By: Eduardo Amorim | Mentor & Coach
Life, Health and Wellness
We live in a society that is urgent, fast and anxious. Never in the history of humanity have people had such an agitated and stressed mind. According to the renowned writer and doctor Augusto Cury, It’s estimated that over 80% of the world population suffer from what is called Accelerated Thought Syndrome – or, in other words, a restless mind. This article aims at explaining what emotional intelligence really is as well as giving a few tips to take the lead of your emotions.
Have you ever found yourself carried away by your emotions and that there was little or nothing you could do about it? Have you ever overreacted about something and only afterwards, you realized how terrible you felt for doing so? Welcome onboard. Most people, if not all, have been in a situation in which they simply “lost it” and regretted later.
This shows how vulnerable human beings are and it’s not bad. However, it becomes a serious issue when it shifts from random life situations to a daily basis recurrence, affecting the personal and professional life. Keep reading to learn further on how to have emotional intelligence and how to take control of the amazing world of emotions.
Before understanding emotional intelligence, first we need to understand what emotions are. If you go about asking people what emotions are, they tend to say “it´s what I feel”. That’s plain wrong. If I slap your arm, you’ll feel it, and that is not an emotion. Therefore, we can’t say it’s what we feel – at least not in that way.
Emotions are a combination of chemical and neural reactions based on our memories. These reactions, also called responses are designed to drive us into taking action towards a situation, usually the situation that trigged the emotion or something else related to it. The trigger can be external like the example below or internal, like thoughts.
Imagine you go to the beach for a swim. You enter the water and swim to the outside. You are having a very nice time when you see the shadow of a shark swimming by. You have an imprinted memory that says sharks are dangerous, and that memory triggers the emotion of fear in your brain, which then reacts by increasing blood flow and heartbeat, dilating the pupils, drying the mouth, driving you into taking action upon the situation. The same happens with positive emotions but with different chemical and neural responses as well as different physiological changes.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
“The ability to control our emotions”. That’s what most people believe emotional intelligence is about – to decide what you are going to experience and make “it” behave” the way you want, by controlling it. The thing is, we cannot control our emotions – at least not directly. We can control some behaviors and these behaviors can make alterations in our emotional state. For example, meditation. Some types of meditation focus on controlling the breathing. By controlling the breathing you can, in an indirect way, make such alterations. Thus, controlling an emotion in its roots is impossible.
Pedro Calabrez, a famous Brazilian neuroscientist, describes emotional intelligence as the ability to understand the emotional process and to comprehend how the emotional process happens inside every one of us. Secondly, it is the capacity to interpret the emotion, being aware of what you are feeling and choose the best way to act in response to it instead of simply reacting impulsively.
It’s very common to see companies nowadays applying emotional intelligence tests in interviews in order to pick the most suitable candidates. Intellectual intelligence, technical knowledge and other skills are important but that is not enough anymore. Being able to have self-control, handling stressful situations and managing internal conflicts are crucial for the success of both the company and the professional.
How Can We Be More Emotionally Intelligent?
Being able to be more emotionally stable and deal with all that happen to and around us is not something we are usually born with. Although our upbringing, our early relationships and the environment we are in dictate a lot about how we handle our emotions, emotional intelligence is something that can be learned by mostly anyone.
Applying the following tips will give you a great start:
Self-control: it’s like a battery. The more we use it along the day, the less we tend to have to face difficult situations, so you have to train it whenever possible.
Apply the STA rule: Stop and analyze within yourself how you are feeling as a result of the situation you are facing. Think about what the result of your intended future actions may be. Act according to what you consciously decided to be not only the best but also the wisest.
Train your denial muscle: rejection, frustration and being told no. we fear being rejected, we get frustrated when things don’t go our way and we dislike receiving a no. Think of all the times you say no and reject people and things. It happens both ways. Plus, we don’t own the world to think everything should be as we wish. This is life.
Take responsibility for 100% of your life: it doesn’t matter who did what or who or what is to be blamed. We are always responsible for how we act (or react) and how we deal with all life events. When we engage in self-responsibility, we gain the sense of being fully in control. That will calm you down when you think things are going “out of control”.
Don’t suffer in advance for what hasn’t happened: doing that is pouring gasoline into the fire. The mind can be a factory of negative thoughts if you don’t watch it. Most of the time the situations the mind creates don’t happen and, when they do happen, it is never like we first thought.
Apply the DCD rule: Doubt it, Criticize it, Decide. Doubting is the basis of philosophy. What we strongly believe in has control over us. Doubt whatever potentially dangerous thought pops in your mind. Is it true? Does it make sense?; Criticize. We are very good at criticizing and questioning others but when it comes to doing that with ourselves, we flee the scene. Self-questioning gives you the power to change how thoughts, emotions and beliefs influence your actions and behaviors; Decide whether it’s worth keeping the thought or experiencing the emotion. Determination is a key factor. If it does no good, dump it. Chuck it in the emotional bin.
In a world of rush, lack of patience and tolerance, pressure from society and the system itself, being emotionally sound is the biggest wealth. People, unfortunately too often, lose to their minds in a never-ending game and succumb to their emotions. The result? A society that is afraid of sitting in the driver’s seat because they are too scared of what the road is going to be like.
In this article, we learned what emotions are and aren’t, what in fact is emotional intelligence – a top trending topic nowadays that is frequently misunderstood and what we can do to work on ourselves to help revert this epidemic of restless minds we have been living. This epidemic, believe it or not, is the cause of many, many health issues, even cancer.
Spread the word. Help heal some broken minds.