What is emotional intelligence and why you need it to build the life you want.

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February 5, 2018

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learned

What is emotional intelligence and why you need it to build the life you want.



In my videos and articles you’ll hear me talk quite extensively about Emotional Intelligence. After all, it’s what the E.I. in E.I. Jane stands for.

But what actually is Emotional Intelligence and where did the term come from?

Well, simply put, emotional intelligence is the super power that allows you to live life on YOUR terms.

Actually, that’s my definition but I’ll get to why that is in a bit.

Psychology Today more formally defines 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: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.”

That sounds like a mouthful but these three skills of emotional intelligence they speak of can be summed up like this:

  1. Notice or become aware you’re having an emotion
  2. Use it for something, like getting out of danger or making a decision, and
  3. Modify it as needed in order to benefit you or other people.

The term Emotional Intelligence, or “E.I.”, was made popular by Daniel Goleman. He breaks it down into five main components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Internal Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

Self-Awareness is the ability to acknowledge and understand your emotions, moods, and motivations. It's also the ability to understand how your actions affect others and how others' actions affect you.

Self-regulation is the ability to guide those emotions where you want them. It's about controlling your impulses. In other words, thinking before you act. Internal motivation includes an interest for learning, a desire for growth, for self-improvement, for achievement...

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others. In other words, to put yourself in someone else's shoes. In order to effectively do this, though, you must first understand yourself and your emotions, which goes back to "self-awareness."

Social Skills include the ability to understand and use social cues to find similarities between you and other people in order to manage and build relationships and networks.

As you can see, it makes sense why emotional intelligence is what allows you to live life on your terms. When you have your emotions working for you, there’s nothing, except death, that can stop you from accomplishing what you want and from positively contributing to your loved ones and society as a whole. If you think you or someone you know lacks any of these skills then I have GREAT news for you!

Emotional Intelligence and everything related to it can be learned!

You don’t need to have been born with it and pretty much anyone and everyone from all ages, backgrounds and parts of the world can benefit from having more of it in their lives. So yes, if you have the ability to learn and apply knowledge, then you can most definitely become emotionally intelligent!

Many of us think we have no control over our emotions but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, the one thing we can actually control is how we feel and what we do. We cannot control our parents, our children, our pets, the weather, our significant others, the person who cuts us off in traffic, or the fact the network canceled our favorite TV show!

But we can most definitely control how we manage our emotions. Namely, we can redirect thoughts and find meanings that work for us rather than against us.

Now, I want to be clear about what I mean here. Managing or “controlling” our emotions does not mean we won’t feel emotions. Emotions, like thoughts, can arise “randomly” and we can classify them as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Emotional Intelligence is not about suppressing emotions. It is about understanding where they come from, why they exist, and how you can manipulate them in a way that will benefit you rather than hurt you.

I have a funny joke to share about how quickly one can change an emotion in order to help oneself:

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of this bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, and anything he could think of to set a good example. Nothing worked.

Finally, John got fed up and he yelled at the parrot. And, the bird yelled back. John shook the parrot, and the bird got angrier and ruder. Finally, in a moment of desperation, John put the bird in the refrigerator freezer. For a few minutes, John heard the bird squawk and kick and scream. Then, suddenly, everything became quiet. Not a peep for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the bird, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arm and said: "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I am truly sorry, and I will do everything to correct my poor behavior."

John was astonished at the bird's change of attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had caused such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued:

"May I ask what the chicken did?"

Now, this is a bit of dark humor but the message is still applicable: this parrot went from expressing anger and entitlement to a completely different emotional state: fear. Since it didn’t want to end up like the chicken, it did what it felt it had to do to stay alive… it was able to quickly change its thinking pattern and its behavior to something that was more beneficial to it at the time.

You too can do the same at will...and without having to be put in a freezer (although if that’s your thing, I respect it).

You do have the ability to shift useless or hurtful emotional patterns to others that are more beneficial.

