Intelligence is a metric that humanity has valued since ancient times. It’s why we still look back on the works of thinkers like Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato to this day. Throughout the history of humanity, intelligence has primarily been viewed as a general aptitude without accounting for specific types of intelligence a person may possess. As such, distinctive forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence, are often unintentionally ignored. So, what exactly is emotional intelligence?
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of and manage our own emotions while simultaneously understanding the behavior of others.
Intelligence, in general, is centered around the ability to navigate through challenging circumstances. We’re most familiar with intelligence when it comes to fields like business, engineering, math and language. So naturally, it is possible to possess great intelligence in these fields while still harboring a deficit of emotional intelligence.
Symptoms of a deficiency of emotional intelligence can include struggles maintaining personal relationships, restlessness and sadness despite having basic needs met and intolerance. On the other hand, a person with strong emotional intelligence can maintain a level of skepticism when interpreting emotions involving love, anxiety, desire, envy and ambition. Instead of trusting the wisdom of their emotions, they grasp that anger can mask sadness, hatred can mask love, and failure doesn’t have to be met with pessimism.
It’s important to remember that emotional intelligence isn’t something we are born with. Just like any other form of intelligence, we need education and experience in order for greater understanding to take root. However, it’s no secret that school curriculums do not dive very deep into concepts like interpreting our emotions, understanding the influence of our childhood and navigating through our fears. As such, our intelligence level is effectively shaped through our culture and our own efforts.
Many individuals report that emphasizing self-awareness throughout the day can start to improve our emotional intelligence over time. If you feel like your emotional intelligence has plateaued, however, it may be time to seek the guidance of a professional in a therapy setting. Treating anxiety and depression can mend relationships, improve work performance and boost quality of life as a result. All of this takes place when we flip that switch and commit to improving our emotional intelligence.
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