Everyone seems to want a big IQ, but there’s something else that’s far more important: EQ. EQ stands for Emotional Quotient, the level of emotional intelligence possessed by an individual. It’s more important than IQ because it has more effect on the quality of our lives than any other kind of skill, knowledge, or talent. In fact, without a high level of EQ, it is hard to make much of the other gifts we have been given in life. Emotional maturity gives us the ability to make good decisions, allows us to carry on when life is difficult, and helps us maintain a positive attitude in any situation.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be born with high EQ; you can develop it through careful and honest self-development and self-awareness. Here are a few tips to begin increasing your EQ:
- Become an honest watcher of your emotions. You must be honest about what you are feeling before you can begin using emotions more constructively. Begin trying to see yourself from an outer, detached perspective. See how you react with difficult people and in difficult situations. What patterns of response do you see? Are negative emotions covered up by fake gestures of positivity? What makes you truly happy? What kinds of situations or behaviors push your buttons? Sometimes, we don’t want to see some of our darker emotions because we cling to an identity of being a “good” and “nice” person. However, seeing ourselves honestly is the most important first step toward making positive changes.
- Accept yourself and your emotions. Once you can see yourself clearly, it is important not to judge what you observe about yourself. Emotions, both positive and negative, are all normal and natural, part of being human. Of course, you want to experience more positive emotions and to see yourself as a positive person. However, feeling guilty about emotions only adds more negativity and does nothing to relieve old resentments and fears. Resolve to love and accept your emotions as they are; only then will you be able to resolve them in a genuine way.
- Find a constructive mode of emotional expression. Negative emotions held inside are very destructive; they will only grow and tear you down from the inside. Whatever you are feeling, it is important to find a positive way to express that. If you don’t, you might eventually experience mental or physical problems as a result. Sometimes, this is as simple as talking to someone else about it. If that is not an option, some sort of mind-body exercise, such as yoga, or any sort of physical exercise, like walking or jogging, can help you express pent-up emotional baggage.
- Let go of your emotions. After you have expressed your emotions, you must be willing to let them go. Sometimes, we hold on to emotions because we cannot forgive or because of the power they hold over other people. Also, it is possible to be addicted to emotional patterns because of the biochemicals they release in our brains. In these cases, you must let go of the emotions deliberately. You can even try saying to yourself, for example, “I have felt enough anger about that now. I can move on.”
- Center yourself in your Dahnjon. Once you have cleared your mind of your emotions, it is important to center yourself in your body. The energetic and physical center of the body is your Dahnjon, which is about two inches below your belly button and two inches inside the lower abdomen. Keeping focused on your center will help you become more stable, able to handle the storms of life as they come. In the first step of Brain Education, I provide many exercises to help develop the Dahnjon and to develop the ability to focus on it.
- Realize you are bigger than your situations. No matter what you are facing, you will be better able to maintain equanimity if you can maintain a “God’s eye view.” By this, I mean taking a distanced perspective so that you can see the larger purpose of anything you experience. When you face trouble, and it seems as if life is being every unfair, back up and see what the long-term purpose is. Ask yourself, “What am I meant to learn here? How will this make me stronger?” Realizing that all you experience supports your growth will help you maintain a good attitude even in the worst situations.
Following these simple tips can make a huge difference in your life. Emotions affect everything we encounter—our relationships, our day-to-day habits, our on-the-job effectiveness, and our ability to believe in ourselves. As you practice habits of emotional intelligence, your brain will rewire to become a much more mature brain, and at that point, emotional maturity will seem like second nature. Then, your life will blossom as you will grow closer and closer to the highest version of yourself possible.