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Taking emotional intelligence seriously

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Emotional intelligence (EI) is that aspect of the self that governs relationship and connection with yourself and others. EI relates to our ability to love and be loved, it relates to our ability to recognise and appropriately express our feelings.

 

For a long time, our IQ has been highly regarded and has been considered to be central to our happiness and well-being. It has only been in recent times that we are beginning to take our emotional intelligence (EI) seriously. In fact in many circles it is now believed that EI is more important in determining our overall happiness than anything else.

 

EI is responsible for our ability to love and be loved, self esteem, compassion and fulfillment in our daily life.

 

Even our ability to recognise our feelings comes down to EI. It is now understood that we feel first, then speak and act in response to our feelings.  So if this is the case, that is we are responding to emotional cues, then we must understand and be able to identify our emotions to be in control of our own lives.

 

Why is it that some of us are not able to identify our emotions and to be in control of our lives?

 

The primary factors involved in the shaping of our emotional world is the kind of upbringing that we received as infants and young children. Children that grow up in warm loving environments are likely to grow into adults with high levels of EI. Children growing up in unsafe and abusive environments are likely to suffer a list of emotional problems.

 

So what causes these differences?  In the first eighteen months to three years of life, the brain is growing at an amazing rate that will never be repeated. By age of three the brain has grown to 90% of its adult size.

 

Did you know that by the age of six months your responses to stress have already been determined?

 

This means that an adult’s capacity to deal with stress will be decided by the level of safety we experienced as infants. When I talk about safety, I am talking in the broadest sense about human connection. When we talk about an infant’s well-being we are almost always talking about connection on some level or another. Attending promptly and lovingly to our babies determines that persons ability to feel close to others when they grow up. When we talk about the issue of connection we are not so much talking about what you do but more about the quality of the doing. It is this quality of connection that determines our ability to love and accept ourselves. The qualities I am speaking of are love, warmth, emotional vulnerability and constancy.

 

When I am loved, this makes me lovable.  

 

These feelings of connection that are so closely related to emotional intelligence can almost always be measured by our capacity for relationship. The growing brain is virtually being shaped by the nature of its experience. This is why it is difficult to change our emotional circumstances once we have grown up. But don’t despair because it is possible to change our emotional circumstances as adults if we work at it.

 

Our relationship to self is measured by our degree of self acceptance.

Our relationship to others is measured by our capacity for empathy, compassion, love and trust.