And the way to do it is to notice what pattern of thinking has led you to a certain feeling and to then decide to shift that pattern to another that will serve you better. Don’t believe me? Let’s do the following exercise:

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine the following scenario:

You are driving on the expressway and, all of a sudden, someone cuts you off and you almost crash. How do you feel? Most people in this scenario get both scared and angry. You get scared obviously because you almost crashed but why do you get angry? There are common thought patterns that lead someone to anger and they happen in a matter of milliseconds: this person is rude. This person is breaking social norms. This person did this to me on purpose. Etc. There’s always a sense of entitlement and righteousness that accompanies this anger reaction.

Now, let’s explore the exact same scenario, but with a different thought pattern:

You’re driving on the expressway. Someone cuts you off. You push on the brakes. You notice you get scared and then you start thinking: I wonder if that person saw me? Maybe they were rushing because they have someone they love in the hospital. Maybe they were distracted because if they get to work late today, they will be let go. Or maybe they are just rude and entitled and, in that case, you can still feel compassion for them because they did not have the fortune of having the polite upbringing you had. By doing this, you become empathetic and can literally feel compassion instead of anger. And empathy and compassion are way more beneficial for your mental and physical health.

Considering these two examples, I want you to remember one very important fact: whichever of the two approaches you choose, you still will NOT know what the truth of that moment was. Unless of course, you chase that person and ask them. Which, btw, I DO NOT recommend because things could escalate quickly when one is angry and someone could end up getting hurt... The point is that you do not know why that person cut you off. So, considering this, which interpretation are you going to go with? One that has a positive effect on your health or another that doesn’t? I don’t know about you, but to me, this is a no-brainer!

There is a lot more I will share with you about managing your emotions and how you can uncover your best self every day but, for now, remember this:

You will experience all sorts of emotions no matter what and whether you want them or not. Emotional intelligence is not about NOT feeling a specific emotion. It’s simply about managing how you feel so that emotions work for you rather than against you.

Believe me, I have been practicing emotional fitness for some time now. Working out your emotional muscles is a continuous process and I can tell you that, as you start to build those muscles, your life will start to completely transform for the better. You’ll feel better. People around you will feel better and love you more. You will be able to think more clearly and you will have the energy to do what it takes to uncover your best self and live life how you want to live life.

Always remember: your best self is already within you and you can uncover it by knowing, loving, and being your most authentic self each day.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learned

What is emotional intelligence and why you need it to build the life you want.



In my videos and articles you’ll hear me talk quite extensively about Emotional Intelligence. After all, it’s what the E.I. in E.I. Jane stands for.

But what actually is Emotional Intelligence and where did the term come from?

Well, simply put, emotional intelligence is the super power that allows you to live life on YOUR terms.

Actually, that’s my definition but I’ll get to why that is in a bit.

Psychology Today more formally defines 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: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.”

That sounds like a mouthful but these three skills of emotional intelligence they speak of can be summed up like this:

  1. Notice or become aware you’re having an emotion
  2. Use it for something, like getting out of danger or making a decision, and
  3. Modify it as needed in order to benefit you or other people.

The term Emotional Intelligence, or “E.I.”, was made popular by Daniel Goleman. He breaks it down into five main components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Internal Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

Self-Awareness is the ability to acknowledge and understand your emotions, moods, and motivations. It's also the ability to understand how your actions affect others and how others' actions affect you.

Self-regulation is the ability to guide those emotions where you want them. It's about controlling your impulses. In other words, thinking before you act. Internal motivation includes an interest for learning, a desire for growth, for self-improvement, for achievement...

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others. In other words, to put yourself in someone else's shoes. In order to effectively do this, though, you must first understand yourself and your emotions, which goes back to "self-awareness."

Social Skills include the ability to understand and use social cues to find similarities between you and other people in order to manage and build relationships and networks.

As you can see, it makes sense why emotional intelligence is what allows you to live life on your terms. When you have your emotions working for you, there’s nothing, except death, that can stop you from accomplishing what you want and from positively contributing to your loved ones and society as a whole. If you think you or someone you know lacks any of these skills then I have GREAT news for you!

Emotional Intelligence and everything related to it can be learned!

You don’t need to have been born with it and pretty much anyone and everyone from all ages, backgrounds and parts of the world can benefit from having more of it in their lives. So yes, if you have the ability to learn and apply knowledge, then you can most definitely become emotionally intelligent!

