What is Emotional Intelligence? And why should I care?

What is Emotional Intelligence? And why should I care?

Mainstream science is beginning to accept more and more, due to successful research, the importance of ‘emotional intelligence.’ You may ask, but ‘what is emotional intelligence and why should I care?’

The definition of emotional intelligence means having the ability to recognize, direct, and positively express emotions by involving the heart as well as the mind. It has never been a secret that emotions play a huge role in our overall well-being. However, it has taken the scientific community time to wake up to this obvious fact and to be able to conduct experiments to verify it.

Emotions were not considered important by the scientific community for hundreds of years, as they considered that humans were superior to ‘feeling’ animals because of our ability to think and reason. Any person who expresses emotional intelligence can understand that it is this ‘thinking’ and ‘not feeling’ that is the cause of many of the world’s problems today. So, Why is emotional intelligence important for me?

Can I improve my emotional intelligence? What are the benefits to me of positively connecting with my emotions?

It is feelings, especially empathy with others, that can guide us towards being the best and doing the best we can and are the driving force behind most actions. When positively connected with emotional intelligence, people as individuals and groups are better able to work towards co-existing in harmony with each other, with nature and the whole environment.

There is no downside to learning how to be emotionally intelligent and the rewards to everyone are immense. The necessary skills to develop self-awareness, leading to emotional intelligence, can be learned by all of us and positive results can be achieved as quickly as we allow ourselves to incorporate the practices into our daily lives.

Feelings originate from our heart and have much greater power than our thoughts so are therefore the best way to manifest our desires. The stronger our connection to our heart, the more connected we become to the reality of life that is unfolding before us. Whereas a disconnected, unappreciated, heart will not sustain us with a long, happy or healthy life.

If we neglect our emotions, our physical, mental, and souls aspects will also suffer, as ALL are intimately connected. Also, if we allow our emotions to control us, we are just reacting to events instead of acting in an intelligent way. The main benefit of developing emotional intelligence allows us to live a life based on consideration of a variety of factors, instead of mindlessly reacting based on a single outdated unconscious program that we inherited when we were younger.

How do I develop my emotional intelligence? What’s in it for me?

Developing emotional intelligence allows us to be at peace with ourselves and our environment. People who are not controlled by their emotions are more fulfilled and satisfied with their lives. Self love and appreciation for life is the key to feeling fulfilled and luckily for us, love is constantly flowing towards us from the Creator. However, due to free-will and ignorance, most people do not understand how to receive this love. Their hearts have hardened over time due to fear which restricts the amount of love they are able to receive. The way we free our heart is to allow it to be submerged in the constant love that is always abundantly available for all of us. We do this by living in the moment, with joy, and by loving and accepting ourselves unconditionally, here and now.

Thinking positively and lovingly, all the time is a great idea, but by itself will not heal the damage that we are harboring deep within. We each need to be brave enough to go within and explore the aspects of our nature that we would prefer to remain hidden in the deep dark recesses of our being.

By bypassing our reactive responses and becoming aware of how we are feeling and why we have these feelings at any given time, we are provided with the opportunity to transform ‘negative’ feelings into positive outcomes. By moving away from ‘ignorance is bliss’ to accepting responsibility for our current state of being, we can empower ourselves. This gives us the ability to transform situations to promote mutually beneficial outcomes for all involved. What’s in it for me? A better, more satisfying, life experience!

Emotional intelligence and relationships: Again, why should I care?

Our heart energy is the key to successful relationships as social connections depend upon the emotional acceptance of individuals within any group. First, we must accept ourselves and then those around us. This results in healthy, happy individuals and families living within a community, city, and country.

Presently the majority of people are out of touch with their feelings and this has led to many of the social problems we experience today within our communities. We have lost the ability to know what we are feeling at any given moment and therefore cannot empathize with others. This results in a breakdown of relationships with those whom we share the planet, country, city and even our home.

By avoiding, or trying to control emotions such as pain, anger and discomfort, the ability to feel all emotions becomes distorted and the gift of being in touch with our emotional self is diminished or lost. Many distractions can be used to avoid acknowledging how we are feeling. We may use mindless entertainment, drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviors. We may also just disconnect from feeling by numbing ourselves to all emotional experiences. Others sometimes choose to continually use one emotional response for all situations- like constantly joking around to cover up their fear and insecurities.

