We need to build our capacity for emotional intelligence – how we manage our own feelings and the feelings of others in our lives.
We all feel many things in our lives. Happiness, sadness, confusion, anger, joy, mischievousness, anxiety, grief, elation, contentment, boredom, satisfaction – the list can go on and on. All of these emotions are very human and most all of will experience them and many more besides all the time.
All emotions have their place in our lives and inherently are not “right” or wrong”. What we feel is as important as what we think. Most of us will not apply our heads properly to a situation unless our hearts are with it. We need to want to do it, to want to be a part of something that excites us and generates positive feelings. It can be hard to overcome negative feelings and work through a situation until we have established mastery of it and have turned the negatives into positives. This challenge faces us all in our lives and we cannot shy away from it. At the same time, we can’t afford to allow ourselves to be beset by negativity on all sides and to yield to it.
Our personalities, our physical being, and our external circumstances may well influence us to feel some emotions more than others, or to try to block out feelings altogether. Of itself, this may or may not be that relevant, although too much of one emotion out of an appropriate context probably means things are not as they might normally be in most people. Our society and our community may well suggest or even push us towards the pursuit of one or more emotions. Funnily enough, this privileging of one emotion or set of emotions may well cause us to feel the opposite when we realise that we can’t be one thing all of the time. Happiness as an emotion is a classic example of this; no-one can be happy all of the time and many of us experience happiness in different ways and for different reasons. Some of us are inclined to be happy or sad or angry more often than others. This may be permanent or temporary.
Isn't this all we request from love?
A brave, vulnerable and sincere exposure,
To be candidly seen in all our faults
Blemishes, quirks and flaws
Yet still be so implicitly loved
And most of all,
The real questions about our emotions, therefore, are to do with their emergence and our treatment of them at the right time and in the right place. When they do appear, can we recognise them? Can we manage them according to the context? And what of the emotions of others? Can we manage relationships well by recognising and responding to these emotions in a manner which best suits both the relationship and the needs of the people within it? It can’t be all one way or the other. It can’t be all about ourselves and it can’t be all about other people. And we can’t allow the emergence of a specific feeling to govern all aspects of our being automatically and without some sort of filter at any given point in time.
Taking the time to invest in a deeper understanding of what we and others feel, to develop a deeper appreciation of what motivates us, to hone skills in honest and balanced self-assessment and the sympathetic and constructive evaluation of others, to acquire greater control of the range of possible responses to emotions in the moment, to direct energy where it is most needed, and to take the time to allow other feelings to wash over us at times where we need to take a step back from them and acknowledge that these powerful feelings will pass and things will return to normal – all of these are helpful for us as we go on our journeys.
For many of us, it’s hard to act with good grace and forbearance a lot of the time, especially when we see something that does not accord with what we want in the moment or what we think is right. Yet what is clear is that we can and should gain over those processes that we can learn to help us to develop the competencies of emotional intelligence. They will become in time a key component of the self-efficacy that allows us to organise our character, competency and wellness towards our lives and also of the adaptive expertise that allows us to turn new problems into successful solutions.
There are well-tested processes of emotional intelligence for managing feelings that pay due deference to the need to acknowledge feelings and position them deftly in the fabric of our lives without suppressing them inhumanely, just as much as there are similar processes that can help us to honour the dignity and worth of other people while also recognising and managing their emotions with the profound realisation that their feelings are likely to be at least similar, if not just the same as and certainly just as valid as our own need to be accepted and to belong, to strive and to succeed, to do good and to have good done to us. Emotional intelligence must be, therefore, deeply informed by our values - we manage emotions, we don’t manipulate them.
Indeed all of what we do with our feelings needs to be framed within that overarching good character that allows us to attain a sense of belonging, fulfil our potential and to do what is good and right. We need, therefore, to learn to respect our emotions and those of others and harness them to the higher purpose which informs The Pathway To Excellence. Qualities of humility, self-discipline, and patience will go a long way towards helping us to take stock of ourselves and each other so that we might learn how to apply these competencies of emotional intelligence with increasing kindness and love in our lives.
We can contemplate our capacity for Emotional Intelligence by considering the following questions: