Emotional intelligence is essential if you want to thrive in your professional life and personal relationships. We all know about the intelligent quotient (IQ) which measures the cognitive abilities and functions of an individual. Emotional intelligence can also be measured by the emotional quotient (EQ), and its benefits are less known and appreciated by most people.
How often do you recognize the emotion you are feeling?
Can you manage those feelings without allowing them to take over? Do you find yourself reacting impulsively without conscious choice of action and regret it afterwards?
Do you know how to motivate yourself to reach goals and overcome challenges?
Are you able to read and sense the emotions of others and respond effectively?
By definition, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as others. But in reality it is much more than that. Our behaviour and actions are based on our emotions which arise from thoughts. So thoughts, emotions and actions are all linked together, and they drive us in our everyday life.
Anxiety is instigated by overwhelming emotions and compulsive thoughts such as worry, fear and insecurity. Most often, people are not even aware of their compulsive thoughts, feelings and behavioural patterns, and end up making choices based on fear rather than what is best for them.
If people are taught from childhood how to recognize their emotions and express them, they would find it easier in adulthood to deal with stress and emotional turmoil which certain situations bring about. Teaching kids how to cultivate emotional intelligence can also help when dealing with emotional trauma. Unhealed emotional pain can lead to developing unhealthy habits and personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), social anxiety disorder, codependency, low self-esteem, addictions, amongst others.
Emotional intelligence is a dynamic aspect of one’s psyche and behavioural traits, and can be enhanced with some knowledge and basic skills. Cultivating emotional intelligence helps in maintaining a positive outlook on life and can yield significant benefits, from personal happiness and general well-being to success in a professional context.
Five Pillars of Emotional Intelligence
This is the first step to enhance your emotional intelligence as it comes with introspection and self-evaluation to identify behavioural patterns and emotional aspects of your psychological framework. Self-awareness enables you to identify and differentiate between your emotions which allows you to get to know yourself at a deeper level. People who self-reflect are able to embrace their strengths and positive qualities while also acknowledge their weaknesses without denial. They know what makes them feel good, what activities they enjoy doing and what triggers them and puts them off track. Being able to define what triggers you allows you to take a step back and make better choices for yourself. It also encourages you to engage in activities and sustain healthy relationships rather than going along with whatever life brings you. With proper self-evaluation and reflection, you will be able to tap into your inner self and discover what self-limiting beliefs you have which have been limiting you and driving you to make unhealthy choices based on fear and insecurities. This way you can work on these qualities to improve them and optimize yourself to live a happier and healthier life. Being able to identify your own emotions also helps you to identify emotions in others which strengthens your communication skills as you learn how to react and respond effectively in different circumstances.
Self-regulation is the ability to manage your negative and unpleasant feelings in different circumstances and react effectively. This should not be confused with repressing your emotions, but communicating and expressing your emotions in a healthy manner, and knowing the ideal time when to express yourself.
For example, if you are at work and you are facing a difficult situation with your manager or colleague and you start feeling upset, it would be inappropriate to let your anger take over and act impulsively due to feeling overwhelmed with the emotion. It would be way more beneficial to acknowledge what you are feeling and express why you are feeling angry or hurt calmly. This way, you have a much better chance of obtaining your desired outcome rather than raging and creating a big drama.
The same goes for personal relationships. Having an argument with your romantic partner, friend or family member is part of being human. Sometimes we end up getting lost in the emotion and throw a tantrum or say hurtful things which we didn’t really mean and end up feeling worse afterwards. It would be much beneficial to have a calm conversation where you can identify and express what you are feeling and reduce the friction. It’s natural for human beings to act defensively when they feel that they are being attacked, so you have a higher chance of being understood and comforted if you are able to take control of your emotions and express them as a healthy adult instead of throwing tantrums like a toddler.
A person with high emotional intelligence has a personal drive to improve, achieve goals and create a better life. This cultivates positive feelings and general well-being and makes it easier to overcome challenges to reach one’s goals. A person who is not motivated has a bigger chance of feeling apathetic, bored and can lead to depression as life starts looking dull, mundane and without meaning.
It is important to discover what motivates you and understand the deeper meaning of your aspirations. This helps you stay committed and optimistic when faced with challenges. Ask yourself questions and dig deeper to identify the meaning behind your goals, it will be easier to sustain your energetic motivation during set-backs.
Visualize how your life would look like after achieving what you are working for and think about how you will feel when you get there. Cultivating the feeling will help you get into that state of being which is a powerful technique to push you to continue moving forward out of your comfort zone and align your actions with your vision.
Empathy is often confused with sympathy. Sympathy is when you understand what another person is going through, and you might feel sorrow or pity for the person. However, empathy goes deeper as it is the ability to understand and share what another person is feeling which strengthens the connection between each other.
An empathic person considers other people’s feelings before reacting in social situations. To cultivate a high level of empathy, one cannot be judgemental as it would interfere with the ability to feel and perceive what the other person is going through. Therefore, it is essential to be open to new ideas and perspectives in order to connect with someone on that level. That’s why people feel better when they are speaking with a dear friend or a therapist whom they trust as they can feel that the listener is actively listening and truly understanding what they are going through.
People with a high level of empathy are naturally more compassionate and feel the need to help others and contribute to their well-being. They hold value in uplifting others and willingly put things aside to be able to connect authentically and be present for the other person.
We are social beings and having good social skills makes it easier to interact in a social context. Social anxiety is very common and it can hold a person back from reaching one’s potential depending on the severity of the anxiety.
Low self-esteem plays an important part in this as people with low self-esteem struggle when socializing and end up either entirely avoiding social interaction or overcompensating to hide what they are feeling. This kind of trait can also lead to engaging in unhealthy habits, giving in to peer pressure and sticking to unhealthy toxic relationships in general. In a professional context, one could dream of becoming a leader and possess the intelligence and capabilities to do so, however struggles when communicating in large groups of people and fears public speaking. If one does not manage to overcome this fear, it would inhibit the individual from reaching certain goals and manifestations.
The above-mentioned skills combined help people build up solid basic life skills and cultivate emotional intelligence. This enables them to reach their goals and maintain healthy relationships with themselves and also others. People with these basic life skills have a higher chance of succeeding in whatever they put their mind to, despite struggling with certain self-limiting beliefs.
Being aware of your own thoughts and emotions allows you to address the self-limiting beliefs and cultivate self-love as you embrace the good qualities within yourself. Being able to regulate yourself allows you to overcome unpleasant feelings and set-backs, and move forward even though it feels uncomfortable. Self-motivation empowers you to overcome present challenges and strengthens your self-confidence which makes it easier for you to manifest your vision. Empathy makes you more compassionate and strengthens your communication skills and connection with others. And finally social skills allow you to resolve conflict in a calm and rational approach, thrive in a social environment and comfortably share your ideas and opinions while maintaining solid boundaries. If everyone worked on enhancing their emotional intelligence, the world would be in a much better place.
It is very useful to have this skill, especially in a society where provocative people can get in the way, who will do anything to dishonor, humiliate you in front of everyone, and by shame I mean a bright manifestation of emotions.