I don’t like my feelings: They often get me in trouble.

We need our emotions to help us to make many decisions in daily life. Some consequences of not appropriately connecting with our emotions include:

  • It is impossible to control one emotion alone. So if we attempt to shut down anger and fear, we will also lose the ability to feel love, happiness, joy and all other emotions.
  • We lose the ability to communicate effectively and therefore will not be able to build strong, healthy, relationships.
  • Emotions, when suppressed, do not go away. The energy builds up and if it is not dissipated appropriately it will come back to ‘bite us in the ass.’ Energy blockages reveal themselves as problems in our life and may manifest as depression, anxiety, fear, confusion, self-doubt or in many other ways. Therefore, it is far more beneficial to appropriately deal with emotions as they arise rather than actively using energy to suppress them.
  • When shut down or suppressed, we cannot have the benefit of our emotions to guide us in daily life and therefore the decisions on what we like and don’t like are not so clear. How do we choose who to love and spend our lives with when we cannot feel love? By ‘not feeling’ we are unable to maximize the potential with the information that would be available to us if we were using our emotions wisely.

We should care because: on a personal level emotions, when checked, can override our thoughts causing us to react in ways that do not serve our highest good. They can even influence our behavior in ways that are against our better judgment. This can have direct negative consequences by transforming our key relationships, friendships, working relationships or any social situation we may find ourselves in.

Working with emotional intelligence: On the plus side!

By becoming emotionally intelligent we can take control over emotions that have caused us problems in the past. This knowledge can be used to change our moods, our attitudes and remove self-defeating habits from our lives, therefore, allowing us to understand ourselves on a more intimate level.

Anyone can learn and then apply these skills in ways to eliminate or reduce stress so that our body is able to function optimally. This aids our body to remain healthy and within its comfort zone even when under pressure. Our mind also benefits by remaining clear and calm and does not become overwhelmed with thoughts that are not beneficial ‘at this moment.’

The rewards of learning emotional balance will impact upon every aspect of our life, and as we learn more about our feelings we are less likely to be overwhelmed by fear, anger, helplessness, depression, etc. By being calmer, more relaxed and more in tune with what is happening around us we naturally become happier, healthier, and more productive.

My emotions scare me: How can I improve emotional intelligence?

For some, the idea of being connected to their emotions at all times may be terrifying. This is understandable if they have very little control over the way they react to situations because their emotions overwhelm their ability to take control in a productive way. However, fighting these strong emotions only focus’s thoughts on them and causes them to linger.

However, if we stop obsessing about them, even the strongest emotions of anger, sadness and fear will lose their ability to control us. Learning how to identify what causes these strong emotions and practicing ‘stress reduction techniques’ will enable us to break free from any destructive cycle that we may have been previously caught in. For most people, before they can move forward, this means acknowledging factors in their past that caused these emotions to appear.

It is important to realize that even the emotions we perceive to be negative have a critical role to play in our lives. Acknowledging this is taking a huge step forward to accepting our emotional selves, and then we can use this information to learn more about ourselves so we can move towards producing positive outcomes in all situations.

So, should i be scared of my emotions? No! We need our emotions. They are our friend. For example, while fear can be debilitating and separates us from others, it can also alert us to danger and serve to save our lives. Sadness, leading to depression, is a sign that we need to slow down, stop thinking too much and allow ourselves to trust our vulnerability and feel our emotions in order to heal ourselves. The upside of some anger is that it can mobilize us and then force us to take purposeful action in a creative way.

Many of the problems we face on a daily basis are not actually life-threatening, but people often ‘overreact’ to perceived threats thereby placing unnecessary strain on their central nervous system. It is far more beneficial for us to learn to manage the stress and the related feelings of dis-ease so we can remain feeling safe, happy and energized.

Even if a threat is not genuine, but only perceived, we often react as if it is real. When we are feeling anxious, stressed, insecure, or depressed our central nervous system protects us by shutting down or limiting some of the body’s other functions to prepare us to flee or fight. This limits the tools we have available for a more thoughtful response.

We only really need to flee or fight if our life is in danger. If a situation is less threatening, like being reviewed by the boss at work causes stress, it would definitely serve us better to be able to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of stress to have our mind clear and fully functioning so we can have a coherent well-structured discussion.

