The IQ is not the only guarantee of success in the professional, social or personal field. The ability to be aware of the content of our thoughts, to recognize how we feel, to communicate it, to understand the function behind a thought and emotion, to actively listen, to distance ourselves from the conflict and to analyze unintended solutions , to set limits and say no, to self-empathize with our self, etc., are skills of emotional intelligence that help to relate to our environment in a constructive way.
Being emotionally intelligent does not mean "never losing control", just as it does not translate into "not having anxiety", "not to suffer" or "not to be afraid".
Being smart emotionally means understand what has happened and have strategies to respond. Being emotionally intelligent means listening to anxiety as a warning mechanism that, in some cases, will be activated by "not helping" thoughts. Being emotionally intelligent means regulating these thoughts and finding another solution. Being smart emotionally means allow yourself to be sad without letting emotion be the one to decide (as for example in the case of the Depression). Being emotionally intelligent means feeling that we are the protagonists of our own life story.
The system of thoughts and emotions and the metaphor of glasses
Each person has a unique system of thoughts and emotions. Others can empathize with him, but each individual is expert in their own content. Starting from this preamble, we can say that emotional intelligence is that part of intelligence that pays special attention to the functionality of said system and seeks the necessary tools to ensure its sustainability.
Thus, each one of us wears "glasses" from which he constructs his vision of reality and does so based on four essential factors. The first is the life experience, that is, all those experiences that we have throughout life and that condition this system of thoughts and emotions. The second is the emotional inheritance; each person is part of a family, a city, a culture, etc. There is a whole battery of social and educational elements that have been transferred to us and that influence how we understand the world.
The third factor are those traits that define personality; these traits also have a role in the 'focus' of our glasses. And the fourth is the vital moment in which we find ourselves, the 'here and now'; with 50 years we do not see life as we do with 25.
A sustainable system
Achieving our goals is fine, but not at any price. When we say "at any price" we mean the price of suffering, at the price of the appearance of dysfunctional anxiety.
Anxiety is a natural defense mechanism necessary for survival. Without it we could not recognize a danger and respond to it. The problem appears when this response is not proportional to the reality of the moment and what should be a help becomes a burden. That is when we are not functioning in an emotionally intelligent way.
Functional anxiety It is a mechanism that:
- Contemplate our needs.
- Analyze the elements that constitute the context / situation in which we find ourselves.
- Check the resources we have and / or can count on.
- It drives us to action.
- Promotes thoughts based on the reality of the here and now.
- Watch over our welfare.
Conversely, dysfunctional anxiety:
- It hinders instead of lending a hand.
- Limit instead of warning.
- It does not describe the current moment, it predicts scenarios that have not yet happened.
- His predictions have an especially negative and even catastrophic character.
- Wake up unintelligent alerts since they do not refer to the reality of the moment.
- Wear and absorb vital energy necessary to develop other facets.
- Subtract functionality and sustainability to our system of thoughts and emotions (to our 'glasses').
Thus, the value of our achievements, in part, will depend on the cost we pay for them. That is, still achieve the goal we set, It will be important to analyze what physical and mental wear requires its assembly and maintenance.
For all this, emotionally intelligent challenges will be those that do not cost us too high a price.
Emotional intelligence is made, "not born"
Emotional intelligence is made, so we can train her throughout life. Developing emotional intelligence means questioning certain 'comfort zones' from which we feel safe – but not comfortable – and discovering what exists outside. Exiting the comfort zone means contemplating new points of view, put into practice new ways of doing, create new thoughts, feel new ways of being and being, increase the ability to create and restructure.
Sometimes we remain immobile in certain comfort zones for fear of the unknown, for insecurity, for disbelief towards our potential. Keep locked also has a price.
In this sense, being intelligent emotionally means be aware of the degree of well-being that we gain and lose inside and outside the comfort zone in order to set an objective that directs us towards change at the right moment – it is not always smart to leave a comfort zone, it is important to look for the way and the moment according to our needs and those of the environment.
Every day is an opportunity to train emotional intelligence
In the day to day we put to test our system of thoughts and emotions every time we relate to the environment. Taking responsibility for the management of our 'glasses' is what gives us management and control capacity.
So, every interaction with the world is an opportunity to:
- Identify your own and others' feelings (give them your name and surnames).
- Understand them (what is their function?).
- Express them (give them a voice).
- Control them (what I express, how I express it and when I express it).
- Use them in a way that connects us with others.
- Differentiate the own responsibility of the other (in all communication there is a co-responsibility).
- Do not take an excess of responsibility.
- Put limits.
- Listen to our needs.
- Promote thoughts that lead to sustainable goals.
Watch for the functionality of your 'glasses', remember that each moment is an opportunity to train your emotional intelligence.
Mª Teresa Mata Massó, trainer psychotherapist in the training of Emotional Intelligence face-to-face and online