How many times per day do you feel an emotion? Three times? Maybe five, ten or maybe twenty? What if I told you that you feel thousands of emotions per day? Do you find that number hard to believe?
Ok, let’s ask another question: How often do you breathe each day? Again, the answer is thousands of times. How many of these times do you come to consciously realize it? Probably rarely, at best!
Therefore, you can understand that there are things happening in your body and mental behaviour that you are not necessarily aware of as they function. One of them is a continuous experiencing of emotions that last from a few seconds up to a few minutes! At every moment of your life you “like” or “don’t like” things you come across :
waking up after a good night sleep [like!], drinking coffee in a rush in order to go to work [don’t like!], listening to your favorite song while driving [like!], facing a huge traffic jam [don’t like!], passing by a nice neighbourhood [like!], finding a nice parking spot [like!], discussing work with your stressful boss [don’t like!], having a lunch break with a dear colleagues [like!], staying extra hours at the office [don’t like!], going to watch your favourite movie with your partner [like!].
These are only the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg of your daily emotions, which number in the thousands, but you, and all of us actually, have never paid any serious attention to them!
Nonetheless, have you ever thought that these emotions, apart from making you feel different than the usual pleasant or unpleasant sensation, have some deeper meaning to offer you?
That’s why I’m here, to give you Five Secret Hacks for Emotional Intelligence. These hacks will help you not only better understand your emotions and why they happen, but also give you a healthier, happier quality of life :
1. My Emotions Are Valuable Messengers from My Inner Self to My Conscious Self
The reason why I should take a closer and more careful daily look at my emotions is that they constitute my precious inner dialogue. This dialogue takes place so that I can understand that at any time one or several parameters of my present state are agreeable (positive emotion) or unpleasant (negative emotion) regarding my well being and, in the latter case, I need to change or deal with the responsible causes. For example, when a car doesn’t stop at a crossroad, where a huge STOP sign used to be, and almost crashed into my car, my first emotion is instantaneous fear, an emotion that I experience as a sudden punch and then a void in the stomach and chest, with a heightened visual perception and a trembling (because of the sudden rise of adrenaline) of my legs. This emotion forces me to take action and protect myself from an unpleasant event: an imminent accident.
In another example, if a very close relative of mine asks me to lend him money, when I know that he has a bad spending behaviour, I will receive an emotion that feels like \a strong stomach twist. This is an emotion of disgust, and in this specific context indicates to me that if I lent this person money, she probably won’t give it back, and I will get angry and frustrated.
In other words my emotions are the messenger of my inner self * to me (* i.e. the conscious part of me) and carry important information to my conscious self, which, otherwise, could not perceive this information. Therefore, if I detect a certain emotion and understand its message, I can do the necessary actions that will lead to my well-being.
2. My inability to understand my emotions isn’t innate! It’s cultivated!:
There are several reasons why we don’t notice feelings we experience every day.
a) The educational institutions, family unit and the social systems of our modern western culture encourages to a large degree the development of logical skills but do not cultivate emotional skills despite the fact that the two are equally important for human brain development and behavior.
b) Society conditions us to label some of our true feelings as dangerous or illegitimate emotions that should be ignored so as not to disturb social balances. For example, I cannot easily express my anger, because it is not “comme il faut”; or I cannot express my jealousy or frustration because it is not an accepted, pleasant behaviour).
c) A lack of proper emotional education in school leads individuals to mismanage their emotional behaviour, mainly by disregarding an emotion, instead of recognising it and assessing its context.
For example, Lisa, a 28-year-old female client of mine who started visiting me because of very intense stomach burns, aches and an irritable bowel syndrome that resisted pharmaceutical treatment. After a series of sessions, she came to realise that as a child she was totally discouraged from expressing her anger or her frustration, because this wasn’t the “correct thing to do for a good girl of a good family”. Instead, she had developed a particular sense of humour with much sarcasm to publicly legalise a disguised version of her emotion. Her current symptoms were due to her great stress and anger towards her fiancé for intense differences they were facing in the preparation of their common life. She was keeping these emotions unexpressed, and this was causing her not only a continuous bad mood, but those particularly uncomfortable body symptoms.
3. The rationalization of emotions isn’t an actual solution!
This emotional disregard often results in a defensive mechanism in order to protect our psyche from great emotional pain, which arises from experiencing a negative or intense emotion. And why is there pain? Because we don’t know how to read what the negative emotion has to tell us. In other words, our communication with our inner self is broken at that time! In order to avoid the possibility of emotional pain, we tend to create elaborate rationalized thoughts, interpretations and scenarios as a way to cancel the emotional action.
Unfortunately, the only result from this behaviour is the suppression of the emotion. It is not resolved, it is hidden, somewhere in our mental mechanisms, and if it gets bigger or stays there for too long, it will finally be expressed as a somatic symptom, or otherwise “somatised” (soma in Greek = body). There are many various possible forms of somatisation: headaches, regular colds, low immune system, gastrointestinal conditions, loss of concentration and memory, loss of appetite, insomnia, loss of hair, autoimmune conditions, cancer, skin conditions, to name a few… The only way to deal with an emotion is to deal with it emotionally and not rationally!
