Having spent the best part of two decades in formal education I can confidently say I learnt a lot. Whether that is the reasons World War Two happened or that 2 + 2 = 4, I was taught a whole breadth of worthwhile information, some a little more useful than other bits. I learnt how to read and write, add and subtract. It certainly was a valuable exercise. There may be something in this mass education.

However…

During all my time in primary school, secondary school or University I can’t remember ever learning about myself. I was taught nothing about why I feel things, what to do if I do and how to deal with my emotions.

Well other than a few psychology lessons in my A-Levels, but that was mainly prison experiments and salivating dogs. As much as those provided insights into human behaviour they still did not provide any answers into my experience as a human.

Formal education, as it is, has huge benefits in terms of knowledge building and the development of skills. However, it has no real grasp or dedicated programme of understanding the human experience and providing the tools for people to understand it.

Although, I am lead to believe this is changing in some area’s of education at the moment.

Could this be a result of cultural immaturity? Does the society we live in place very little value on understanding one’s emotions?

You may look at me and say why is this even important? Understanding your experience? What are you even talking about? Well, let me expand a little.

Emotional Intelligence

As human beings, we have a whole range of emotions that we experience. These feelings are key pointers to understanding ourselves and the world around us. They point us towards insights that we have yet to find the words to articulate. It is by understanding these feelings that we can truly harness the power of who we are and grow into the person we were born to be.

Ok let’s start with a quick definition of what emotional intelligence is:

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills:

  1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
  1. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

Definition provided by Psychology Today

So, emotional intelligence is a key skill in understanding your emotions and those of others. It allows you to assess the situation and understand why you are feeling certain things the next time you get angry or sad.

It really is that WHY that emotional intelligence allows you to see clearer. These insights open you up to a new set of choices.

You may say now that emotional intelligence is all well and good but if I want to get things done, I just get them done. This has some element of truth, however, being able to understand yours and others emotions provides you with a host of benefits and life skills you get from nowhere else.

Why It Is So Important

Better physical health – The ability to understanding our emotions allows us to manage our stress much more effectively. Over a sustained period, this leads to far more beneficial health outcomes for you.

Deeper relationships – By not being afraid to explore yours and others emotions it will help you forge stronger bonds with other people. You will be able to have deeper more meaningful conversations with your friends and family.

Success through self-control – Having the skills to regulate your emotions will allow you to avoid procrastinating or worrying about work you may have to do. It will allow you to stay focused on things you need to get done and work towards your goals in a much more committed way.

Personal growth – When you can explore your emotions and look at the underlying drivers to why you are acting the way you are, you can take conscious and intentional steps to let your ‘baggage’ go. We all have things from the past that influence our behaviour and choices, emotional intelligence gives us the tools to make changes that will lessen these effects.

Managing conflicts – By understanding others emotions we can help deal with conflict in a much more helpful and productive way. We can empathise with others whilst also managing our own emotions in the process, producing better outcomes for all.

Personal happiness – There are times when we can get carried away with emotions. Whether it be anger, despair or fear, emotional intelligence helps us recognise the impermanence of these states. This allows us to stay in a more stable and happy condition more of the time.

These benefits show you just a slice of what it means to have a high level of emotional intelligence. However, if you have ever suffered a never-ending spiral of despair or regular fits of rage at seemingly insignificant things, you may crave another way of seeing the world.

Emotional intelligence gives you a new perspective on yourself, your emotions and other people. It allows you to navigate through life much more like water flowing through a river rather than wading through thick treacle.

The structures of society currently place little value in our emotional intelligence. However, it really is the key to a good life.