Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Emotionally Intelligent Ways To Go #Green Without Getting The Blues

If you're like me, you find some resistance in yourself or in others to adopting environmentally appropriate changes in your life. This resistance is understandable when the changes involve cost and inconvenience, but it can persist even when the changes have side benefits such as saving money.
Why is this?
Change can be easier when the problem is lack of knowledge or a lack of resources because then we know what to do: learn more or earn more. But when I know what to do and am able to do it, but just can get it done, the question may be emotional in nature, and that's not really susceptible to easy solution.
I've found that deploying the "Emotional Intelligence" techniques can help:
  1. Reduce stress. It is not helpful to stress out over saving the planet. I am not a bad, bad person if I forget to recycle a piece of paper; I may be a bit of a dumbsh1t, but mostly I just missed a chance to score a few points in the game of life. There will be other chances coming soon and I'll spot them better if I'm not worrying.
  2. Recognize and manage emotions. Feelings are not always convenient, but they can't be ignored.  For example, when I cut back on unnecessary servings of meat or prepared foods, sometimes it reminds me of the bad old days when I was poor. I associate certain savings with poverty and so avoid them. OK, this is irrational but so what? You can't wish feelings away; you have to take steps.  "I am prosperous. I am not cutting back here because I am poor; I am choosing to save because it's what I choose to do. It is a sign of my power!"  This may sound all New-Age-y and whoo-whoo, but if it works, why not?
  3. Connect with others using nonverbal communication. Smiles are cheap and effective. When someone recycles, turns off an unnecessary light, or chooses to walk rather than to drive, smile! You can make a bigger thing of it if you want, but at the very least, make your body language as green as your intentions so that people feel happy doing what you are hoping they'll do.
  4. Use humor and play to deal with challenges. Mary Poppins was right!
    Fun works! Making environmentally responsible actions into a game or a challenge means you're more likely actually to do them.
  5. Resolve conflicts positively and with confidence. It's really easy for me to try hectoring people, including myself, into virtuous behavior; it's also very annoying and not very helpful. It's not even helpful to hector myself into not hectoring myself! Instead, I'm looking ahead to the goal and feeling good about moving toward it stronger - now I find myself doing it!
My goal for this first quarter of 2012 is to use the above techniques to improve my environmental responsibility in the area of food waste. This is a subject about which I have all the facts I need and all the resources I need, so the problem is probably just one of attitude or emotion.
Wish me luck! 
    I got thinking about the above as I pondered this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:

    This week, please share road blocks to green living. For example, perhaps you'd really like to compost but don't. We'd like to know why. Maybe you don't recycle ... let us know why. We're looking for all the reasons for NOT adopting a green activity. If you're not struggling with any road blocks at this time, then please share ones which you've heard from others. For example, one of the most common reasons is that it's too expensive.

    Then ...

    Take a look at the road blocks shared and offer solutions. For example, to people who say green living is too expensive, we might share examples of how green living is actually frugal. The idea of this challenge is to help us all find solutions and "bust" all excuses for not living green.

    I like this challenge, because it's lead me to consider what is probably my biggest roadblock: myself. Fortunately, it's the roadblock over which I have the most control as well!

    1 comment:

    Small Footprints said...

    Happy New Year to you, my friend!

    Oh it's so true ... sometimes it's so hard to just do it. I had a writing professor who suggested that when we begin a project we start by marking up the paper ... it would help us get beyond that first step. I think about that when I have trouble "just doing it". And here's the thing ... sometimes, once we begin, it doesn't seem so daunting and we wonder why it took us so long to get going. The list you've provided is so helpful ... not just for removing ourselves as roadblocks but for life in general. Attitude is everything, right?