Emotional intelligence is the ability of being in contact with one’s emotion without censoring them.
Ciò comporta la capacità di ascoltare, accettare e gestire il disagio delle emozioni difficili permettendoci di sentire le nostre punte sia di fatica e di dolore che di gioia e di fiducia.

In order to do this we would have to overthrow our defence mechanism, or the emotional numbness that protects us from being hurt. Such mechanisms, once triggered, operate symmetrically: we learn to cut off (i.e., not to feel) painful emotions, such as fear, frustration, anger, along with more pleasant ones, such as joy, enthusiasm, “elan vital”.
In their origins, such mechanisms have a positive function as they protect us from excessively painful emotions that we would not be able to stand or, again, from those emotions that we learnt to avoid or minimize. In the long run, however, this numbness might become chronic and therefore be dysfunctional for the following two reasons:

  • First of all, as mentioned before, it doesn’t prevent us from feeling negative emotions only, it actually cuts off positive feelings too, thus making our whole life dull and less meaningful;
  • secondly, the exclusion of such intense emotional states prevents us from getting in touch with those qualities that only emerge in high arousal states, irrespectively whether we are in a difficult (e.g., in despair or angry) or pleasant (e.g., enthusiastic or joyful) moment.

Obviously, the point is not to constantly be in complete contact with our emotions but rather to be able to choose to do so whenever we wish to or whenever it is needed: numbness (being detached or cut-off) becomes an useful instrument rather than an automatic, involuntary reaction.

Being capable to consciously draw on our emotions makes us more authentic, more present, more effective, and more efficient in our relations and communications. Actually, the more in contact we are with our emotions, the more powerful we become in our communications and the more empathic in understating others and their feelings.

Here’s a little exercise for you: choose between the following “basic emotions” the one you feel less comfortable with, the one you are inclined to avoid or you do not allow yourself to express in your daily life…

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Contempt
  • Disgust

Now that you picked one, try to monitor yourself for a period of time (one month might be a good period of time) and take note of all the times you express this emotion.
Consider your thoughts and behaviors and try to let spontaneity lead you, this will help you train an “underused” emotion that you might learn to get in touch with and express better…

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