Much is said about emotional intelligence, but do we really know what it is? what is it for? Can you train or is it a genetic characteristic?
Historically, when we talk about intelligence we always think about the cognitive part, that is, those skills that we associate with academics, without thinking that emotions and their management are an essential part of it.
The construct "intelligence" is composed of cognitive intelligence that includes variables such as memory, fluid reasoning, verbal ability, etc. … and that is better known as an intellectual quotient and emotional intelligence, whose quotient we can also measure today.
Currently, emotional intelligence is considered one of the most important skills that the next century will require our children, and thanks to neurodidactics we also know that, for example, without emotion there is no learning or that inadequate emotional management can inhibit or block the cognitive efficiency.
This means that a child with an average IQ, but with great emotional intelligence, will have a better academic performance. And, in addition, greater chances of success in all areas than a child with a very high IQ. On the contrary, a poor or poor emotional intelligence, its performance will be affected as well as its relationships, social life, perception of happiness and satisfaction, tolerance to frustration, flexibility …
On the other hand, more and more studies relate and in many cases have already proven the relationship between poor emotional management and the appearance and / or aggravation of some diseases, including cancer, almost all skin diseases, asthma, the cardiovascular …
In psychology we speak of personality type A, B and C, being the A cardiovulnerable, the B the normal-healthy and the C, the Cancer-vulnerable. Each of them respond to a healthy way or not to manage emotions and therefore a vulnerability to develop associated pathologies.
We also know that there are differences and nuances of gender in the development of this type of intelligence: Girls have been endocultured in the learning and management of emotions, which have been historically associated with the female gender and are perceived as a symptom of weakness, while that the man has been denied entry to this universe, questioning his masculinity if he publicly expressed what he felt.
We do not know yet what percentage of the total intelligence (cognitive and emotional) is genetically determined and what is the product of environmental stimulation. The eternal dilemma in psychology "genetics versus environment". What we do know is that by much potential that comes from "series", if you do not work, you lose. The brain is an incredibly plastic organ, which needs constant training to increase (or not lose) its potential. So it does not matter if it comes standard or not. The question is that, although the child has a receptive, sensitive, empathetic, negotiating character … if these characteristics do not occur in the family context where he grows and educates, he will not develop them. In the same way, a boy or girl who brings "series" tendency to rigidity, selfishness, emotional clumsiness in general, if educated in an environment that gives more importance to emotional skills and educates by example daily and constant, will become much more skilled than the one that came with a better "standard" basis.
In the end, education, the parenting style, is the most influential variable in the success or failure of a person's life (in psychology we can never speak of determinisms, since resilience exists).
Emotions are essential, without them, we would not have survived as a species. But its proper management often depends on the difference between happiness and unhappiness, health or illness, success or failure.
There are no decisions made with reason and others with the heart, this dichotomy does not exist, because as my oldest son says, why do they put the heart in all this if it is only an organ that pumps blood? Everything is in the brain !!!
Now, although we believe that we are capable of making rational decisions, it is not true. All decisions start and go through emotion. Another thing is that we are not aware of it or that we have perfected to pathological limits the defense mechanism to rationalize everything.
We have been educated in a false dichotomy that confronted "reason (the good story) and emotion (the crazy of the story)." This categorization that places the terms in conflicting and irreconcilable places, is only a literary resource, in the best of cases. First because everything resides in connected areas of the same organ, the brain. Second, because there are no pure processes, that is, they originate, process and pass to the level of consciousness without the intervention of others. Each of our decisions has gone through the filter of previous experiences, of introjects (internalized early learning), by the filter of emotions such as fear, the needs of the ego (recognition, validation, need to be loved) and by If there were few filters, there is still one, probably the most important: the unconscious. Everything that inhabits us, but is inaccessible at the level of consciousness.
With all this circus of variables that condition our decisions, it is childish to think that reason can go free, in any case.
The question is that parents, we usually do a lot of emphasis on aspects related to academics, especially in the results rather than in the process since we are highly dependent on a culture that associates success or failure with the results and not with the process and that she is convinced that a great academic intelligence is a guarantee of success. But that paradigm begins to change when verifying that a society that produces highly trained and qualified individuals, only has as a differentiating element its level of emotional intelligence: how we relate, how we manage conflicts, our level of self-knowledge, flexibility …).
This change of paradigm also breaks with the scheme of associating emotions with weakness and therefore, putting them aside, to recover them as something that is both basic and superior in the human species and that guides our behavior.
The good news is that emotional intelligence is educable. And it is very important to understand that it is not about repressing emotions, or annulling them or distracting them: it is about channeling them to make them become their own benefit or at least adaptive. In psychology we do not usually use the term "good or bad" (judgments of value that are not our competence) but "effective or ineffective" from the point of view of adaptation and mental health. Daniel Goleman himself defends that emotional self-control is not equivalent to the repression of feelings.
This author stated that there are five skills that make up emotional intelligence:
- Emotional self-knowledge
- Emotional self-regulation
- Self motivation
- Social skills
Each and every one of them are educable and can be developed to reach the optimum levels that each child can reach.
In fact, educating these skills should be the goal and the way to raise our children. The rest, can be consulted in Google.
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