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Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Written by: Nigel Beckles, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


"But the rational mind usually doesn't decide what emotions we 'should have!" ‒ Daniel Goleman, ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ’

The traditional view of having a successful and happy life relies largely on the belief that Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores and academic achievements largely determine the destinies of children and adults. Contrary to this opinion, it’s not the people with the highest IQ who become the most successful or live the happiest lives, but those with high levels of Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as EQ or EI). Psychologists believe those who live fulfilling lives have often mastered the skill of using their Emotional Intelligence and this is absolutely essential in forming, developing, maintaining and enhancing successful careers and close personal relationships. A person with high levels of EI can be defined as someone with the ability to understand, manage, and effectively express personal feelings. These people are also successful at engaging, navigating, and validating the emotions of others.

Emotional Intelligence can affect the following areas of your life:

  • Mental Health: When stress is not managed effectively, it can negatively impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to feelings of anxiety or even depression. The failure to understand and manage our emotions can leave us vulnerable to experiencing erratic mood swings.

  • Physical Health: If you find it difficult to manage your stress levels, this can result in very serious health problems. Severe stress can suppress the immune system and raise blood pressure. It increases the risk of strokes or heart attacks and speeds up the ageing process.

  • Work Performance and Relationship Management: Effective emotional intelligence can help you to reduce personal stress levels at work. It can also help you to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, motivate others, work well in a team, and effectively manage potential or actual.

  • Relationships: The failure to form and maintain positive relationships leaves many people feeling lonely and isolated. Understanding your emotions and how to control them puts you in a much stronger position to express how you feel and also understand how others are feeling. Understanding The ability to understand how emotions influence your choices and the decisions of others provides a healthy foundation for building healthier relationships.

Attachment Styles and Emotional Intelligence are considered to be linked as childhood experiences tend to shape our expectations and the way we relate to others. If you have a pattern of becoming disconnected from others or becoming distant in your intimate relationships, this could be due to your attachment style. While the concept of emotional intelligence has its critics, a vast number of psychologists believe people who struggle to maintain healthy relationships have a lower EQ/EI than those with higher levels. If you have a history of unsatisfying relationships, raising your emotional intelligence could drastically increase the chances of interacting with others in new and positive ways, expand your options in the dating game, or improve your current relationship.

Key Elements of Emotional Intelligence include:

  • Self-Regulation

  • Empathy

  • Social Awareness

  • Internal Motivation

  • Self-Awareness

A failure to manage your emotions results in being at their mercy. History is littered with examples of men and women who have made very poor or even fatal decisions based on their undisciplined emotions. If you fail to manage your emotions, they will dictate your choices, which can result in very unhealthy habits, situations, and relationships that can be highly disappointing or even dangerous.

If you have a high level of EQ you will be skilled at the following:

  • Understanding Emotions: Comprehending emotional language while appreciating different emotions in relation to each other.

  • Perceiving Emotions: Recognizing and comprehending your own emotions as well as detecting and comprehending the emotions of others. This ability makes it possible to process all other emotional information available.

  • Managing Emotions: Entails self-regulation of personal emotions as well as behaviour that influences the emotions of others.

  • Using Emotions: Harnessing emotions to facilitate a variety of activities, such as creative thinking and problem-solving. This supports adapting to any changing moods to achieve a task or goal.

The human brain processes information through our senses. When the data becomes overwhelming, the body produces adrenaline while emotions become volatile and stress takes over the ability to think and act rationally. The fight or flight response can cause many to make rash decisions or freeze like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. The ability to make the right choices relies greatly on managing our emotions constructively. We will then find it easier to engage in effective communication, empathize with others, overcome challenges, resolve conflicts, and alleviate stress.

Consider what types of situations or behaviours may act as triggers for your own negative thoughts or responses to help you to identify any recurring issues. When you have identified one or several emotional triggers, think about what causes you to react in that way. For example, are these negative emotions motivated by feelings of insecurity, fear of abandonment, or a lack of being in control? If you’re struggling to deal with issues that come up, a competent therapist or counsellor may be able to help you understand the roots of where these feelings stem from, and learn how to respond appropriately and in healthier ways. Those with high levels of Emotional Intelligence have the ability to consistently recognize their own emotional states and identify the emotional states of others.

Developing Emotional Awareness

"Self-regulation is not about having certain emotions. It is about becoming skillful with them." Chade-Meng Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness

The ability to connect with your core emotions and consistently monitor your feelings while accepting those feelings is essential for cultivating Emotional Intelligence. Understanding your emotions and how they may have influenced some of your thoughts and actions in the past can help you to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. Developing emotional awareness will also help you understand other people in new and deeper ways. It’s important to acknowledge that there are people who are disconnected from their emotions, especially the powerful emotions of anger, sadness, fear and joy. This suppression or avoidance of emotions can be motivated by negative childhood experiences, where a person has conditioned themselves to shut down their feelings. Deeply engrained negative feelings can be suppressed, distorted, denied, or even numbed by alcohol or drugs, but they cannot be removed and will always be present until the issues are healed. Those who lack Emotional Awareness often find themselves unable to fully understand their own motivations and needs or have difficulty communicating effectively with others.

The Way Forward

"Your self-talk is the channel of behaviour change"-Gino Norris Author, ‘The Stress Diaries’

Emotional Intelligence is widely seen as an important factor in the lives of successful people living highly enjoyable lives. While Emotional Intelligence is not currently thought to change significantly over a lifetime for most people, higher levels can be developed with the right approach and a strong desire for personal growth. Significant improvements in all of your relationships are quite possible when you begin to develop and harness your Emotional Intelligence effectively.

Book Extract: ‘How to Avoid Making the BIG Relationship Mistakes!’ Available @Amazon

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Nigel Beckles, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nigel Beckles is an Author, Certified Relationship Specialist & Coach, holds a Dealing With Narcissism Diploma and Psychology of Relationships Diploma. He is an Educator, Online Adviser and Workshop Facilitator. Nigel is a contributor to the award-winning documentary ‘Looking for Love’ available on DVD and online. He is also the creator of the podcast 'Interesting Conversations with Interesting People' featuring Interviews with Award-Winning Authors, Therapists & Relationship Life Coaches. All Podcasts Available @ Website: his work involves guiding men and women through difficult relationship issues.





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