We have all heard repeatedly the importance of developing our self-wroth, to develop a proper balance in our personalities, our values, and of course, our emotional intelligence.
We only know that they are a set of skills that we have to master, but the tricky part is actually fully understanding what they actually consists on, and once this point is cleared, we can move on with enough confidence, and develop them.
In the case with emotional intelligence, which is today’s subject, we need to be clear if this concept is about some sort of capacity, or instead it consists on a set of qualities or attributes that we must possess and strive to develop.
What could be the repercussions of considering emotional intelligence as a set of qualities?
Thinking about a set of qualities is less clear when it comes to knowing exactly what the concept is all about, and we can get lost in many of the implications caused from this approach. From our point of view, it is much more confusing to handle so much information and it is, in fact, what causes such a "boom" of discussions on this topic.
Even so, this is the most common conceptualization and allows us to address it in a very practical way the emotional intelligence in all its aspects. In the end we end up having to be totally emotional beings without necessarily being able to differentiate emotional intelligence from other concepts like empathy, solidarity, integrity, among others
This perspective allows to outline the human being in a very global way, since it is the personality that covers broad areas of mental life (such as emotional intelligence) and not the other way around.
Also, can we say that if we lack empathy when treating other people then we have poor emotional intelligence? In my opinion it would seem obvious that the answer would be yes, but they are different qualities and although they converge at the moment of predicting success in forming relationships, in reality they act separately, shaping our attitudes, our personality and our way of acting. That is to say, emotional intelligence is not just to have integrity or solidarity as your qualities or much less to always have a good mood, emotional intelligence is a broader concept.
What is then, emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people. | Source
That definition certainly expresses the great relevance it has, and for this reason it can be considered as important as other types of intelligence, such as abstract intelligence which can be discussed in another post, and are all necessary to achieve success in life.
Besides, from this point of view, the meaning we give to emotional intelligence is that of a totally flexible ability that makes it easier for us to face the circumstances in which we find ourselves not only by the demands of said circumstance, but also by the demands of our personality and our needs.
This is the reason why this type of intelligence is such an important factor in our lives, its goal is to develop a synchronization between what we think and what we feel by recognizing our feelings, our reasoning and solving problems based on them.
Emotional intelligence ... is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it. | Source
Developing our emotional intelligence
According to Preston Ni there are 6 essentials aspects that help us increase our emotional intelligence. Those aspects are:
"Reduce Negative Emotions" Source : This means to stop focusing on the negative. It is probably impossible to completely avoid negative thoughts, but we can certainly reduce their frequency, and the amount of time we put into them. Now, we don't need to obsess over this, because then we would have an opposite effect.
"Stay Cool and Manage Stress" Source : Keeping ourselves in a relaxed state will always be healthy. And it can help us when facing intensive situations. Depending on which type of job the person has, this could be more difficult to achieve, especially when there are intensive days. Nevertheless, putting some minutes per day to relax our nerves would increasingly improve our health in the long term.
- "Be Assertive and Express Difficult Emotions When Necessary" Source : for some people, expressing emotions is not an easy job, especially when there is no trust between the ones involved. Either way, managing to share how we feel in difficult situations, can work as a type of training to learn more about ourselves. Which eventually, will always be useful in order to understand us better.
- "Stay Proactive, Not Reactive in the Face of a Difficult Person" Source : in this case, when interacting with a person we already know is a little bit problematic, the best thing is to be prepared in case things turn uncomfortable. That way, we would be able to control ourselves better.
- "Bounce Back from Adversity" Source : life doesn't always go as we like it, hence the importance of resilience in our lives. Not letting ourselves be crushed by a failure will always makes us stronger, and will help us become a much more balanced person.
- "Express Intimate Emotions in Close, Personal Relationships" Source : in order to make the bond with our loved ones even stronger, communication is key. It allows us to keep in touch with our deeper self, and to actually know each other on an intimate level.
By applying everything mentioned, with time we will get better at:
It consists in being able to understand extreme changes in our feelings (for example: feeling love and simultaneously hate when we argue with a loved one). In addition, it also includes understanding the change from one emotion to another (a good example would be the change caused because of a fight with our partner: we go from anger to guilt or shame).
Understanding the context is also important, because we can find ourselves in a situation where another person tells a dirty joke, and perhaps the first reaction would be to feel offended by it, but by understanding that probably the intention of said joke was simply to break the ice, we can then adjust our actions, and play along with the joke, therefore, taking into account other people's perspective is deeply related with the concept of emotional intelligence.
It consists of being able to accept and understand our feelings for what they symbolize and for what they inform us (although it is not pleasant, it is important to feel sad when losing a loved one or to get angry when someone has hurt us). In addition, it is essential to know how to manage them effectively (both ours and those of others: how many times are children told "do not cry" when they get hurt? How many times do we not allow ourselves to be sad and end up being overwhelmed with sadness simply because we want to hide it and don't express it?).
Monitoring ourselves can be a healthy habit if we are looking to keep us balanced, and sometimes, letting the emotions flow is probably the best thing we can do, as long as we understand the causes and can account for everything we might feel.
Emotional intelligence is an important aspect we should all develop in our life, no matter what age we. Its never to late to improve ourselves and our skills set.
Besides being good for us and for the understanding of ourselves, it is also good for the people around us. Understanding the emotional state of others is the only way we can offer proper support and advises to them, and it allows us to be a little bit more emphatic when interacting with other people.
Overall, it will help us achieve a much more balanced life, which is the same as saying a healthier life.
Do you consider yourself a person with a high emotional intelligence?
After reading this article, are you planning to get better at this skill?
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