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What is Emotional Intelligence?
Neural Pathways and Emotion
The brain is made up of many complex neural pathways that allow messages to be passed to and from different parts of the brain. Each part of the brain plays a special role in controlling the systems that make up our bodies.
An important part of our brain that takes in outside information – like the smell of Mom’s cookies baking in the oven – is the limbic system, which is a small area found at the base of the brain. The limbic system sends this information to other parts of the brain for processing.
Emotional Experiences and the Brain
Humans encounter hundreds of emotional experiences every day, and the limbic system sends this information to a place at the front of the brain called the frontal cortex. The pathways that connect these two parts of the brain and control the flow of information between them are very flexible and adaptive to changing situations and environments.
How you manage your stress, your physical health and your circadian rhythm can play a major role in your brain’s ability to process emotions.
IQ versus EQ
You may have heard of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test, which measures cognitive abilities, rational thought and logic. Less commonly discussed is the Emotional Quotient (EQ) test, which measures one’s ability to handle stressful situations and practice empathy.
There are four main areas the EQ focuses on: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Unlike an IQ score or personality type – which are fixed at a very young age – one’s EQ score can change over time.
Having a high IQ does not necessarily equate to having a high EQ. Nor does having a low or average IQ mean that you are doomed to have a low EQ. Emotional Intelligence is something that can be improved throughout one’s lifetime.
Having high levels of emotional intelligence can help an individual make wiser decisions, solve problems and become better qualified in leadership roles.
Four Areas of Emotional Intelligence
- People who demonstrate self-awareness actively recognize their thoughts, behaviors and emotions.
- People who demonstrate self-management are not only aware of their thoughts, behaviors and emotions, but also take them into consideration when making decisions and use them for positive productivity.
- People who demonstrate social awareness actively see the perspective of others, empathize and recognize social cues.
- People who are successful at relationship management maintain awareness of their emotions and the emotions of others during interactions and act on social cues appropriately.
Assessing Emotional Intelligence
Being honest with yourself is the best way to assess where you are in terms of Emotional Intelligence. Recognizing what areas are lacking will help you improve and become the best version of yourself.
Taking care of your physical health will help improve your mental and emotional health, as will keeping a journal, cutting down on screen time, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and getting healthy amounts of natural sleep.
While some EQ tests do cost money, there are many free ones available. Try taking an EQ test to see where you stand!
Global Leadership Foundation: http://globalleadershipfoundation.com/geit/eitest.html
Institute for Health and Human Potential: https://www.ihhp.com/free-eq-quiz/
Psych Tests: https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3979