I’ll be perfectly honest, up until recently, emotional intelligence (EQ) has been way down the list of things I have wanted to acquire, and this is certainly not unique to me. We are a nation who are unlikely to have a house, a spouse or kids until we are deep into our thirties (thanks, economy) and as a result, the motivation to be able to successfully manage yourself emotionally is pretty slim.
Psychology today has defined Emotional Intelligence as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.
It is generally said to include three skills:
1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving;
3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
In this article, I’ll focus emotional intelligence regarding ourselves and not others.
With ‘emotional intelligence’ being tied to the dreaded ‘growing up’ you can see why the majority of us avoid it like the plague. Walk around London on a Friday and you will see thousands of people addressing their stress with a tray of Jaeger bombs, walk into any Tesco in the country and you will probably find a tearful woman (or man) loading their bags up with sugary comfort foods and go onto Tinder and you will find a whole swarm of people terrified to admit they might actually want/need something more substantial than casual sex. If running away from emotional maturity was a sport, Britain would probably be the gold medal winner.
When emotional unintelligence is so prevalent in our society, and age group, it is little surprise that so many of us make no effort to acquire it. In fact, some of us may actively avoid it for fear of being labelled ‘boring’. One of my friends from university was extremely emotionally intelligent, yet got all sorts of stick for choosing to deal with things like an adult as opposed to a child.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving.
Being emotionally unintelligent allows you to be part of the pack, to be seen as the ‘fun’ one (I actually do have an award for biggest party animal so I know my stuff here), yet it really doesn’t help you in achieving your long-term goals. Being emotionally immature means that you only know how to cope with so much. Using drink, food, men, or running away to mystic lands to cope with life may be okay in the short run, but eventually when you are faced with something big (or lots of little things) you will find yourself cracking faster than humpty dumpty.
Dreams, whether they are running a business, getting married, writing a book or owning your own home all come with big challenges and big risks that are often beyond our control. What is within our control, however, is our ability to handle these challenges. Climbing a mountain with no safety equipment would (and should) strike fear into us all because it’s pretty stupid. Climbing a mountain with a decent harness, the advice of experts and the support of people you trust is a far less daunting prospect; it will give you the confidence to climb higher. Admitting what support you need and asking for it is frightening, but ambition, supported by emotional intelligence, will get you where you want to go in one piece. After all who has ever heard of any great achievers accounting their success to Jägermeister, McDonalds and ‘guy with the beard’ from Tinder?
Here are a few ways to acquire higher emotional intelligence:
- Be more self-aware, what makes you tick or makes you happy.
- Practice deciding how to behave, be in control
- Take responsibility for your feelings and behaviour