Emotional Intelligence – Are You A Genius?
By Chelse Benham
“Managing our emotions increases intuition and clarity. It helps us self-regulate
our brain chemicals and internal hormones. It gives us natural highs, the real
fountain of youth we've been searching for. It enables us to drink from elixirs
locked within our cells, just waiting for us to discover them.” - Doc Childre, author
and founder of the Institute of HeartMath
Daniel Goldman, chief executive officer of Emotional Intelligence Services in
Massachusetts and a former Harvard educator, coined the phrase Emotional
Intelligence, abbreviated EI or EQ as a takeoff of IQ or Intelligence Quotient.
Unlike IQ, EI can be learned and improved upon and it is all about controlling
emotions so they don’t control you.
The most effective skill someone can take to improve control over their emotions
is to practice self-observation - the ability to stand back and observe your own
mental and emotional functioning. Identifying the “automatic thoughts,” or those
thoughts mired in judgment and negativity, that act as precursors to emotional
responses is key.
Cognitive therapy is based on the belief that by changing the way you think, you
can change the way you feel and act. “Cognitive Restructuring” is
perspective/interpretative based analysis.
“Cognitive restructuring is a well-researched method for treating emotional
distress and shows good efficacy in psychotherapy,” said Dr. Kristin Croyle,
assistant professor in the Psychology and Anthropology Department at The
University of Texas-Pan American. “It can also be learned by motivated people
as a self-help technique.
David Burns, MD, for example has some popular books that teach cognitive
techniques including “The Feeling Good Handbook.”
In his extremely informative and in-depth article “How to Achieve Emotional
Control” found at www.buildfreedom.com, author Mark Lindsay writes, “It is not
surprising then, that cognitive therapists argue that most of our emotions are a
result of the interpretations we make of the events around us. This is quite
different from the way we normally think about our emotional states. Usually, we
regard our emotional responses as being directly caused by outside events and
situations. Rather it is our interpretation of the event which triggers the emotional
response.” The following formula illustrates this premise.
EVENT -> INTERPRETATION-> EMOTION-> ACTION
“Emotions are clearly constructed by our perceptions and our interpretations,
although some events are powerful enough to elicit very similar interpretations
and emotional responses from many people (such as traumas),” Croyle said.
People often don’t realize the emotion they assign to people and events as
illustrated in everyday terminology. The terminology reinforces the idea that
things act upon and cause our emotional response. “He made me so mad.” “She
really brings me down.” Both are examples of displacing ownership or control
and further validate our indulgence to express our emotions instead of controlling
Robert Fritz, author of “The Path of Least Resistance,” states that most people
believe that outside circumstances dictate their lives and he calls this the
“reactive-responsive orientation.” This is the state of being where external
circumstances hold power over you and you are simply reacting to these
Goleman describes five major components of EI:
1) Knowing one's emotions. Self-awareness - recognizing a feeling as it
happens - is the keystone of emotional intelligence.
2) Managing emotions. Handling feelings so they are appropriate is an
ability that builds on self-awareness.
3) Motivating oneself. Marshalling emotions in the service of a goal is
essential for paying attention, for self-motivation and mastery, and for
creativity. Emotional self-control - delaying gratification and stifling
impulsiveness - underlies accomplishment of every sort.
4) Recognizing emotions in others. Empathy, another ability that builds on
emotional self-awareness, is the fundamental "people skill." People who
are empathic are more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate
what others need or want.
5) Handling relationships. The art of relationships is, in large part, a skill in
managing emotions in others.
There are some techniques that Lindsay offers to help manage emotions:
• Monitor your automatic thoughts. Start practicing the skill of
recalling the images and ideas which floated through your stream of
consciousness during the last few moments. To do this, sit quietly and
allow your mind to wander. After a minute or so, ask yourself what you
are currently thinking about. Once you've identified that, ask yourself
what led you to start thinking about what you were thinking about.
Continue tracing your thought stream back as far as you can. Usually,
there is some connecting factor between each set of thoughts.
• Become aware of “identification” and learn to break free from it.
When we identify ourselves with something - no matter what it is - we
are unable to step back and view it objectively. Now, when we identify
with our emotions, it is very difficult to control them; when we are
immersed in our emotions, we are controlled by them. The secret of
emotional control is to disengage yourself from your emotions, to pull
back and cease identifying with your feelings and moods.
• Observe yourself as if you were another person. Self-observation
means stepping back and objectively looking at a situation that you are
involved in from a disengaged perspective.
• Use the effective technique of “Freeze Framing” to gain emotional
control. We get held up in traffic and we automatically experience
frustration. What is wrong with all of this is that we mechanically and
unthinkingly indulge in our emotional responses. And our emotional
"indulgences" - and all emotional responses amount to self-indulgence
- color our perceptions and influence our choices and actions. There
are five steps to “freeze framing” and they are:
1) Recognize your stressful feelings and make the decision to
freeze-frame (call a time-out).
2) Shift your focus away from your racing thoughts and
emotions. Focus your attention instead on the area around
your heart and for about 10 seconds or so, pretend you are
breathing through your heart.
3) Think about a fun time in your life, a time in which you felt
positive. Try to re-experience that moment in your mind.
(Note: freeze-framing can be much more effective if you
decide beforehand what experience to focus on.)
4) Ask your heart for a more efficient and effective response to
the situation you are freeze-framing. The answer will come
from your intuition or source of common sense.
5) Open yourself up and listen to the answer your heart gives
• Avoid “emotional contagion.” We can become "infected" by the
emotions and moods of others. You can catch both negative and
positive emotions alike, such as euphoria, elation, sadness,
depression, anger, grief, etc. Avoid negative people and situations.
• Practice “learned optimism.” Pessimism is essentially a bad habit
or bad programming that was developed from being exposed to poor
examples from parents, teachers or others who provided major
influences during the formative years of our lives. Many of the
negative command phrases that create the ill effects on our lives
today were exactly the ones we heard verbalized by the influential
people in our past. The manner in which you explain (self talk) how
and why any unpleasant situation came about determines whether
you are operating from the vantage point of helplessness or power
Mastery over you emotions can lead to a sense of personal freedom. It gives you
the upper hand in all areas of life and produces enough personal power to move
you up the chain of command. People in control of their emotions are sought
after for advice and put in leadership positions. Intellect prowess is no longer the
benchmark for success. EI has since taken the lead as the more desirable
characteristic in business today. How fortunate is the person who has both!
"Whatever the reasons, we do not pursue emotional development with the same
intensity with which we pursue physical and intellectual development. This is all
the more unfortunate because full emotional development offers the greatest
degree of leverage in attaining our full potential.” - Unknown