“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion”
Silent LANGUAGE of feeling
People use language to express how they are feeling. They use body language, which is often more telling than the words they use. This is what I refer to as the third level of communication. An instinctual conversation you can have with someone that goes beyond words and behaviour.
A type of exchange that takes your understanding to an almost psychic level. The way you know your mom is feeling sad when you phone. Sure, the tone of her voice is a sign, but there is something else, something you cannot explain, and that to me is EMOTIONAL intelligence.
The research defines emotional intelligence as a person skilled in understanding, interpreting, and experiencing emotions. We do not limit this ability to the person’s own emotions, but the emotions of others.
Seems like a simple enough definition, right? Spoiler alert! It is not simple.
Let us start with the easier part. I say easier because it is still difficult. Understanding another person’s emotions. To be cognizant of how they are feeling, but also how to react to their emotions. Here we need to take a moment to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is the ability to feel for others. Knowing that a person is suffering with the loss of a loved one. Empathy is a much stronger emotion. This happens when you can put yourself in another person’s position and understand the feelings they feel from their perspective.
Few people can be of empathetic. Empathy is the ultimate form of emotional intelligence. When you are empathic your thoughts regarding another’s emotions are only all about them. Nothing else. If you make it about you, about how you consider the situation or your opinion on that emotion, you are in fact not being empathetic but only sympathetic. Therefore, emotional intelligence is a strength. Anyone can do it, but it takes dedication and practice.
It is not you it is me
I said it is weird that understanding another person’s emotions is easier than understanding how you are feeling. At a basic level, most of us can be sympathetic. This is because we as human beings are TERRIBLE at understanding emotions. We flunk at it.
I can hear some of you disagree, well let me pop your emotional bubble for you, you too my friend. We all do.
in the pursuit of happiness
My sister’s death has reminded me of how true my previous statement is. How despite all my studies and degrees, I still forget that emotions are nothing more than feelings. They are not all good; they are not all bad. Just like people. Happiness is the popular kid. We want to be friends with him. Hanging out with happiness every day is not great. Eventually it gets old, and you go back to a state of neutrality. There is a fancy term for this, but I won’t bore you with the details. Happiness is only an emotion. We strive towards happiness, but that is an impossible and pointless quest.
In the company of sadness
Sadness is the school weirdo. Someone we try to avoid or when we do get stuck in a conversation with them, we try to get out of it. Instead of trying to understand sadness, appreciate its purpose and allow it to flow over us until it moves on. It is only an emotion. It has every right to be in our company just as much as any other feeling.
Grief has been overwhelming me in waves of emotion and has left me rather paralysed. I have been suppressing so many emotions for so long, and now they are all here. They have all come to my house simultaneously, and they are trashing the place. That is what emotions do. If you do not give them the time and space they deserve, they catch up with you later and then they cripple you.
The uncomfortable truth
We cannot control emotions, and in our effort to control them, we hurt ourselves. Let the emotions come. Acknowledge them. Learn from them and then let them flow over you. This is where mindfulness is such an important coping tool. Go to my mindfulness exercise if you are not familiar with mindfulness.
Being honest with yourself
This time during COVID you have been experiencing a wide range of emotions. I wonder whether you have been paying each one its due. I hope that as you try to be more emotionally intelligent, you will.
One last thing, I would not be me if I did not drag Winnie the Pooh into this. Think of emotions as characters and perhaps they will be less scary. Piglet is fear, Eeyore is sadness, Rabbit is disappointment, Pooh is confusion, Kanga is acceptance, Roo is happiness and Tigger is excitement. Do not believe me? Go read the stories.
Till next week…