Many of us think we have no control over our emotions but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, the one thing we can actually control is how we feel and what we do. We cannot control our parents, our children, our pets, the weather, our significant others, the person who cuts us off in traffic, or the fact the network canceled our favorite TV show!

But we can most definitely control how we manage our emotions. Namely, we can redirect thoughts and find meanings that work for us rather than against us.

Now, I want to be clear about what I mean here. Managing or “controlling” our emotions does not mean we won’t feel emotions. Emotions, like thoughts, can arise “randomly” and we can classify them as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Emotional Intelligence is not about suppressing emotions. It is about understanding where they come from, why they exist, and how you can manipulate them in a way that will benefit you rather than hurt you.

I have a funny joke to share about how quickly one can change an emotion in order to help oneself:

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of this bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, and anything he could think of to set a good example. Nothing worked.

Finally, John got fed up and he yelled at the parrot. And, the bird yelled back. John shook the parrot, and the bird got angrier and ruder. Finally, in a moment of desperation, John put the bird in the refrigerator freezer. For a few minutes, John heard the bird squawk and kick and scream. Then, suddenly, everything became quiet. Not a peep for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the bird, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arm and said: "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I am truly sorry, and I will do everything to correct my poor behavior."

John was astonished at the bird's change of attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had caused such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued:

"May I ask what the chicken did?"

Now, this is a bit of dark humor but the message is still applicable: this parrot went from expressing anger and entitlement to a completely different emotional state: fear. Since it didn’t want to end up like the chicken, it did what it felt it had to do to stay alive… it was able to quickly change its thinking pattern and its behavior to something that was more beneficial to it at the time.

You too can do the same at will...and without having to be put in a freezer (although if that’s your thing, I respect it).

You do have the ability to shift useless or hurtful emotional patterns to others that are more beneficial.

And the way to do it is to notice what pattern of thinking has led you to a certain feeling and to then decide to shift that pattern to another that will serve you better. Don’t believe me? Let’s do the following exercise:

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine the following scenario:

You are driving on the expressway and, all of a sudden, someone cuts you off and you almost crash. How do you feel? Most people in this scenario get both scared and angry. You get scared obviously because you almost crashed but why do you get angry? There are common thought patterns that lead someone to anger and they happen in a matter of milliseconds: this person is rude. This person is breaking social norms. This person did this to me on purpose. Etc. There’s always a sense of entitlement and righteousness that accompanies this anger reaction.

Now, let’s explore the exact same scenario, but with a different thought pattern:

You’re driving on the expressway. Someone cuts you off. You push on the brakes. You notice you get scared and then you start thinking: I wonder if that person saw me? Maybe they were rushing because they have someone they love in the hospital. Maybe they were distracted because if they get to work late today, they will be let go. Or maybe they are just rude and entitled and, in that case, you can still feel compassion for them because they did not have the fortune of having the polite upbringing you had. By doing this, you become empathetic and can literally feel compassion instead of anger. And empathy and compassion are way more beneficial for your mental and physical health.

Considering these two examples, I want you to remember one very important fact: whichever of the two approaches you choose, you still will NOT know what the truth of that moment was. Unless of course, you chase that person and ask them. Which, btw, I DO NOT recommend because things could escalate quickly when one is angry and someone could end up getting hurt... The point is that you do not know why that person cut you off. So, considering this, which interpretation are you going to go with? One that has a positive effect on your health or another that doesn’t? I don’t know about you, but to me, this is a no-brainer!

There is a lot more I will share with you about managing your emotions and how you can uncover your best self every day but, for now, remember this:

You will experience all sorts of emotions no matter what and whether you want them or not. Emotional intelligence is not about NOT feeling a specific emotion. It’s simply about managing how you feel so that emotions work for you rather than against you.

Believe me, I have been practicing emotional fitness for some time now. Working out your emotional muscles is a continuous process and I can tell you that, as you start to build those muscles, your life will start to completely transform for the better. You’ll feel better. People around you will feel better and love you more. You will be able to think more clearly and you will have the energy to do what it takes to uncover your best self and live life how you want to live life.

Always remember: your best self is already within you and you can uncover it by knowing, loving, and being your most authentic self each day.

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