The best way to look at your emotional intelligence is to think of your feelings as being guides to a healthy life and a healthy, sustainable world. Our bodies have the natural ability to send signals to us when our needs are not met, whether those needs are physical or emotional. For example, when we need sleep, our body sends us signals. When we need food, our bodies send us signals.
In the same way, our bodies send us signals when our emotional needs are not met. For example, maybe we don’t feel appreciated, respected or understood. Our bodies will send us signals to tell us something isn’t quite right.
But there is an important difference between the signals our bodies send for our physical needs vs. those for our emotional needs. The physical need signals are much harder to ignore or talk ourselves out of. We can’t go for years without sleep or food. But we can exist for years without feeling appreciated, understood or respected. We will be suffering, perhaps silently, but we can exist. Yet we cannot thrive our fulfill our potentials. And our physical health will certainly suffer sooner or later.
It is critical then that you pay close attention to your feelings. Many people these days talk about “negative” feelings, but it is more helpful to think of those same feelings as useful signals. We would not call hunger or thirst a “negative” feeling. We would not say to our stomachs “Stop being so negative.”
So use your emotional intelligence. Use the intelligence of nature, of evolution. Use it to help you identify your unique emotional needs. Many of us have been taught about our nutritional needs, but few of us have been taught about our emotional needs.
The danger is that if you aren’t conscious of your emotional needs, and you are not actively managing your life to make sure those needs are met, your physical health will suffer.
You are a unique human being, especially when it comes to your emotional needs. A family of six children might each get the same amount of food each day and the same amount of sleep, and no one dies. But this does not mean they are equal emotionally or their individual emotional needs are being met.
It is very likely one is more sensitive than the others. That same person may be less assertive or aggressive. That same person might need more freedom, more time alone to think, to write, to read, to draw, to create. This is something most traditional schools do not take into account, by the way. In fact, most parents don’t even appreciate the importance of their child’s unique emotional needs. So as an adult it becomes your job to identify your own emotional needs. And if you have children, one of the best things you can do for them is to help them identify their unique emotional needs, and then help create an environment in which those needs are filled to the best of your ability.
An important point to note is that you will find that if you help fill your child’s unique emotional needs you will notice that many of their behaviors which caused problems for you or their teachers will begin to disappear. Psychologist John Gottman says, “"Much of today's popular advice to parents ignores the world of emotions. Instead, it relies on child-rearing theories that address the children's misbehavior, but disregard the feelings that underlie that misbehavior."It can be added that these theories also disregard the child’s emotional needs, which really are the root causes of all behavior, either wanted or unwanted. Traditional schools, by the way, do a very poor job of filling a child or teenager's emotional needs. If you have a highly sensitive child or teen who is finding school painful or unmotivating, it would be a very good idea to consider alternative education options, such as unschooling if that is allowed in your country.
When you start to identify your own emotional needs, and those of your children, if you have them , you will see that there are many things in common. This will help you connect with other humans in the world, remembering for example, that each one needs to feel accepted, appreciated, cared about, free, in control of their lives, listened to, respected, trusted, understood, safe and valued.
When people around the world begin to focus more on these emotional needs, they will notice a diminished need for material things, a greater appreciation for nature, and a greater tolerance of others. In these ways the world will become a more sustainable place to live and raise children.
About The Author:
Steve is a writer and coach in the field of parenting, education, emotions and emotional intelligence.
(Read more posts by stevieq)