You often hear about one’s IQ, it has been a measure of one’s intelligence for a long time. However it has been argued in the past several decades that IQ alone doesn’t provide us a complete picture of as our emotions can affect our behaviours.
Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
The most publicised model for emotional intelligence was introduced by Daniel Goleman. It focuses on wide array of competencies and skills that drive performance. Goleman uses five main components to emotional intelligence. These are as follows:
1. Self awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strength, weaknesses, drives, values and goals, and use this ability to guide decisions.
2. Self regulation – involves controlling and redirecting disruptive emotions and impulses
3. Social skill – managing relationships to build rapport and networks, and guide people in the desired direction.
4. Empathy – the ability to understand other people’s emotional make up and treating people according to their emotional reactions.
5. Internal motivation – a passion to work for internal reasons, this drives us to achieve goals
So why do we need to understand emotional intelligence? Let’s start with ourselves… To be successful in life we need to drop our emotional baggage. How we feel about ourselves and the world can sabotage our success. As such self awareness and self regulation is a great tool to master.
Unfortunately most of us have a lifelong worth of stories and hurts in our minds that create limiting beliefs. So how are you to change this? There is a lot of research done by Goleman and others in the EI field that suggest that the way one understands and manages their emotions provides the basis to success. So everything we do is based on our emotional intelligence and maturity.
This is actually not a new theory, Plato has mentioned it 2000 years ago! Except we have forgotten it over time as our being was steered toward rational thinking rather than understanding and dealing with our emotions.
So what we need to do, is harmonise our heads with our hearts, and to do that we must understand how to use our emotions intelligently. How does our emotional brain work?
The area in our brain that controls emotions is the limbic system. This system employs a structure of reward and punishment which is expressed in our feelings. In some cases we feel limitless and free and in other we feel inadequate.
As Goleman says: ‘the design of the brain means that we very often have little or no control over when we are swept by emotion, nor over what emotion it will be. But we can have some say in how long the emotion will last.’ This line of thought suggests that we can take control of our emotions, should we choose to deal with them.
However, most people tend to struggle with their emotions, this is not a fault of our own, we have been conditioned to do this, as such we end up suppressing them. In such cases people develop techniques to do so, either by detaching, distracting or altering our moods. If we choose the latter addictions form to maintain inner stability.
When we look at the mood that needs to be altered, we often find that the root of the behaviour is shame, along with large dose of hurt and loneliness. Because we are not aware of the existence of these feelings we are unaware how they end up driving our lives! What the addict wants to avoid by not dealing with their feelings is the solution as it often would mean experiencing these emotions fully. Usually this is too gut-wrenching for them to consider. It is easy to say that they are too scared to look inside, but the reality is that most people don’t realise that they have an addiction as it is not always drugs or alcohol…. look at the shopaholic or the workaholic as an example.
It is important to realise that just because we do not let our emotions out it doesn’t mean that they are not there. Once emotion has been generated within our bodies it will not go away till it is expressed. There are six primal pools of emotions:
As we suppress an emotion it gets added to its pool. Imagine it like a bucket. Let’s say you do not express anger, it gets added to the bucket drop by drop, and once it is full, and when it gets full it will flow. Most often it happens over the most trivial thing, with a loved one. After the burst of anger, the person ends up feeling guilty for their action, so the cycle of suppression continues.
We need to understand that till we deal with our emotions, most of them are based on our past experiences, and the pleasure and pain we felt when experiencing it. If they are restimulated we will re-live our past once again, which will make the feeling intensify. Living in such world we end up limiting our experiences.
Becoming aware of our patterns gives us an idea as to where our attachments are and help us deal with them. Even though our memory may be strong and vivid about an experience it doesn’t mean it is the truth, they are the reconstruction of the experiences that created them. Often people find that over time people alter their memories.
It is important that you fully experience your feelings so you can learn from them and move on. While our culture tells us that some emotions are unacceptable, if they are unexpressed they can get stuck in our psyches making it difficult to move.
Suppressed emotional energy breaks out in illness and disease, confusion and mental break downs and arguments and depression. We all feel our emotions in our bodies, yet we are told to push them to our head and work them out logically. You need to understand that you cannot think your way through a feeling. You need to learn to take responsibility for how you feel. You cannot blame your feelings on others. This turns you into a victim.
Whilst our emotions come from several different experiences, the healing is very similar to all: The healing is in the feeling. And once you dump your emotional baggage, in learning to experience all your feelings you will become the person you truly are.