Emotional Intelligence: Yes, It’s Just As Important As Logic
I’m reading a book right now (because I studied English and yes I geek out over a great book) by Brene Brown, called Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Let that one marinate for a second. In it, Brown shows her findings from studying vulnerability and shame, among both men and women. She lays out the myths we’ve clung to that warp our perception on vulnerability, that it’s a way of showing weakness. But the truth she presents, is as crucial to know as it is terrifying: vulnerability is a great strength, not a weakness. And although it’s shame (beliving I am bad, rather than I did something bad) that keeps us from being vulnerable, vulnerability is the key to establishing meaningful connections with other people. That means we have emotions for a reason, and ignoring them will not make them disappear.
Damnit. And I thought that in crawling under my covers to hide, like a little turtle escaping into its shell, I could simply get by. Life straight up sucks sometimes, as we all know – after all, what deeper way to bond with your crew than after a breakup, or losing a job?
It can be incredibly frightening to be vulnerable when our emotions feel like our greatest weakness. No one likes being rejected (I may love watching it, but going on The Bachelor as a contestant also sounds like my worst nightmare ja feel me?) None of us want to completely bare ourselves, especially without really knowing how we’ll be received. Sometimes people are mean, and people can definitely hurt us. But the truth is as crucial to know as it is terrifying: we need vulnerability to get the most out of both (1) our relationships and (2) of our lives in general. Because when you shut off your feelings to shield yourself from the bad stuff, you cut off receiving all the good stuff, too (aka deep and meaningful connections with other peeps that go way beyond the warm and fuzzies.)
And to achieve this, it takes emotional intelligence (or EQ).
We’ll call EQ here the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to improve both internal and external circumstances. Basically, you want it, it’s good for you, and it leads to a better life. But attaining EQ, much like acquiring abs or whiter teeth, takes battling a couple of demons first. To begin your journey to emotional intelligence, these three steps will put you in the right direction:
Start with some self-examining
It’s so important to know what causes you to feel shame. Men and women both feel shame, but in different ways. Ladies who Brown polled for her book, repeated the same source of shame for themselves: the impossible expectation to look perfect, do perfect, and basically be perfect, all while making it look super easy. Ouch. But don’t we agree? Culture has shaped us to attack a woman’s appearance far quicker than her intelligence or credentials. What does this look like specifically for you?
Armor up to battle shame, not other people
Brown links it to “defense against the dark arts,” which I’m obsessed with. When you can call out what’s causing you shame, you can identify it as the lie that it is. For example, mayyyybe you told a little lie (Heyyy boss I’m sick, I can’t come in today, instead you’re at Sam Smith’s concert.) But that does not make you a liar. One leaves room for improvement, but how is there room to grow for the other?
If more of us took this step to heart, we could learn to love others well without our personal shame getting in the way. When another girl bitches you out for something she doesn’t like about you (let’s say your hair style), chances are pretty darn high that she struggles with that same insecurity herself. Don’t repeat the pattern so many girls have already perpetuated.
Ask for feedback
Hear me out. I would argue that a major factor that leads many relationships to tank is lack of emotional intelligence, on either or both sides. Do you know the affect you have on people? (i.e. Do you know you actually stank? Take care of it.) Have you avoided feedback from others at the expense of the ongoing negative impact on those around you? Then it’s time to woman up and take it. Allow those you trust to share areas where you may have room for improvement. Hooray for #selfawareness!
Our massive lack of EQ has fallen into a bit of an epidemic of its own, but it doesn’t have to continue. Having awareness of what’s going on upstairs in your noggin changes everything. The way you perceive yourself seeps into how you perceive others and the world around you. NBD. We ladies can stop the pattern and even reverse it, but it may call for scrutinizing some uncomfortable or painful parts of ourselves, or our pasts. As difficult as the process is, it’s one of the huuuugest steps you can take to make the world a little more of a pleasant place to live. And who doesn’t want that?
Cover via Quora