During my career I have witnessed many of my clients learning how to recognize their emotions for the first time. In one case a 40-year-old client of mine named John was unable to describe whether he had experienced anger, fear or sadness. All he could say was that he was feeling a huge discomfort, insomnia and a defused sense of irritability, which urged him to respond in a sarcastic way even to his most loved ones. He had also created elaborate rationalisations and arguments to express his discomfort. But that wasn’t enough for his emotional health. He started somatising the aforementioned organic symptoms.
4. Thankfully, there isn’t a time frame for gaining Healthy Emotional Intelligence.
It is something you can do at any time, even if it is completely new to you. It is also something you can recover if you had Healthy Emotional Intelligence at one time.
My emotional communication and understanding can begin or come back any time I decide. This means that depending on when I’m ready, I can re-educate my emotional alphabet.
This is especially important to know! For me, it offers motivation and confidence (if not relief) that it is never too late to change and improve my life. At first, I need to remember the time period in my life when I was in close contact with my emotions. This period is actually when I was spontaneously and naturally understanding the function, expression and usefulness of emotions. For reasons stated above, slowly I stopped giving attention to my emotions and especially the messages they carried to me.
When did this shift take place? For me it was early in my childhood. I invite you to observe how toddlers act and react. You can observe that they have an intact emotional intelligence (assuming they are brought up in a healthy environment). They cry only when they feel hurt or frustration (physically or emotionally), and their emotion can change instantly from sadness to joy, simply because the stimulus causing the emotion ceases to exist. They express their emotions for apparent reasons (fatigue, hunger, illness or a conflict with another child). But what is most fascinating is that they use their emotions to express themselves in the moment, and once that expression is understood, they don’t cling to negative emotion. They get a clean emotional slate to start fresh again.
Let’s think again about my 28-year-old client, Lisa. The moment she realised what was bothering her with her wedding preparations, she started discussing it with her fiancé and they started finding solutions that would satisfy both of them. During her emotional training, she found out that as soon as she paid attention to her negative emotions and dealt openly with them, she was experiencing larger moments of tranquility and happiness and her stomach irritations lessened and eventually disappeared.
5. There is a way to turn this rationalisation process around and relearn how to understand emotions!
The amazing fact with human emotional intelligence is that no matter what moment in my life I decide to gain back these “lost” abilities, I can really do it, and successfully repossess them.
Let’s go back to John, my 40-year-old client. During our sessions, after a learning path to emotional training, he soon started realising that in many cases his discomfort was his suppressed anger and in many others it was fear. He had learned as a child – encouraged by his environment – to not openly express either of these two emotions! The moment he started recognising this mechanism and his underlying emotions, the physical symptoms gradually disappeared and he felt relaxed and able to enjoy a more fulfilled life with the people he loved.
If you think that your emotional recognition needs a boost, you may ask the advice of a psychological specialist. A very important aspect of psychological assistance or coaching with an experienced counsellor, coach or therapist is that they can successfully re-educate individuals, in order for them to learn their emotional alphabet and understand what their emotions tell them about their well-being. This education can be beneficial and apply to all people, regardless of age, education, or background! Best of all, gaining or regaining the ability to recognise our emotions provides us with the potential to better our quality of life and start enjoying it immediately!
If you are keen to adopt this new behavior, you can contact me via email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: +30 6983 282 252 & +30 210 4675543 or by Skype.
My sessions take place at my offices in Athens and Salamina Island or via Skype and Hangouts.
After a longstanding career in research at the National Centre of Scientific Research of France (CNRS) and the prestigious Collège de France of Paris, I have spent more than a decade focusing my activity in the successful treatment of phobias, panic and stress disorders, as well as the personal development and reinforcement of personal strengths, soft skills and emotional intelligence. I am a trained and expert therapist of these conditions.
My therapeutic approach is based upon the application of scientific and psychotherapeutic proven techniques for a comprehensive and successful approach to dealing with the aforementioned issues.
I am a certified Cognitive Psychologist and a Member of the official Association of Greek Psychologists (SEPS). I am also a Certified Member of the European Federation of Psychological Associations (EFPA), and hold a European Certification of Psychological Practice (EuroPsy) in more than 19 countries of the European continent. I am also a member of the International Society of Emotional Intelligence and Member of the International Network of Teachers of CEB (Cultivating Emotional Balance).
I provide Individual Consulting and Therapy for Personal Development and Self Awareness, EQ education (including for the professional field), Life Coaching for successful living and career, Meditative Techniques for Mindfulness, Concentration, Relaxation and Equanimity, as well as group seminars on the topics of Personal Development, CEB, Life Coaching for Successful Living and Goal Setting.
I would be happy to hear your story.
Last modified: November 18, 2018