The concept of emotional intelligence is different from other, more traditional concepts of intelligence. It refers to our ability to identify, manage, and respond appropriately to emotions in ourselves and others. Emotional intelligence is related to multiple mental constructs, like empathy, awareness, and problem-solving abilities. It’s not a topic that gets a lot of attention, but putting time into honing our emotional intelligence can have many benefits.
People have a habit of letting their emotions take control of their thoughts and actions. This trait is more pronounced in some, but most of us have had such an experience at least once in our lives. Emotions can be hard to control due to their intensity and abruptness. A high emotional intelligence is associated with an improved ability to manage emotions, either through direct suppression or by using a coping strategy like mindful meditation.
In order to develop our emotional intelligence, we must first become aware of the way that emotions influence our daily lives. Our minds are constantly awash with information that isn’t relevant to whatever we’re doing at the time. Memories, anxieties about the future, and random biological processes are all capable of spontaneously triggering emotions. Even if they don’t cause emotions directly, this background noise can certainly leave us primed to be more affected by environmental emotional triggers, like those experienced during regular daily communications. Becoming aware of these influences is the first step toward addressing their impact on our lives.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
There are a number of ways to improve emotional intelligence, one of which is by practicing mindfulness. A mindful perspective places focus on the present, helping us to better deal with the moment at hand, and reducing the influence of the constant background noise within our minds. As mentioned above, much of this noise can cause us to be more emotionally reactive. When we react to emotions without any type of thought or intervention, we are failing to use our emotional intelligence. Mindfulness helps us develop our emotional intelligence by teaching us to stay in the moment and to become less susceptible to mental activities that don’t directly apply to the present.