I have contemplated writing an article on the basics of emotional intelligence for quite some time. As I prepared to write over the course of a few weeks now, I became paralyzed. I could not put a single word to paper as I tried to define the concept from a clinical standpoint.
What I realized is the concept of emotional intelligence is not clinical for me, nor many of you. We live with emotional intelligence, and lack thereof, every day in our home and business life.
What I Believed Emotional Intelligence Was 10 Years Ago
Until ten years ago, emotional intelligence meant listening and responding to others so I can provide for their needs. While this sounds good, it was not. I would give for the needs of others, forsaking my own. I spent 90 percent of the time listening and providing solicited and unsolicited solutions, often to the detriment of my financial, physical, and mental well-being. While many saw me as emotionally intelligent and mature, the truth was I was practicing insanity. I continued to neglect myself, care for others in an over-the-top way, and expected things in my life to get better. But with each episode my life became worse.
I can relay countless tales of needless suffering that should not have happened had I really understood emotional intelligence. Had I understood what it means to be emotionally sober.
Defining True Emotional Intelligence
So, let’s start by defining emotional intelligence. Wikipedia defines it “as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Emotional intelligence also reflects abilities to join intelligence, empathy and emotions to enhance thought and understanding of interpersonal dynamics.” This definition comes from A Dictionary of Psychology By Andrew Coleman and John D. Mayer’s 2008 article, “Human Abilities: Emotional Intelligence,” found in the Annual Review of Psychology.
My Missing Key
What is the key to this definition? The key is using emotional intelligence “to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”
Although I can read people well and empathize with most situations, I could not take my own emotions into account and allow a holistic picture to guide my thoughts and behavior. I was a martyr of the worst kind, suffering because I did not know how to temper my wish to help others with the reality of my personal needs too. So, I gave and gave until I had nothing left emotionally, physically, and financially.
I Awoke When I had Nothing Left to Give
This continued until I had an awakening. I realized that I had nothing left to give. I was bankrupt, had lost my home, lost relationships, and lost a job I loved due to my own mistakes. By not taking care of my needs I cannot care for others. It was at that point in my life I found a life coach. My coach, who I am forever grateful, helped me to see where I had forgotten myself and why.
She helped me to envision my goals for my life and how to create action plans to get to them. She put me on a path of self-awareness. Not to be self-centered, but to learn to take care of my needs so I can better use my emotional intelligence to serve others. It has been a long journey and one I will be on for the rest of my life. But a journey well worth taking.
Continuing the Life Lessons
I have had other coaches since then. I have studied emotional intelligence in depth and learned self-care at the same time. This life-lesson has given me a holistic outlook on life and business. An outlook I share with my family and each client I serve.
I am now married to a man I love. We have a healthy, emotionally mature relationship and raise our two sons to express their emotions. I have a thriving business helping entrepreneurs, small business owners, and all humans find balance and emotional maturity in business and life.
Are You Ready to Learn These Life Lessons Too?
Would you like to learn how to use your emotional intelligence holistically, improving your communications at the same time? I can help you reach these goals if you will look at every aspect of your life and work hard to make the right changes for you. Only you will know for sure what changes you need, but I can help you consider your life with a fresh perspective. I can help you find areas that need change. Then I will help you make an actionable plan and take the first step. I will be there to support you as you continue walking towards emotional freedom in business and life.