When our mind is running away and thinking against our best interests, we become overwhelmed and our body is put on edge (under stress), creating an environment that compromises our physical health by reducing the body’s natural ability to preserve and repair itself. Sometimes stress, within our comfort zone, can be beneficial as it enables us to perform well under pressure. However, it is when we are stressed too often and beyond our comfort zone that the stress then becomes detrimental to our personal wellbeing. This overflows to affect our relationships with others and the environment around us by preventing us from thinking clearly and acting appropriately.

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I hope by now you understand the downside of not being emotionally intelligence. It limits our ability to react in positive way that would result in better outcomes for us and everyone else. Go here to part 2 of this discussion on emotional intelligence to learn how you can develop and use your emotions to your advantage at all times.

Shared with love and light,

Andrew

About Andrew

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  1. Hi Andrew,
    I really enjoyed reading this post. As a counsellor I have seen numerous instances whereby one does not accept their emotions or address how they got there, so the internal fight they have basically keeps them stuck in that emotional space, leaving them vulnerable to unhealthy reactions. You speak truth and raise really valid points around the need to allow one’s feelings to be there, giving rise to processing them and accepting them, which will lead to a fully, more calm and loving space. I normalize one’s feelings in a counselling session which helps client’s accept them and thus lowers their resistance to them being there, allowing one to process and sit with those feelings. It’s so true that many people find it hard to sit with feelings which lead to numerous mental health conditions. Having a good therapist to work with can help one navigate and find strategies to help sit with the feelings when they are challenging to work through and come out the other side. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Kat. Thanks for contributing to this article. I’m surprised that people you counsel are not accepting their emotions. I wonder who they think their emotions belong to? From your comments, I can see how a good therapist is able to help someone with severe mental health problems cope and return to a normal state of mind. My articles are really for people who already have some understanding that they need help to achieve their goals and to guide them in ways that they are able to help themselves by first accepting responsibility for the current situation that they find themselves in. It takes many different approaches to heal the multitude of issues that humanity is currently facing, and I’m happy that there are people like yourself out there that have way more experience than me. I wish you all the best.
      Kind regards,
      Andrew

  2. This article really kept me thinking about…
    I would say I’ve been practising emotional intelligence ever since I knew how to differentiate right from wrong. Ever since I knew and understood the true meaning behind this words “A lot of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regret.”
    Although I’ve found myself connecting with my emotions, controlling it and not it controlling me, and nurturing it in the best way that I could for a very long time now, recently just because I left my comfort zone I regressed a lot from that.
    It became even more difficult to come in terms with my emotions. I was filled with fears, was very sad, and Oh my God those feelings were so terrifying. I wanted to run away as far as I could, but how can I run away from myself. It is me, and it is what I am. I still can picture them as I’m writing this comment.
    It felt as though I couldn’t even put my emotions into control again, no no, even more like I haven’t for once been able to do so.

    It was not until I became more accepting of my situation, my vulnerabilities, empathizing with them not waiting for others to empathize for me–that wasn’t even working because it was like it’s easier said than done since you aren’t experiencing what I am experiencing–came in terms with my fears; that I became successful at it again.
    This time around, I began to grow better outside my comfort zone and even began to love myself even more with a more optimistic mindset. Of course, it wasn’t achieved in a day. It took days, months, and even years for me to reach the stage I am right now.

    I know by now, have written down a novel, and I just kept typing non-stop. But, what to do, as I kept reading through your article, agreeing with everything you’ve said, I kept reminiscing while seeing my reflection in it.

    Being emotionally intelligent is an ability/trait that is within each an every one of us if only we are willing to surpass our own inner self and open ourselves to it.

    Andrew, I must add, you’ve done a great job with putting down an article like this.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Tohin. Many thanks for sharing your story. It is common for all of us to experience distress when we step out of our comfort zones. We then adjust to this new zone, learn how to cope within it, and then…… grow again! Therefore the cycle repeats. Fantastic. Each time we become stronger and more resilient, and it is easier to adapt when we push beyond our limits. This is what continuous growth and development is all about. Congratulations for being brave enough to keep pursuing personal growth. With much respect,
      Andrew

  3. Great post. I have been reading books about emotional intelligent and it has made a huge difference in applying them in my life.

