumstances, evolving personal growth or different stages of life. Some preferences on how to function, or indeed intrinsic drivers, may naturally lend themselves to different aspects of EQ. Emotional intelligence is a skill that doesn't remain static. You can always keep improving through practical strategies consistently put into action. He knew that even with the emotion and the misery and the sheer terror of what I was going to have to do, he asked me to do it for him because he knew I would come through somehow, and help bring an end to what he was suffering. He was really struggling with what they call existential pain, and I totally get it. The humiliation I saw him endure and the horror of being trapped, unable to end what he prayed constantly would end, must have been unbearable. He never wavered and he made it clear to everyone that he wanted this and wasn't second-guessing anything, and he was at peace with his decision and was just praying it would be delivered to him. He knew I would do it and he knew I would get through it. From the BS paperwork hell, dealing with all the different doctors, the struggle to find the pharmacy, to the unreal experience of separating myself from the horror of mixing my own father's death, I understand now that I have to accept that he knew he'd taught me well. By all the wisdom and love and guidance with which he had nurtured me, and by the example he set through his whole life, he knew he'd formed me into someone that could get through this awful thing he'd asked me to do for him. But he didn't want it to be a burden that tormented me for the rest of my life. I spent hours and hours in the lab, analyzing data long after my peers had gone home to their partners and children. I found an apartment two blocks from Loyola University, where I was studying, so I wouldn't waste any time commuting to the office.