Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be self-aware of one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others (empathy) while being able to control and manage one’s own emotions (Ferrett, 2018).
Interpersonal skills, such as self-esteem and stress management, greatly influence emotional intelligence as part of being emotionally intelligent is self-awareness and self-management. When one can acknowledge and comprehend their emotions, then one can manage them better. We need to know what we are feeling and why are feeling this way in order to figure out the best way to react.
Sometimes, our emotions get the best of us and we react before we can truly think about the situation and we later regret it. This is referred to as emotional hijacking, also know as amygdala hijacking. This phenomenon occurs when our amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, sends a fight or flight response that doesn’t allow our neocortex, the part of the brain that process rational thinking, to do its job (Nuetrino, 2012).
In order to best manage this phenomenon, one needs to be aware that this phenomenon exists and can occur. Then, we need to be able to catch ourselves before we allow it to take control. Once we catch ourselves, we should pause for at least ten seconds (or longer) before we do anything else. During this time, our initial adrenaline rush begins to weaken and dissipate, which then allows us to engage in rational thought process (PMSL Training, 20125). After much our steam has cooled off, we should begin to acknowledge what we are feeling and why we feeling that way. This is called mindfulness and this will help us react better to the situation because our neocortex will start doing its job and begin to analyze the situation and rationalize the next actions we should take.
Self-awareness and control are two key elements of emotional intelligence. The third component, empathy, or the ability to be aware of the emotions of others and understand from their perspective, is an equally vital part of emotional intelligence (“Empathy,” n.d). By mastering all three components of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, empathy, and management) we can begin to use it to enhance our personal and professional lives.
Specifically, there are three ways I use emotional intelligence to enhance my life. First, I start with myself. I begin to dig deep into my beliefs and acknowledge the biases and experiences that shape who I am. I ask others their opinions about me and reflect on their answers and compare them with my own. I play devil’s advocate with myself and I seek to try to understand why I think or feel the way I do.
The second way I enhance my life through emotional intelligence is by getting to know others around me. To truly empathize with others, I must understand who they are, what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way. This means I should set aside my pre-existing beliefs about them and just carefully and actively listen to them. This includes asking thoughtful questions.
The third, but not necessarily last, way I use emotional intelligence to enhance my life is by actively empathizing with others. Actively empathizing means to truly feel how others feel (although, one can’t truly feel how others feel but can get close to it) and to take actions that seek to improve the current situation. This could mean just being there for emotional support. If it’s a professional setting, understanding their needs and accommodating to them may go a long way in the long-run.
Emotional Intelligence involves three distinct components: self-awareness, empathy, and management. Emotional hijacking can occur during the heat of the moment but practicing mindfulness can prevent it. Using emotional intelligence in all areas of one’s life can enhance your relationship with others thus enhancing your overall quality of life.
Empathy (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/empathy
Ferret, S. K. (2018). Peak performance: Success in college and beyond (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Neutrino. (2012, September 8). What is an amygdala hijack? Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.gostrengths.com/what-is-an-amygdala-hijack/
PMSL Training (2015, October 1). Amygdala hijack: English. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u3UvXqArqs&feature=youtu.be