What is Emotional Intelligence?

Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it. -Vincent van Gogh

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Emotional Intelligence is ’the ability to understand your emotions and those of other people and to behave appropriately in different situations’.

So according to its definition its related to empathy so how does this help you and relate to your success?

We’re often taught that IQ is the critical factor in traditional forms of success the more intelligent you are, the more you right decisions you will make leading to achieving your goals, but studies show the opposite!

Impulse control

Lets first look at a study that tested children on their ability to sit in a room with sweets on the table, the children were told not to touch the sweets as there would be a bigger reward in the future of more sweets for those who resisted.

Some of the children ate the sweets, and some didn’t, the experimenters followed the children for as they got older and found that the children that didn’t eat the sweets were more successful than the sweet eaters.

It turned out that their ability to control emotional impulses meant that these children had

learnt the importance of making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains!


Weak immune systems

When we go through times of stress, this is caused by our emotional reactions to the events around us.

For instance, a situation for one person say losing a job might feel like the end of the world and that person would feel tremendous stress, to another person the same event might cause them to feel no stress at all as to them it’s just an opportunity for a new adventure.

While losing your job is a significant life event small things can have the same effect one common one is road rage where perfectly sane people get extremely angry for very little or often no real reason!

How to improve our emotional intelligence

Self-talk, you are doing it all the time every day you have an extraordinary amount of thoughts most you aren’t even aware of, but there lies the problem if we aren’t mindful of our thoughts how can we make sure that the thoughts we have are positive.

I know from personal experience that when I have experienced social anxiety or a lack of confidence in the past, it has come from my own negative self-talk.

Why we do it is crucial, often, it is our emotional brains’ way of trying to protect us from a seemingly life-threatening situation.

This is often just a small insignificant situation that we have built up in our minds.

It might be getting rejected by the person we wanted to ask out, it could be asking for a raise or speaking up in meetings.

It took a while for me to really see the thought patterns I was repeating, continually building more and more neural pathways that were detrimental to my state of being.

I had to change my way of thinking, but how?

Heres my list of things that helped me and will hopefully help you in building a strong Emotional intelligence

1. First, change your environment

This can include the negative media we often get addicted to like tv news channels or soaps, facebook etc.

Start using social media as a tool to express yourself rather than just mindlessly consuming the negative rubbish that is spouted by other people.

Next, try removing yourself from negative people

Those people who always have something to complain about but don’t make any effort to change!


2. Find a few minutes a day to practice mindfulness-

Mindfulness and meditation in general when practised often act like a gym session for the brain.

Mindfulness builds the muscles of the mind that oversee our thoughts and then decides which ones to hang onto or which ones to just let pass. We get bombarded by 2 million snippets of information every day, its tiring work sorting out all this stimulus.


3. Question your values,

A good trick is to write down all your values ‘health’, ‘love’, ‘trust’ ‘honesty’, ‘wealth etc.

Now imagine you are on a sinking boat and you need to throw off all but one value.

Do this in order to see what you have left and then, spend a few minutes questioning why your top value is what it is.

This is Your driving force the value that drives your behaviour… but did you choose it?

It could be ‘trust’ for instance, now have a think at why its trust, is it really your core value or is it a value passed down from your mum or your boss or local culture?

This exercise is designed to help you see the world and your part in it from a more emotionally intelligent viewpoint.

You might be thinking why is this so important, well the reason its important is because if you’re not living a life that is based on your values your likely living a life based on someone else values!

Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.

Warren Bennis



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