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What some people misunderstand about Emotional Intelligence

Updated: Jun 22

“Just develop your emotional intelligence (EQ)” , they say… “and learn to listen”.

That’s the predictable response we get when we’re struggling to interact with other people. Yet very few address how to quell the constant churn that’s going on in our bodies the rest of the time.

Emotional Intelligence isn’t just an intellectual exercise. It’s a sustainably-calm, physiological state that reflects varied and comprehensive whole-brain use.

In plain speak, although the use of intellect-savvy behavioral skills is helpful short-term, developing a sustainable state of emotional Intelligence (EQ) requires more than that.

What it really takes

Sustainable EQ development involves differentiating and refining our default emotional state and learning to use ALL areas of our brain. That way we can live, work and interact with each other in a calmer, more confident and connected manner, which would render many of our coping skills obsolete. Or it would at least decrease how frequently we’d need them.

I admit, I too used to interpret Daniel Goldman’s work to mean that developing emotional intelligence was basically a mental, intellectual exercise. As if all I needed to do was learn to ‘manage’ unruly emotional response through critical thinking, and a greater use of my intellect. But then I learned more about my brain and how it’s designed to function.

Although in moderate amounts, the use of our intellect and critical thinking is a healthy addition to our skillset, the OVERuse of intellect… well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s just a coping mechanism by another name.

Said differently, temporarily ‘managing’ emotional escalation through critical or flexible thinking is helpful in the moment. However, as a stand-alone strategy, it actually weakens brain areas that we need to create, innovate and harmoniously relate to other people.

The takeaway message: the over-use of our intellect, without developing and differentiating our emotional response, can actually become an avoidance tactic cloaked in the words ‘critical thinking’.

The term ‘spiritual bypassing’ is a popular buzzword for those who cling to spiritual ideology without actually doing the personal work to acknowledge, work through, and accept our own human imperfection. Intellectual bypassing isn’t much different.

I know this, because I used to do it.

The influence of our modern world

Many people have emotional response systems that haven’t been fully developed. In a fast-paced world that glorifies productivity and definitive outcomes, many of us grew up in an era when the importance and long-term impact of our emotional state wasn’t fully understood.

And now, modern society’s continued reliance on productivity and certainty contributes in part, to us remaining in these untrained states. As part of a larger feedback loop, some of the skills we develop to cope with an unrefined emotional system, become highly sought after and highly-paid commodities. Our coping strategies become part of a social reward cycle that actually reinforces our current nervous system state. And for many, ironically, contributes to eventual burnout.

And so because of this world we live in, temporary ‘emotional management’ skills can be very helpful for day-to-day interactions. Catching activation early, and the use of critical thinking does keep unrefined emotional activation from escalating, in the moment.

But solely relying on this strategy, although helpful short-term, doesn’t change the underlying, default emotional experience, or that ‘churn’ (or emptiness for some) that we feel inside on a regular basis. Which is why eventually, many of us suffer the consequences of health issues, burnout or relational breakdown.

Coping mechanisms — whether they’re helpful or destructive — are a short-term solution and can sometimes, eventually just…STOP WORKING.

Worthwhile work

So in order to enjoy healthy relationships while also enjoying the work I do….I had to do more than just ‘manage’ my current emotional state. I had to learn to sustainably refine and differentiate my emotional response. And I had to strengthen my brain as a complementary whole.

Said differently, I had to retrain it for the long haul, which entailed facing and working with my under-developed emotional nervous system so I could have the longer-lasting, sustainable and transferable results I have now.

The work of sustainable emotional response refinement is the equivalent of courageously getting into a corral with a wild horse, working through the discomfort of feeling like it might kill us, yet having the patience to work with it and train it, so eventually we can ride as one complementary human-equine force….

THAT…instead of simply learning tricks and techniques to ‘harness it’ , 'saddle it' or use 'spurs' to keep it in check. The latter only strengthens the power of the rider, instead of artfully amplifying the complementary strengths of both.

Manage your emotional response or refine it.

Strengthen your intellect at the expense of other brain areas, or learn to use your brain as a whole, as it was designed.

There are many options to choose from.

But if you’re getting tired of continually ‘coping’ like I was, the work of developing SUSTAINABLE, whole-brain intelligence (WBQ) may be worth your time.


The Human Infusion Project is a grassroots, not-for-profit personal development platform that draws from the combined fields of modern brain science, applied psychology and spiritual philosophy. Our mission aims to augment and supplement the work of professional practitioners in simplified, practical ways, and to give clients an affordable home program they can use in between sessions. 100% of all online class profit funds the Wellness Assistance Grant. If financial constraints limit your participation, please contact me and we'll work something out..

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