The term Emotional Intelligence was coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990. They defined Emotional Intelligence as “a form of intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” It is the ability to perceive emotions, integrate emotions to facilitate thought, understand emotions, and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth. Another famous psychologist who has worked extensively on emotion intelligence is Daniel Goleman, in 1995. He wrote a landmark book on Emotional Intelligence which is the best selling book by far because this topic has witnessed unparalleled interest amongst people. Now, we have something called emotion quotient [EQ] which was given by Reuven Bar-on to measure Emotional Intelligence of individuals just like we measure intelligence quotient (IQ).
Why do we need to know about Emotional Intelligence now more than ever?
Because it undoubtedly, plays a pivotal role in our holistic health and well-being. It is a better predictor of the key to a successful and accomplished lifestyle filled with a balanced and healthy life. Emotional Intelligence is receiving increasing attention from all over the world for people dealing with mental health concerns and psychological predicaments of all age groups. The concept of Emotional Intelligence broadens the notion of intelligence beyond the intellectual sphere/domain and considers that intelligence is not only related to your academic and work achievement but also includes how intellectually you can manage your emotions across different situations in all functional spheres or arenas. It is the feeling side of our brain which we cannot afford to neglect at any cost for a healthy and happy brain-body alignment.
What are the characteristics of emotionally intelligent people?
- They perceive and are sensitive to other’s feelings and emotions.
- Perceive and be sensitive to various types of emotions in others by noting their body language, voice, tone and facial expressions.
- Relate their emotions to their thoughts so that you can take them into account while solving problems and taking decisions.
- Understand the powerful influence of the nature and intensity of emotions.
- Control and regulate their emotions and expressions while dealing with themselves and others to achieve harmony and peace.
- Handling appropriate feelings and ability to monitor them from time to time.
- Ability to soothe oneself and others.
- Delaying instant gratification and stifling impulsivity.
- Empathetic awareness.
- Handling relationships smoothly.
- General mood – stress tolerance, patient and optimistic in approach.
4 major components of Emotional Intelligence that increase resilience are:
- Emotional perception
- Emotional integration
- Emotional understanding
- Emotional management
These 4 elements are noteworthy perspectives to build up healthy coping mechanisms. Individuals vary in their ability to process information of emotional nature and their ability to relate emotional processing to a wider cognition. They then posit that this ability is seen to manifest itself in certain adaptive and maladaptive behaviors. This brings us to our next imperative issue which is – what happens when people are emotionally dysregulated or lack Emotional Intelligence ? They develop all sorts of psychological ailments and stay stuck in the unhappy loop which affects their functional areas as well as those of their significant others. Emotional imbalance is the underlying cause and manifestation of almost all mental disorders.
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far,” says Daniel Goleman. Emotions have taught mankind to reason. Numerous research studies have scientifically and evidently proven that Emotional Quotient is as powerful, and at times a more powerful assessment tool than Intelligence Quotient for overall happiness and successful work and personal life. Results of longitudinal studies have further implicated Emotional Intelligence as being the most important and indispensable asset pertaining to one’s quality of life and longevity.
One study involving 450 boys reported that IQ had little relation to workplace and personal success, and was rather more important in determining their success, ability to handle frustration, control emotions and ability to get along with others. (Sanarey & Vaillant, 1985) Emotional Intelligence and resilience are positively correlated meaning the better the Emotional Intelligence of an individual, higher and stronger the resilience. Our ability to make decisions and choose from negative behaviors comes from the most prominent front part of our brain. Yet, these abilities are hampered in the presence of fear, distress or anxiety. Studies show a decrease in cognitive or thinking abilities in conditions that cause an excess of these emotions. Dysregulation of emotional repertoire implies either over-reactivity of emotional response or inhibition of emotional response; both are detrimental to use an adaptive defense style and exhibit healthier psychological adaption. Lower Emotional Intelligence is also associated to higher use of illegal drugs and alcohol, as well as increased participation in deviant behavior and problem behaviors.
Emotional suppression can result in decreased efficacy in communication. In one study, participants who instructed to suppress their emotions while discussing a difficult topic showed increased blood pressure and decreased effectiveness of communication.
What do we know about resilience?
In recent years, there has been a lot of research in understanding resilience in adolescents and children and even adults. Resilience is a dynamic developmental process referring to the maintenance of positive adjustment under challenging life conditions. It has been described as the capacity to ‘bounce back’ in the face of distress and adversity. It has been conceptualized as reflecting feelings of self-worth and self-confidence, autonomy and self-reliance, finding positive role models, seeking a confidant, cognitive skills such as problem-solving, creativity, resourcefulness, and flexibility and a belief that one’s life has purpose and meaning. Resilient individuals are able to overcome the effects of unprocessed trauma, extreme distrustful circumstances and obnoxious life situations, and learn to live psychologically healthy and meaningful lives.
