Stuck Between the Ears: A Case of Emotional Intelligence Deficit

A Case of Emotional Intelligence Deficit

There’s been a battle going on between my ears. I don’t know exactly when it started, but it’s been there for as long as I can remember. It seems that there are a number of highly opinionated “voices” trying to tell me what to do and how to do it, as well as informing me about what others are probably thinking about me.

And all this activity going on within the six or so inches of my head can easily drive me into quite a depressed state, create many sleepless nights, drive me to social avoidance and just a flat out get me feeling bad about myself.

This sound at all familiar?

Since I’m a therapist I find this quite alarming at times because “I should know better,” and that, in itself, is an example of one of those “voices,” the “should” voice, which happens to be one of the most active and powerful. “I should know better,” suggests that I am inadequate or incompetent. Not a very good feeling at all.

I call this voice “the critic,” which should come as no surprise, as many people often use the term “my inner critic.”

Then there’s another voice that comes along and says, “Don’t let anyone know about this.” This is what I call “the impression management voice,” which is screaming right now to not write this and to certainly not share it with anyone.

Another active voice is the one that’s telling me I should immediately go watch TV so I don’t have to deal with any of this internal strife. I call this “the avoider,” and its primary function seems to try to get me completely dissociated from all the emotions that come with the force of these voices.

Then “the victim” kicks in and says something like, “Life is SO hard,” and at about that point I’m ready to quit whatever it is I’m trying to pay some attention to.

And that is the point when I get stuck between my ears. These voices seem to then go into battle with each other, causing a plethora of negative emotions and usually some excessive physiological discomfort. I usually feel bummed out, hopeless, unmotivated and have either a stomachache, headache or backache.

Yikes…what’s a guy to do?

Brace yourself for an unusual and unexpected answer.


That’s right, do nothing.

In fact, I’m discovering that in those moments of non-stop head chatter the less I do, the better I feel and the sooner it all passes.

I simply allow myself to be, to notice and to become aware of this internal war zone. I bring my attention to it but have no judgment about its rightness or wrongness. In fact, I try to only have attention on my attention.

Guess what happens? That’s right; it begins to subside…really.

It’s the little things that make us more emotionally intelligent. Like simple awareness and acceptance of what is. It’s observing and noticing. It’s allowing and withholding judgment. Yes, that’s a big part of what’ll make you emotionally wiser, smarter and more intelligent.

Try it; you’ll like it. But when you do, notice that it’ll likely be more challenging than what it seems. Retraining the brain to not be critical or judgmental is, for most, harder than it seems.

The results, however, create an ease, grace and compassion for yourself that you might not have experienced before.

Yes, less is more, and in this less-is-more-ness, you’ll get more because when the voices in your head are quieted, you’ll be able to focus more and be more relaxed, and those are the ingredients for optimal performance and productivity.


Build your emotional intelligence now: Marry YourSelf First!

About Ken Donaldson

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