What is Emotional Intelligence?

There are parts of yourself you don’t even know, crying for attention and ruining your life.

Emotional intelligence is the degree to which you control your emotions and express them clearly, while also understanding the emotions of those around you. It affects our ability to maintain healthy relationships.

On surface level, it seems like we all possess this quality and use it on a daily basis. But more often than not, our ability to sense and be in control of our own emotions eludes us. This tends to happen when something we feel inside disagrees with what we think we should be feeling, and we become confused, anxious, and irritable.

If you’ve ever blamed your financial stress on your spouse, shouted at your parents when you got a bad grade, taken out a frustration on a coworker, or lost your patience with a teammate and snapped at them, you’ve experienced a loss of emotional control. This happens when our brain cleverly finds ways to lie to us about what we’re really feeling. Because those feelings are difficult to admit–maybe we think they are immoral or too painful to explore– our brain disguises those feelings beneath easily identifiable and fixable problems: our husband’s snoring, our kid’s dirty room, our teammate’s laziness.

Have you ever developed a nervous tick, insomnia, or an addiction? I know the answer, because we all have. I just wanted to see if you’d be honest with yourself. These bad habits are physiological symptoms of the lies we have subconsciously buried deep within our brains.

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

When you tell your spouse, whom you love, that you “hate them,” it isn’t because you’ve stopped loving them, but because you are incapable of expressing what you truly feel at the moment. Maybe you feel like a fool because you know you’re overreacting. Maybe you feel embarrassed that they’re right, and it reminds you of when you were a kid and your parents made fun of you every time you were wrong. That memory is painful, and rather than admit you’re wrong, you’d rather resort to petty insults.

The behaviors we resort to when we lose control over our emotions are connected to the emotional habits we learned from our parents at a young age, also known as our “emotional inheritance.”

But the beautiful truth is that we can regain control over our emotions. It starts with re-learning to be honest with ourselves about our emotions. We have to force ourselves to explore the dark, painful, or confused feelings within our brains and answer why we feel that way.

If a meeting at work has you stressed and unable to sleep, take a moment and ask yourself: why am I stressed? Perhaps you fear failure. Why?

When you’ve answered that, ask yourself: what’s the worst case scenario?

The more you unravel these confusing, stressful feelings, the more you will understand your emotions, and by extension, yourself. And knowing yourself inside and out is the best way to gain control over how you express your emotions.

I recommend reading Self-Knowledge by The School of Life for a deep exploration of your emotional intelligence, and how to regain control.

Love yourself, be kind to others, and I’ll be back next week 🙂