What Does It Mean to Have Emotional Intelligence?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

What Does It Mean to Have Emotional Intelligence?

You may have heard someone say that you are being “difficult” — or maybe you have called someone else “difficult” before. You may be asking yourself what exactly this means, and how can you make yourself less “difficult”. Emotional intelligence is typically thought of as the ability to recognize, understand, and healthily express one’s own emotions, coupled with the ability to recognize, interpret, and respond to other people’s emotions.

A lot of us struggle with being aware that we have feelings or why we are feeling something at all. We don’t know what to do once we realize we are feeling something. A lot of this comes from feelings of dissociation and avoidance due to trauma. Because of this, it is difficult to trust our intuition — that feeling in our gut or our “moral compass” that directs us to do the right things versus acting on impulse.

This leads us to dismiss our feelings, and dismiss others by proxy. It hinders our ability to experience self-regulation. This can cause negative consequences — for example, we may be more reactive, take things more personally, and/or be a lot more judgemental of ourselves and others. There have been numerous studies that followed the importance of having emotional intelligence and how to attain it.

There are five categories of emotional intelligence.

  1. Self-Awareness: The understanding of what we are feeling and why we are feeling it at any given time, as well as the ability to articulate the feeling itself.
  2. Emotional Self-Management: Self-managing distressing emotions so they don’t cripple us.
  3. Motivation: The ability to internally act via our own personal drive.
  4. Empathy: Having an understanding of what someone else is feeling and experiencing, without taking it on.
  5. Social Skills: Using self-awareness, emotional self-management, and empathy to skillfully form healthy relationships.

Unfortunately, emotional intelligence is not innate or inherent. It is not something we are even born with. It is of the educational variety, meaning we learn it (usually early in life) from the people around us. These individuals are typically our teachers, family members, and friends. If they model this for us and it is at a lower level — or the person lacks emotional intelligence completely — we are likely to pick up on those behaviors instead.

However, there is a way to achieve emotional intelligence. For those of us who either struggle with accessing it or don’t have it all, we can learn it. Here are some ways you can teach yourself this skill:

Awareness and Reduction of Negative Thoughts or Self Talk

A lot of us have that little voice in our head that tells us something is either bad or good. We have a voice that will tell us we are not good enough or that the sky is falling and the worst possible outcome is going to happen. We immediately assume the worst, rather than the best — even though most of the time, the worst possible scenario never ends up happening.

To fight this, we must pay attention to our internal thoughts so we can become aware of when we are being pessimistic. When the awareness is realized, we can make a decision to not believe the unlikely negative outcome and choose a positive one instead.

Don’t Take Things Personally

As humans we are very selfish by nature. We are self-obsessed and most of the time, we think the world revolves around us. This causes us to believe that whatever people are talking about must be about us. We then take it a step further and believe that it is something negative or that these people are gossiping about us.

If someone else experiences success, it doesn’t mean we need to compare ourselves and condemn ourselves as failures. When someone decides they don’t want to hang out with us that day, it doesn’t automatically mean they hate us.

We need to let go of the idea that everything is about us, as well as thinking that everything that is about us is bad. We need to start caring about other people more. The more we give, the more we will receive in the long run.

Stress Management

Stress is something that everyone experiences. It is a difficult topic, and sometimes it feels overwhelming or unbearable. If we’re not worried about big things, it’s little things. Sometimes those little things are more stressful than the big things themselves. Learning and utilizing different tips and tricks to combat stress can help you go on your way.

For example, cutting down on caffeine, practicing physical activity, drawing, playing music, meditating, yoga, splashing water on your face, and doing grounding exercises. These actions can keep you in the moment rather than stuck in the past or worrying about the future.


When we hide our emotions or feelings, we are just procrastinating the inevitable turmoil we are going to experience sooner or later. It is necessary to build emotional intelligence by starting to be vulnerable and completely honest with those around us. Then we can see what the actual problem is and get to the bottom of it instead of building walls that will be difficult to tear down in the long run.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Many times we find ourselves in situations where we snap at someone, which is a reaction. Being proactive is learning how to hold back your impulses and assessing the situation. Then you can make an informed decision about what it is you are going to do, rather than not thinking at all.

At Avalon Malibu, there are many pathways in helping the individual regain confidence and express emotions in a healthy productive way. We treat all types of mental health disorders, and can provide coping mechanisms designed to allow the individual to express themselves emotionally in a healthy way. Call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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