Resilience has recently been defined in terms of three resources:
- I HAVE [Social and interpersonal strengths], that is people around me I trust and who love me no matter what.
- I AM [inner strengths], that is respectful of myself and others.
- I CAN [interpersonal and problem-solving skills, that is find ways to solve problems I face.
Resilience has also been associated with coping strategies (constant cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of a person) that present 2 main functions: emotion-focused and problem-focused strategies.
Let’s look at few techniques to improve emotional resilience
1. SELF- REGULATION –
- Self-control – managing disruptive emotions and impulses.
- Trustworthiness – maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
- Conscientiousness – taking responsibility for personal performance
- Adaptability – flexibility in handling change
- Innovativeness – being comfortable with and open to novel ideas and new information.
- Self-motivation – achievement drive and initiative
- Social awareness – Empathy – sensing others feelings and perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns. Developing others – sensing what others need in order to develop and bolstering their abilities.
2. TEACHING EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE –
Training programs aimed at improving Emotional Intelligence can occur in several different areas of training and development within an organization, including management training, communication and empathy training, conflict resolution and stress management training is provided to people at work. Less traditional training approach, based on self-directed and more individualized learning engagements, encompasses the following components:
- Visioning around reaching one’s ideal self.
- Self-assessment and self-awareness of current strengths and weaknesses
- Ensuring that strengths and limitations improve so that they do not detract from the achievement of goals.
- Creating and committing to a learning agenda that builds on strengths and reduces weaknesses.
- Active and frequent experimentation with new behaviors that support and develop Emotional Intelligence competencies.
- Reliance in a coach to regulate the process.
3. DEVELOPING SOFT SKILLS –
This includes a list of subskills such as:
- Interpersonal skills: Ability to communicate and express yourself effectively, openness to receive feedback, ability to develop respect for/interest in others cultures, experiences, values, pint of views, goals and desires.
- Cognitive skills: Ability to solve problems, engage in critical thinking and organized reasoning, and having intellectual curiosity and flexibility.
- Affective skills: Emotional control and balance, tolerance/understanding of interpersonal conflict, tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty.
- Reflective skills: Ability to examine and consider one’s own motives, attitudes, behaviours and ability to be sensitive to one’s own behaviour or others.
4. EMOTIONAL SCHEMA TECHNIQUE –
This technique is a powerful tool to deal with dysregulation of emotions.
- It helps people in identifying a variety of emotions and labeling them.
- Normalizing emotional experience, including painful and difficult emotions; linking emotions to personal needs and to interpersonal communication.
- Identifying problematic beliefs and strategies that the person has for interpreting, judging, controlling and acting on an emotion.
- The purpose is not to eliminate or suppress emotions but to provide constructive and meaningful ways to use emotional experience.
5. ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT TECHNIQUE –
Many people with emotion regulation difficulties believe that they have to get rid of an emotion. They often fear that emotion will overwhelm them, incapacitate them, or will go indefinitely, therefore a sense of urgency in eliminating the emotion. Just as thought suppression or unhelpful thought control strategies are unsuccessful, emotion suppression strategies and a sense of urgency add to the struggle within oneself that adds to further dysregulation. Acceptance of an emotion does not imply that one believes the emotion is a good or bad experience, but only acknowledges that it is an experience that one is having for this moment in time.
Acceptance of the emotion can help divert the patient from a sense of urgency and futile attempts to rid oneself of feeling. The individual can practice surrendering to the sensations of the feeling, imagining the feeling as water that flows over the rock and observing the feeling as it comes and goes. Don’t fight the feeling, allow it to happen. Stand back and observe it. Attentional deployment exercises can help the individual recognize that one can be aware of something without getting stuck in it. This indicates that one can accept feeling anxious (for example) at the present moment while engaging in behaviour that can lead to a change in that emotion. Any of the mindfulness exercises can be incorporated with this technique such as meditation exercises, relaxation techniques.
The aforementioned strategies are very helpful and powerful to employ in balancing emotional regulation and bolstering resilience. These will help people to lead a healthier and genuinely happy lifestyle. Before concluding, we would like to request all the viewers that if anyone is experiencing emotional problems with a heightened intensity or severity and you feel you are unable to handle it all by yourself, kindly seek professional help and get your issues resolved. You are going to get the support and right treatment you require. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Help your self and stay happy.
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