How Emotional Intelligence (EI) can Benefit You

Written by Jimmie Burroughs

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.[1]

In his doctoral dissertation, 1985, entitled “A study of emotion,” Wayne Payne introduced the term emotional intelligence. According to Payne, emotional intelligence (EI) can be developed through self-integration; [integrating mind, will, and emotions into one harmoniously functioning unit] relating to fear; pain and desire; problem solving, etc.

From the Christian perspective, God is an emotional God. He made His human creation in His own image. Therefore, He included emotion as the third part of the tri-fold makeup of the human soul, mind and will being the other two. Emotions play an important role in human existence. However, when not understood or managed properly, emotions can cause un-needed pain and suffering.

Emotional intelligence includes the ability to manage emotions effectively. Emotional management is regulating personal emotions and responding appropriately to your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Imagine your emotions being a group of drives. You are the master of the house and the drives are your servants. They are there to serve you not to hurt you or control you. Emotionally intelligent people manage their emotions and use them to serve them while those with less emotional intelligence are controlled by their emotions and become subservient to them.

Emotions consist of many drives. Some of the more common ones include anger, hunger, hate, love, and fear. Since we cannot get rid of emotional drives, nor would it be in our best interest, it benefits us to learn to manage them. For example, the anger drive can cause pain. It can be hard on the heart and the body in general. It can damage relationships. Therefore, it is in the best interest to learn how best to deal with it. A better method of dealing with anger than controlling it is learning to manage it. With a little forethought, situations where anger is likely to occur can be foreseen. This gives the chance to plan to deal with it in advance. Plans can be made as how to respond to another person’s anger and how to restrain your own. In cases where there is no fore warning, a course of action must be planned as how anger will be dealt with in general. Since anger is a God given drive, how is it helpful? Anger is a motivator to take appropriate action. When people do hurtful things toward others, anger becomes a motivator to correct and restrain future such actions. Sometimes it means bringing the perpetrator to court where they become subject to fines or imprisonment.

What is appropriate action in general? Let’s say heart disease runs in my family. Therefore, it is a rational to fear that it may strike me. What appropriate action can I take? Plan a heart friendly diet, a practical exercise program, and have regular check ups. Remember, rational fear is our friend who came to warn us of an impending danger. Now it is our responsibility to take the appropriate action. Remember also, worry exacerbates fear and is never a solution. Dismissing worry is not an easy matter, but it can be learned and developed. Worry is like trying to hold on to a ski rope after you have fallen. Just let go or you will be in for a rough ride, bouncing around with water stinging your face and difficulty breathing. Let it go and enjoy the freedom.

Worry is a form of fear. Worry is the fear that something bad is going to happen, which does not 95% of the time; what a waste of an otherwise helpful emotion. Fear is God given drive intended to help, not hurt. There are two basic kinds of fear: Irrational fear and rational fear. An example of rational fear is the fear of the consequences if you step in front of a speeding automobile. In that sense, fear is helpful. On the other hand, an irrational fear, for example, is an excessive fear of storms, which is not helpful. The chances of you being injured or killed in a storm are few. However, a rational fear of storms is good, since it encourages you to be prepared. Most of our fears fall under the heading of irrational fears. Fear of itself cannot distinguish between the rational and irrational. That is the mind’s responsibility. Managing our fears is allowing the mind to distinguish between the rational and the irrational and taking the appropriate action concerning the rational ones while discarding the irrational ones.

As the definition states, Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Managing emotions is generally believed to involve three specific skills:

  • Emotional discernment: the ability to discern your own emotions as well those of others.
  • Emotional deployment: the ability to allow your emotions to perform their intended tasks of solving problems, rather than complicating them.
  • Emotional disarmament: the ability to disarm, manage, and regulate your own emotions, and the ability to disarm and calm the emotions of others.

Studies show how emotional intelligence can benefit you.  People with high EI enjoy greater mental health, demonstrate greater job performance, and are better leaders. However, the greatest benefit is the peace and calm you experience once you learn the effective use of emotional intelligence.

[1] Coleman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199534067.

Jimmie-on-HOG-240x300About the author: Jimmie Burroughs is a motivational speaker and author who has been involved in teaching Christian Personal Development for more than 30 years. He is a dedicated believer in Jesus Christ and considers helping others his calling in life. His websites contains over 600 articles on preparing yourself for success through personal development and the things that accompany personal development.

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