Smart From the Heart: An Emotionally Intelligent Conversation about Emotional Intelligence

EQ: Getting Smart From the Heart


People come to counseling not because things are going well, but rather, typically because their lives are out of balance, in a funk and overwhelmed. “Emotional Intelligence” is not typically a term that they’re familiar with, but the lack thereof, they are.

Most, maybe even all, of these wonderful clients are struggling with a common dynamic: They sometimes find it hard to regulate their own emotions; and they usually don’t know how to appropriately respond to others’ (generally their significant other, children, co-workers, in laws and outlaws) emotional states.

In other words, they haven’t yet learned Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

However, there is a very shiny silver lining to this dilemma: Unlike IQ, which is set in stone, EQ can be developed and grown with just a little sunshine and water.

Well, not really sunshine and water, but EQ can be developed. In fact, there is no ceiling on how much EQ you can grow.

Here are the simple basics of developing your EQ:

  • Learn how to identify your emotions (Using the right words for the right feelings)
  • Learn how to identify what others are feeling (Profiling others’ verbal and non-verbal languages)
  • Know how to manage your emotional states (hopefully appropriately)
  • Discover how to best use your emotions to facilitate social interactions (making acquaintances and friends)
  • Maintain emotional connection (creating intimacy)

Below are examples of seven different emotional states we humans experience:

How are YOU feeling today?

Paying attention to people’s body language and/or just facial expression can help you better relate to and identify their feelings.

There are literally hundreds more emotions, but don’t worry about trying to learn them all. Just start by focusing on the following “Core Five” emotions:

  • Glad
  • Mad
  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Ashamed

Want to get started on growing your EQ?

I’m a big fan of journaling. Get a spiral notebook or composition pad. Start to track when you feel any of these Core Five emotions, what was going on when you felt them, and what you might like to do differently with them.

That’s your first step to improving your EQ. It’s called awareness. Awareness is a very small but highly impactful “agent of change.” When you’re able to identify what emotion you’re feeling, that alone helps your brain to relax and not get as stressed out.

Go get your self a journal, start tracking your emotions, and notice how the act of clearly identifying them will help you better regulate them. When you better regulate your emotions, you’ll find it much easier to respond to others’ emotions.

Let me know how it goes. Leave a comment or send me an email.

Also, Marry YourSelf First is a great resource to improve your Emotional Intelligence.

About Ken Donaldson

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