In the last article, I explored how EQ is a mental model and that we can’t resolve emotions from an intellectual space. It can actually lead us to greater emotional overwhelm, and dampening of emotions
While I was doing background research for these articles, I came across a TED Talk by an emotional intelligence expert.
He’d been teaching EQ for over 20 years. He’d also been through 10 years of therapy. Yet, he still struggled with high levels of anxiety.
He decided that he must have an anxiety personality.
The issue with that conclusion, of course, is that it’s disempowering. If you have an anxious personality, you can’t do much about it. It’s just the way it is.
Strangely, he didn’t question the models he’d been working with. Whether some of the assumptions might be faulty. Whether there might be something superior.
As long as we continue to approach problems with the same level of thinking that created them, we will remain stuck. We will remain in inner struggle.
First off, we have to recognize that emotional awareness isn’t a direct path to behavioral change.
If it was, we wouldn’t have a booming diet industry to the tune of over $270 billion. Nor an obesity epidemic. There wouldn’t be people around the world struggling with addictions.
If it was, we’d have more inner peace and less inner turmoil and overwhelm.
Becoming aware of your emotions is an important first step. But it’s not enough. We need to know how to process and digest emotions in a healthy way. We can’t do that from a fear-based place which is where mental approaches often leave us. We have to transform the way we think of and approach emotions.
Secondly, thinking that just because you’re holding your emotions in check, they’re not commanding you is also false. We need to understand emotions in the larger context of our minds and consciousness.
Experts estimate 90 to 95% of our minds are unconscious.
Our minds have a neat little trick called repression. When our feelings get overwhelming or something threatens our worldview, instead of blowing a gasket, our minds dump those things into the unconscious. It happens so fast and automatically that we have zero conscious awareness of it.
They’re not really gone, though. We seem naturally wired toward greater health and growth. Those tamped down thoughts and feeling will nibble on the edges of your consciousness, looking to be invited back so you can reach new levels of psychological integration and coherence.
And even from your subconscious, they’ll continue to affect your behavior and thinking.
EQ teaches people to be aware of their emotions. Trying to be aware of every emotion of yours and others at every juncture of the day can quickly become overwhelming. It can actually lead to increased repression and overwhelm.
Juggling too many emotions without the means to process and digest them increases the likelihood of you repressing (or suppressing) them. Yet, our rational brains often tell us we have everything under control, even when we don’t.
That can mean more disconnection when the aim is more connection.
Over time, your emotions can become blunted. One symptom of dampened feelings is feeling flat, like pop that’s been left out and all the bubbly has dissipated. Or not feeling the same passion that you once did. Or the feeling that only part of you is showing up. Many people reach a point in their lives when that becomes an all too common feeling in their day.
The assumption that controlling emotions by rational thought will lead to good emotional health is faulty. We need to question our thinking when it concludes that this is as good as it gets and we’ll just have to live with it. We need to acknowledge the depth of power and influence emotions have in our lives – and transform our view of and relationship to our emotions.
Otherwise our health and growth remain limited.
Catherine Sherlock, Founder of Higher Mindfulness, plays on the edge of human potential elevating lives and leadership. Through insights and paradigm shifts, upending the norms of our times and expanding and transforming minds, she helps people change inner struggle to peace, move from overwhelm to empowerment and connect with their capacities and potential. That opens the door to profound transformations in the way we look at and live in the world.