    1. Hi Thabo. many thanks for taking the time to read my article. It’s good that you are using your knowledge of emotional intelligence to improve your life. Kind regards,
      Andrew

  4. Hi Andrew,

    Really great post. Thanks so much for bringing it out into the mainstream. Emotional intelligence certainly should be taught in schools. They would be much happier places for sure!
    I meditate in the mornings and last thing at night and I always breathe through my heart. If more people accessed their emotions through their heart we would live in a much friendlier world I think. Heart centred relationships are definitely the way to go.

    Thanks again,

    Kev

    1. That’s so true Kevin. Thanks for sharing. Our school systems purposefully take us into thinking from our head and discourage us from using our heartfelt intelligence. If this situation was reversed, the world would quickly become a much happier healthier place. Many thanks,
      Andrew

  5. I’m so glad that I took the time to read this article. I haven’t really been paying attention to my emotional intelligence. This is definitely an area that I need to improve.

    1. Hi Melinda. If you want a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life experience, becoming emotionally intelligent is a sure path to help you succeed.
      Kind regards,
      Andrew

  6. Hi Andrew,
    Well-drafted article. How much drama can we avoid if we could have control over our emotions, learn to face or identify them? How many opportunities have we lost because we couldn’t face the emotional turmoil in some situations? I believe self-knowledge is power. All the alerts that you talked about can really help us in our daily lives.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Thierry. Many thanks for your comments. Yes, self-knowledge is power, and self-improvement gives us the tools to achieve our dreams. Kind regards,
      Andrew

  7. Andrew,
    I love that you mention science and that it has really not even recognized the role emotions play in our lives till just recently. I’ve been learning so much about emotions, frequencies (scientifically measurable), and one’s wellness – and how they go hand in hand. You also mention self-love. This simple concept is SO important. Many people cannot even look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” I encourage those who read this to try, for one whole minute. It proves hard for the majority. So much starts with loving yourself. Society has really taught us to literally despise our bodies… so often I hear people make negative comments about themselves, and that truly feeds into more negativity on a level most don’t realize. I appreciate this article very much, thank you for sharing. I’m sure it will benefit others if they only open their eyes and take a moment to retain the information here.
    Cheers!

    1. Hi Courtney. I very grateful that you took the time to read my article. As you say, society has taught us that self-love is somehow bad. This is really messed up because if we cannot love ourselves, then how can we expect anyone else to ever love us? Our basic education system is in need of a major overhaul. We accept war and poverty, economic manipulation, poisoned foods, and the torture and murder of people and animals as ‘normal.’ If we can, one by one, spread the work that is is OK to love ourselves and others, we will make lasting positive changes in our world. Let’s begin now for the sake of future generations.
      With much love and respect,
      Andrew

  8. Informative post indeed! Most people are depressed and this post helps us deal with our emotions. Yes this should be taught in schools and everyone will be aware how important it is to deal with emotions

    1. Hi, Violet. Yes, it seems that the things we, our parents, and our grandparents, learned at school have not helped us create happy or healthy societies. The main things missing in our education are self-responsibility for our thoughts, emotions, and actions. If we can learn to be emotionally responsible for ourselves first and then show others how, we will soon be living in a world without violence and fear. This is a sure sign of a mature culture compared to the developing culture we currently exist within. Thanks for your comments.
      Kind regards
      Andrew

  9. This is a very good article when it comes to behaving ourselves not only in the family but also in the community as a whole.
    Emotional intelligence should be imparted as a compulsory subject in the schools as well.

    There had been many instances when I lost control over my own emotion and would speak what was not meant to be spoken. Especially it hurt my wife and children when such situations cropped up.
    So I feel that this article has given some insights to manage the stress and the related feelings of disease so we can remain feeling safe, happy and energized.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a sad fact that it is often the ones we love that become the victims of our inability to appropriately deal with our emotions. I agree with you when you say that we should be taught emotional intelligence at school, because, clearly most of us are not learning this very, very, important skill from our families. Kind regards,
      Andrew

  10. Great article and relavant.
    These days most people are controlled by the emotions. As a result, fighting and chaos.
    I totally agree when you said that the problems we face everyday is not life-threatening but people tend to overreact.
    I think it will be great if we all learn how to develop Emotional Intelligence.
    Thanks for sharing this article truly an eye opener.

    1. Hi Mina. Many thanks. I appreciate that you took the time to read my article. Make sure you click on the link to part two. This is where the magic of learning how to become more emotionally intelligent is laid out in an easy to follow method.
      Many thanks,
      Andrew

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