From Self-Concern to Other-Concern

The second recipe this month is about self-awareness as much as it is about awareness of others.

by Greta Rossi – Recipes for Wellbeing, March 24, 2020
Woman meditating

For the past two weeks or so, not a single day has gone by without receiving a call, email or message from someone around the globe asking how I am in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Italy. The genuine outpouring of concern and compassion is truly touching. And it doesn’t really matter whether this person is a close friend or someone I hear from only a few times a year – knowing that they spared a few moments of their day to think of me and to proactively reach out is enough.

They don’t need to have an answer – truth is, nobody has a magic wand to know what the world will look like after this crisis. They don’t need to have the “right words” either – what is the right thing to say anyway when the elderly, who represent the collective memory of a population, are dying alone with this virus? What really matters is that they chose to reach out and connect. They chose to expand their circle of care and empathy to take me in for a moment.

Deciding to willingly reach out to and connect with others to make them feel seen and heard is one of the most courageous actions you can take in these troubled times. This is, of course, on top of respecting all the guidelines implemented by your government to delay the spread of this virus – please do take them seriously! That’s because right now, the surreal silence in our streets and the forced spaciousness between people have a heavy texture. But through a kind word and a genuine concern for their wellbeing, you can bring a bit of love and care that makes their heaviness less heavy. This is what it is to show up for others. And in a way, it is also what it means to show up for yourself as you expose yourself to receive their vulnerability and handle it with care and compassion.

Qualities such as compassion, empathy, and care that I have mentioned above are all essential elements to develop your EQ, or emotional intelligence. You might know about IQ but you might be less familiar with EQ. According to author and science journalist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is “the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in our relationship” (Working with Emotional Intelligence). Quite simply, it is about understanding what we want and need; what others want and need; and to use this understanding to manage our own emotions and use them to support others around us in meaningful and mindful ways. It is about self-awareness as much as it is about awareness of others.

Cultivating your emotional intelligence increases:

  1. Your emotional awareness, which is the ability to recognise your emotions and their impact on you;
  2. Your self-assessment, which means knowing your strengths and limits; and
  3. Your self-confidence and self-worth.

Emotional intelligence also increases the quality of your relationships because it boosts:

  1. Your self-control, which is the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses;
  2. Your trustworthiness, which is about being perceived as a honest and reliable person; and
  3. Your adaptability and flexibility in handling change.

This makes emotional intelligence relevant – essential actually! – for a more servant and empowering leadership. To activate your EQ at work, I would like to invite you to try out this quick EQ check-in practice with your team at the beginning of your next meeting or workshop. The practice has been adapted from Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organizations by Dr Robert K. Cooper and Ayman Sawaf and it allows individuals and groups to develop self-awareness and empathy. Because, as someone reminds us, “the extent to which you are able to transform your ‘self-concern’ into ‘other-concern’ will determine your effectiveness in getting others to follow along” (Anonymous).

You can access the full guidelines here. The theme for the next month is Active April so the next blog post will look at ways to boost your wellbeing through physical activity.

About Greta and Recipes for Wellbeing

Greta Rossi is a changemaker involved in multiple not-for-profit initiatives, including Recipes for WellbeingAkasha InnovationPitch Your Failure, and ChangemakerXchange. Recipes for Wellbeing works towards shifting the culture of changemaking to include a focus on holistic wellbeing to enable anyone to contribute more effectively to creating positive change in the world. From freely accessible wellbeing recipes, through wellbeing talks and workshops, to immersive wellbeing labs, we make wellbeing accessible to changemakers and their teams. If you’d like to host a talk, workshop, or retreat for your team or organisation, reach out to us at

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