Updated: Oct 19, 2019
A recent Facebook conversation spawned deep thought into the concept emotional intelligence. What, exactly, IS emotional intelligence? It seems most people see it as the ability to control emotions. But, really, it's the ability to understand them.
Merriam-Webster defines the word intelligence as "1) the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations. and 2) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria." If you connect this to the area of emotions, it's all about understanding them, learning from them, and then applying what you've learned.
It does NOT mean you have no emotions. In fact, emotions are very beneficial, as they tell us something is going on with our thought process. Emotions can motivate us to take a positive action, like change careers or partners, start a charity, invent something, or help someone in need. Emotional intelligence is one defining difference between us and other animals. We are emotional, feeling beings. Love, gratitude, joy and passion are emotions that make us feel good. But, there are also emotions that can make us feel bad, like anger, sadness, fear, jealousy or frustration.
Many people I've encountered in my lifetime fall into two categories of emotional intelligence: 1) emotional constipation or 2) emotional diarrhea. I fell into the latter, which is letting emotions take control of actions. No matter the emotion, letting them control your behavior can be very dangerous. You may say and do things that you can't undo and could significantly change the course of your life and, in some cases, the lives of others. Even the emotion of love has caused people to do some pretty crazy things.
The opposite end of the spectrum is when you bottle up your emotions, which can be equally as dangerous. Think of a volcano that is heating up over time, eventually exploding and destroying everything in its path. Disease is a great example of this, of which I also had.
For me, I had bottled up a certain part of me I didn't want to be seen. Nor did I want to deal with that part. Over time, this created disease within my body. Because I was so out of balance and didn't feel I could control what was happening to me, I also had the outward bursts of emotions (emotional diarrhea). So, parts of me were constipated and the other parts were spontaneous outward expressions of which I seemed to have little control over.
For the past nearly twenty years, I've done a lot of work, both physically and mentally, to balance my emotions and gain greater emotional intelligence. Am I perfect at it? NO!!! But, I feel SO MUCH BETTER about myself and my level of emotional intelligence. I occasionally find myself bottling up an emotion or having an outburst. The difference is that now I have the tools to investigate WHY I am doing one or the other and come to an understanding about my behavior. Doing this helps to resolve the root cause and achieve an even greater level of emotional intelligence...balance.
Emotional intelligence NOT about erasing emotions and becoming a robot. It's about understanding and balancing them, so that YOU have control over your behavior instead of letting your emotions take the wheel.
If you feel you need assistance increasing your emotional intelligence, there are many mental health practitioners who may support you. Personally, I found alternative practitioners, like "Emotion Code", "Neuro-Linguistic Programing" (NLP), "Acupuncture", and "Reiki" to be more beneficial than talk therapy (psychology), as they dealt with root cause. As a Board Certified Health Coach, I help to uncover root cause, provide nutritional and emotional support and guide you in finding the healing methods that will work best for you. For more information or questions, please feel free to contact me.