Psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman first introduced a concept called emotional intelligence in 1995. His idea was the ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success. As a professional counselor, I spend a lot of time working with my clients by encouraging them to become more emotionally aware–the first step in cultivating emotional intelligence. Many clients learned as children to suppress their emotions, due to a chaotic or traumatic childhood. Other clients believe showing emotions is a sign of weakness. If you don’t understand your emotions, and allow yourself to feel, you won’t be able to meet your needs, thus you will be stuck in a state of discontentment.
In her Ted Talk, “The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage,” psychologist Susan David shares how our actions, careers, relationships, health, and happiness are all affected by the way we deal with our emotions. She challenges us to find emotional truth in a culture that values positivity.
Here are some key takeaways from her talk to improve your emotional intelligence:
• Research shows emotions that are denied become stronger. Internal pain always comes out, and someone pays the price: our children, our peers, our society, or ourselves.
• Pushing aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity results in the inability to develop skills to deal with the world as it is– not as we want it to be.
• Emotions are information about what we care about, because we tend to feel strong emotions about what matters to us most.
• Accurately defining your emotions helps determine the precise cause of your feelings. This activates the readiness potential in the brain, allowing you to take the correct value-aligned steps for change.
• Emotional truth results in engagement, creativity, and allows innovation to flourish.
“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life,” states David. There is value in noticing your emotions with curiosity, compassion, and courage.
Written by: Ann Sheerin