Sometimes leaders use the phrase “Emotional Intelligence” to describe people who can stay calm under pressure or handle highly charged situations. Handling emotions with intelligence is more than that. Emotions connect our mind, heart, and spirit. They carry energy and wisdom we ignore at our own peril. In the book “Emotional Genius” Karla McLaren explains that every emotion has a clear reason for being. Emotions exist to protect and inform us, and they have a reason for showing up when and how they do. When we refuse to acknowledge them-in ourselves or in others-they will escalate until we respond.
Emotional intelligence is really about quickly and accurately processing important messages we are getting from our heart and our environment. We must recognize these messages with a compassionate and logical mind that can recognize and meet the needs the emotion is expressing. Doing this builds our wisdom, self-awareness, and self-efficacy. Ignoring or ”stuffing” these messages simply causes them to escalate until they are heard. For example, anger is about boundaries. The question to ask when anger shows up is “What boundary has been crossed?” and “What needs to be supported or taken care of ?” If we ask these questions of our anger and answer and address them honestly, we are giving ourselves and others respect for our needs. If we ignore them, the anger can escalate to rage.
What emotion is most challenging for you? What is it trying to tell you? If you can witness and respond to what your emotion is saying with compassion and respect, you will be on the path to higher emotional intelligence in the truest sense.
Remember that our emotions are there to help, protect, and inform us. They will only stay or escalate if we ignore the wise, important messages they send us.