Throughout our lives, emotions play an intricate role in shaping our experiences, decisions, and reactions. However, instead of embracing these emotions, many of us often find ourselves hiding from them, especially the negative ones. By doing so, we inadvertently shun a significant aspect of life.

Why do we tend to do this? And what can we do about it?

The Problem: Fearing and Misunderstanding Our Emotions

It’s rooted in our instinctual fear of negative emotions. We somehow believe that avoiding these emotions can save us from potential pain. Yet, in the process of trying to block or avoid one emotion, we often find ourselves engulfed in another – usually, fear. We think that by sidestepping pain, we can lead a life free from emotional turmoil. But, in reality, this evasive action only invites more fear…

This continuous evasion becomes a loop, where we respond to fear by seeking external solutions. We attempt to change our environment, blaming circumstances, or people, thinking it will help alleviate our internal discomfort. But here’s the truth: there’s no external remedy for internal pain. No matter how much we manipulate our surroundings, we cannot change how we genuinely feel deep inside.

Embracing the full spectrum of emotions means we live life in its truest essence. By trying to avoid negative emotions “at all costs”, we’re not shielding ourselves from pain, but rather depriving ourselves of a genuine, holistic life experience.

Harnessing Emotional Intelligence: What Exactly Is It?

Emotional Intelligence has become quite the buzzword in recent years, and for a good reason. It’s more than just a trendy term. It’s an essential skill set that can significantly influence our well-being, relationships, and success.

But what does ‘Emotional Intelligence’ truly mean? Let’s dive into its essence.

Emotional Intelligence, as defined by the pioneering researchers Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso, encompasses the capacity for intricate processing of emotions, both our own and those of others. Moreover, it’s about utilizing this emotional information to guide one’s thoughts and actions. In simpler terms, if you’re emotionally intelligent, you’re attentive to, comprehend, and manage emotions effectively, benefiting both yourself and those around you.

This concept, initially developed by Salovey and Mayer, outlines the evolution of emotional intelligence from childhood to adulthood. Their developmental model consists of 16 steps, categorized into four primary domains:

  1. Perceiving Emotions: Recognizing emotions accurately in oneself and in others.
  2. Using Emotions: Leveraging emotions to facilitate cognitive processes and thinking.
  3. Understanding Emotions: Comprehending emotional language and deciphering the messages emotions convey.
  4. Managing Emotions: Skilfully regulating emotions to achieve specific objectives.

You may want to ask “Why is Emotional Intelligence important?” Research indicates that those with heightened emotional intelligence tend to navigate challenges more efficiently, build more profound and meaningful relationships, and exhibit superior social skills. Moreover, such individuals often report a higher sense of psychological well-being, leading to a more fulfilling life.

Emotions: Presence Over Control

I would like to shed light on something. A common misconception about Emotional Intelligence is that it’s about reigning in or controlling our emotions. While there’s a kernel of truth in this — namely, managing our responses — it’s essential not to conflate managing with suppressing or controlling.

In truth, we don’t need to, nor should we aim to, control our emotions fully. Why? Because emotions are a natural response to our thoughts. They’re signals, messengers, hinting at what’s happening in our minds. Suppressing these messengers can be akin to ignoring vital information.

Embracing Emotional Intelligence doesn’t mean we should change our feelings or the thoughts triggering them. Instead, it invites us to be wholly present with our emotions. Recognizing that a specific thought pattern elicits a particular emotion allows us to understand ourselves better. It’s about acknowledging that emotions arise from our thoughts and understanding there’s nothing inherently dangerous about them.

In essence, Emotional Intelligence guides us to a deeper awareness. When we encounter an emotion, it encourages us to pause and think, “I’m feeling this way because I’m thinking this way.” This level of introspection can be incredibly empowering, allowing us to navigate our emotional landscape with confidence and understanding.

Emotional Intelligence in Practice: Embracing, Not Escaping

One might ask, “What does it look like to put emotional intelligence into action?” The simple answer is embrace.

Many of us hold onto fears about our emotions. We’re scared that if we allow ourselves to feel a specific emotion, we might get consumed by it, losing ourselves in the process. But what if the opposite is true? What if, by confronting our feelings head-on, we can find a sense of liberation?

It’s a misconception that feeling a strong emotion will inevitably lead to acting upon it. With emotional intelligence, we gain the power to process emotions without reacting impulsively. This means we can permit ourselves to experience emotions fully, understanding their origin and acknowledging their presence, without letting them dictate our actions.

When we begin to embrace all emotions, a fascinating transformation takes place. Suddenly, our world starts expanding. We become more receptive to life’s myriad opportunities. We willingly set ambitious goals, push boundaries, and express our authentic selves, irrespective of outside opinions. Why? Because we realise the most intense challenge we can face is our self-generated emotion.

Allowing ourselves to feel emotions, even those we’re afraid of, has profound effects. As we navigate through these feelings, we come out on the other side stronger, more self-aware, and more resilient. After all, the true strength lies in feeling, understanding, and growing from our emotions, not in avoiding them.

The Power of Coaching in Amplifying Emotional Intelligence

While the journey to emotional understanding is deeply personal, it’s not one you need to travel alone. This is where coaching plays a pivotal role. With a skilled coach guiding your journey, you unearth insights that might have otherwise remained buried beneath layers of ingrained beliefs and habits.

At the very heart of the coaching journey is the dive into the mind. We peel back the layers of thought to understand the emotions they conjure. For those who’ve lived under the weight of emotional fear, this exploration becomes a lesson in mindfulness. It’s about grounding oneself in the present, acknowledging emotions, understanding their root, and learning not to be overwhelmed by them.

When you engage in a coaching partnership with me, emotional intelligence becomes the cornerstone of our work. Together, we focus on:

  • Practicing Thought Work: This allows for the cultivation of emotional awareness and resilience. We analyse patterns and break through the barriers preventing optimal emotional well-being.
  • Balancing Emotions: By challenging negative thoughts, we pave the way for a restored equilibrium between positivity and negativity, ensuring neither gets the upper hand.
  • Cultivating Positivity: Through specific, actionable techniques, we’ll explore how to intentionally generate positive emotions, bringing brightness even on the cloudiest days.
  • Strengthening Your “Emotional Muscles”: Like any skill, emotional intelligence can be honed and strengthened with regular practice and attention.

So, if you’re looking to unlock the door to a more emotionally intelligent version of yourself, remember: coaching could very well be what you need.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie



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4.     Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9(3), 185–211.

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 6.     Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.