I’ll confess: even though I know the value of EI (proven in research and my own experience), sometimes the subject seems too hard to teach. Most of us have been taught to avoid and repress our emotions. The simple question: What are you feeling right now?” is often met with blank stares or vague generalities: “I’m good.”
Since our emotions are often confusing or embarrassing, our reluctance to explore them makes sense. And even if we can figure out what we’re feeling, what difference does it make?
One reason to explore our emotions is that they are the only way to glimpse our “internal wiring.” Each of us “run” on a “program” of unconscious thoughts, beliefs, fears, biases, and desires. Our emotions are a window into these deeper parts of ourselves. Even if our emotions don’t reflect “reality” they do reflect our own perceptions. Learning to understand our inner world is the first step toward understanding how we “tick.” Then we can learn when to trust or distrust our instincts. We can develop our own unique intuition, a moment by moment GPS system that can guide us in the hundreds of decisions we make every day.
Ignoring our emotions is like refusing to read the directions for a powerful new gadget. Without this technical information, we’ll probably overlook some really cool device applications. Likewise, without a deeper knowledge of our own emotional patterns, we can misread others, make poor choices, and get stuck in some miserable situations.
It is also impossible to develop empathy (the WD40 of relationships) without emotional awareness. How can I understand your fear or anger if I’m unaware of my own?
Examining our emotions isn't easy but, like any skill, we will improve with practice. The rewards for this self-knowledge are great.