In 1983, Howard Gardner, a psychologist, and Harvard professor introduced the 8 types of intelligence in his book, “Frames of Mind.” And each type of intelligence indicates a remarkable ability to excel in a particular set of challenges.
For instance, someone with musical intelligence, compared to the majority of people, has an unusual sensitivity to musical rhythms, patterns, thone, and melody. And someone with linguistic intelligence has an unusual affinity for words and the meaning behind them.
Emotional intelligence falls under what Gardner classified as Intrapersonal Intelligence, which refers to the ability to interpret your own feelings and anxieties — or, as the modern philosopher, Alain de Botton put it,
“Emotional intelligence is specifically the education in how to interpret ourselves, where our emotions arise from, and how it affects us.”
If you don’t have any dream of being a pop star or composer, you probably don’t need musical intelligence. And this is the same for many other types of intelligence. No one will hold you accountable if you’re not the most mathematically inclined person in the room.
But someone low on emotional intelligence cannot go unnoticed. He and those around him will suffer the consequences.
If you’re high on emotional intelligence, you have a noticeable difference in how you conduct yourself. And whether you are aware of it or not, people see these signs in you.
1. You understand that you’re not your thoughts
Most people suffer unnecessary mental and emotional turmoil because they cannot separate their thoughts from who they are. Once they think about it, they feel it, and they react. There’s no space.
This is why the neurologist, psychiatrist, and famously known holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said,
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”.
From how Frankl’s life turned out after going through such spirit-breaking conditions, you can tell that this advice is great if you want a life of balance and clarity.
Emotionally intelligent people understand that thoughts are just thoughts. Just because I think I can’t pull off a presentation doesn’t mean I can’t. My worry could just be a sign that I care about doing it right.
Thoughts are just thoughts. You can choose to engage with them, negotiate, understand them, or accept them. They’re not means to an end, they’re often mere suggestions that you usually don’t have control over, and emotionally intelligent people understand this.
2. You think with your head and your heart
You’re able to reflect on your emotions — and choices — no matter how intense they are, and evaluate the consequences of your decisions. You think about how what you do will affect your future and those around you.
The defining trait of someone who has emotional intelligence is that they have a hold of their emotions. When in an argument, for instance, they can quickly tune it down and listen, especially when they realize they might be wrong, instead of becoming hot-headed and ego sensitive.
When financially wealthy people engage in unnecessary power battles without minding those who will be harmed in the process, that’s low emotional intelligence. It’s why a rich person suddenly loses all their money because of a sudden urge for huge unrealistic gains.
When you don’t know how to use your head and your heart when thinking, your emotions alone will control you. And any decision taken purely based on emotion will be ill-conceived.
Interesting: 6 Signs of an Emotionally Immature Adult
According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, the co-author of the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, people who have high emotional intelligence tend to be curious about other people. And this is because their good relationship with their own emotions makes them naturally empathetic towards others.
This makes sense if you think about it.
If you’re used to not judging yourself for feeling sad or anxious, you’re more likely to extend the same courtesy to someone else when they’re in a bad state — or good — emotionally.
4. You don’t judge your emotions
According to the adult psychologist, Amy Vigliotti, “Awareness of emotions moves us forward while suppression gets us stuck.”
This explains why people who are low in emotional intelligence will often get stuck in a circle of stress, anxiety, and even depression. Instead of labeling their emotions and understanding them, they feel bad about it.
For instance, someone low in emotional intelligence is more likely to feel bad about worrying. And this self-judgment will often spiral out of control. Soon that person will be angry about being worried.
Our tendency to judge our emotions is why we are obsessed with being happy. But judging the meaningfulness of your life based on the state of your emotions isn’t a fair game for you. How can you define your life on something you can’t control?
Emotionally intelligent people don’t think they’re miserable simply because of fleeting emotion. They don’t hold on to it or suppress it. They’re simply aware of the emotion.
“The willingness to really feel your emotions” psychologist Nick Wignall said, “is a hallmark of emotional intelligence.”
5. You know (and accept) your strength and weaknesses
Have you met people who don’t have any shame in accepting that they’re not good at certain things? They may even joke about it.
Emotionally intelligent people understand their strengths and admit their weaknesses. This high level of self-awareness also makes them know that there are certain kinds of people they don’t blend with, and they don’t mind staying away from those kinds of people for the sake of their peace of mind.
People who are low in emotional intelligence do not have this level of self-awareness. They are the ones you can simply make angry by simply pushing a button. Want to make them ecstatic? Simply compliment them.
We take courses in school to sharpen our linguistic and mathematical intelligence, but unless you specifically studied psychology, you probably have never came across anything regarding “emotional education”.
In reality, learning to be an emotionally intelligent person is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
It’s because of a lack of emotional intelligence that you’ll sometimes see people who are rich but know nothing about self-control. Their wealth, instead of bringing them a better life, make them more prone to anxiety, depression, loneliness, and different forms of addiction.
Hence, learning to be more emotionally intelligent is the foundation for a balanced life.
Related: 7 Signs You’re Emotionally Mature