Emotions play a continuous, important role throughout our lives. This includes how we make decisions and understand the world, not just in romantic or heated situations. This book is about balancing the emotional and rational minds.
The Good of Emotions #
Emotions help our memories. Important memories have intense emotion attached so we're more likely to remember them and therefore more (or less) likely to repeat what happened. For example, bad memories have emotional pain, so we're less likely to repeat them.
Emotions help with understanding. Being able to empathize with others' emotions, which helps predict their actions or understand their point of view. This happens fast and unconsciously, so you can quickly step into someone's shoes. Using empathy this way helps with persuasion or tough interactions since you can plan a good approach ahead of time. It's also great for teaching, management, and dealing with conflict.
Emotions motivate us. Emotions give us feelings like panic or joy, which push us to take action like run away or continue an activity. They also help us act quickly since they often outpace the rational brain in sudden situations.
The Bad of Emotions #
Emotions cloud judgment. Too much emotion leads to too many thoughts, which makes it hard to prioritize or interpret rationally.
Emotions cause hasty actions. Emotions bypass the thinking brain, making us act rashly when a calmer, more measured approach is needed.
Emotions can be outdated. We may have emotional reactions based on experience which no longer matters. For example, living with a past fear of being picked on when you're now strong enough to defend yourself.
Balancing Emotions #
Emotional Intelligence is what lets you manage emotions properly. This way we can take advantage of emotions' strong points while avoiding the bad ones. The core of this relationship is recognizing emotions so the thinking brain can manage them properly.
- Recognize your emotions. Be able to accurately name what you currently feel.
- Know what caused your emotions. See what events triggered a specific reaction.
- Assess and manage your response. Knowing the emotion lets you rationally assess the reaction and if your judgment was wrong. You can catch any bad logic behind your feelings before you act on them.
- Refocus on your goals. Managing your emotions helps you point the energy where you want. If you recognize a boring response, you can look at why it's there and find something to get your interest going again.
Finding this balance with emotional intelligence helps one toward success, even if they have typically impressive IQs. It helps with social relationships, impulse control, managing stress, and even good health.
Emotional Intelligence Tricks #
Talking yourself through the above four-step process with an internal dialogue is helpful. As you improve, the same process will play out faster and even without the need for inner dialogue.
You can also be more empathetic by mirroring body language since it'll evoke similar feelings in yourself.
Another good relationship tip is, when someone wants to discuss or complain about a problem, it may be better to rely more on empathy than offering a solution. Listening intently and showing understanding can help more since it shows caring and validation.
Know you need a cool-down period when your feeling brain is getting too strong. Let them cool until your rational brain can step in and help sort things out.
Giving criticism can often invoke a negative emotional reaction too. Basing it off a specific incident, offering a solution, and mentioning what was done well all help to avoid making someone feel devalued or confused.