How to Become Emotionally Intelligent

How well do you manage your emotions? How about other people’s emotions? Can you read what they’re feeling and use this awareness to improve your relationships? If so, then you likely have a high EQ or Emotional Quotient. 

Unlike other measurements of intelligence, your EQ fluctuates throughout your life and you can drastically improve it through increased awareness. An article from Eric Barker, New Neuroscience Reveals 5 Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent, talks about this in detail.

How do we develop this side of ourselves and how do we integrate this information with your thinking process? It appears to be a matter of mastering the following five steps, according to Eric Barker:


Step 1: Recognize your feelings

Feelings are things like joy, irritation, hunger, fatigue, boredom, confusion, pain, anticipation, pride, embarrassment, tension, and so on. The list is endless and I often advise my clients to get a thesaurus or dictionary and copy down as many “feeling” words as they can find. It is important to refine your repertoire of feelings and feeling words so that you can expand your consciousness about your EQ.

It’s also important to remember that you always feel your feelings first. Because of how you are “wired” thoughts or interpretations come after feelings. It is useful to notice those feelings consciously before your conscious mind decides to ignore them or misinterpret them.


Step 2: Interpret those feelings 

The key element here is to realize that feelings are basically neutral. That is, they are neither good nor bad; they are just feedback. For example, anger may feel unpleasant to you and therefore, something to suppress. However, the feeling of anger is neither good nor bad; it is just feedback about something important for you to know. Try to view all of your feelings as feedback about the way you sense your environment. One person may be triggered to feel angry about something, while another may be triggered to laugh.

Once you get this, try to understand the root of your feelings. What made you feel like this?


Step 3: Label your feelings

Did you know that saying the word “anxiety” reduces anxiety?

Quoting from Permission to Feel, written by Marc Brackett who is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence:

“…participants who were identified as having extreme fear of spiders—arachnophobia—were placed in a room with a caged spider. Some subjects used emotion words to describe their feelings in that situation, while others used emotion-neutral words to simply state the facts. The result? Members of the first group were able to take more steps closer to the cage than the other participants. Additionally, greater use of words such as “anxiety” and “fear” during exposure to the spider was associated with reductions in those emotions.”

Acknowledging your feelings will make you more powerful.


Step 4: Express your feelings and act on them

If you feel hungry or fatigue, it’s easy to decide to eat or sleep. But decision-making is more complex when the feelings are part of a financial plan for your business or a problematic relationship. This is where EQ really helps. Individuals who have trusted their EQ throughout childhood and have refined and developed those skills into adult life are in a much better position to make successful decisions.

You’ll improve any situation, be it familial or business, if you improve your EQ. When you’re able to feel your feelings, interpret them correctly, and then act upon that information, you have an advantage over those who rely solely on intellect to make decisions.


Step 5: Regulate your feelings

Among other things, in his article Barker talks about the power of positive self-talk. Being empathic with yourself it’s like a friend reassuring you and your brain is able to move easier over difficult moments from your life.

This point is enforced in Permission to Feel:

“In one experiment, subjects were shown neutral and disturbing images or asked to recall negative moments from their own lives. By monitoring their emotional brain activity, the researchers found that the subjects’ distress decreased rapidly—within one second—when they performed self-talk in the third person compared with the first person.”


Get to know yourself. Spend time with your friends and family. Make sure you dedicate some time for self-care and your hobbies. It’s easier to analyse yourself when your mind is rested. If you need professional help, you can contact me to schedule an online appointment on my Contact page.

15 Replies to “How to Become Emotionally Intelligent”

  1. This is so good. Thank you for sharing it Kathy.
    I have been getting help for an area of my marriage. I believe he is low level Asperger’s. The counselling pinpointed an area from my childhood that I have been addressing and it’s so freeing. This article makes more sense as a result.
    Blessings to you, Inez

    1. This is complex business isn’t it? Making sense of our lives with people who struggle with empathy — well if you can do that, it is very freeing.

  2. If a person has a small isolated ‘network’, surrounded by an incredibly intricate collective of projections, false narratives rigidly perceived due to autism, and these narratives are controlled by various methods of violence. Then, like Cassandra Phenomena there is no one within that isolated network who perceives or believes anything outside the autism narrative, how does one free themselves from this ‘trap’ caused by the hierarchy of social structures due to the limited insight and extremes of insecurity with some autists. These extremes of autistic control, have a broader damned if you, damned if you don’t default affect of control also. This includes a blame dynamic being flipped on to the non Autist, via a context void kind of mimicry where stonewalling is inflicted if a straightforward honest approach is utilised. The hypersensitivity versus the violence you may imagine not such a fine line within the one person, but the extremes of the behaviours in adult autism are quite an artful control.
    What to do when there is no access to quality supports and when so often the extremes of normal, or autism narratives are visible in health care also? When the options are violent control, or more severe isolation what options does one really have?

    1. This is an important comment and must be read carefully. Like you I am very concerned about the violence that erupts when “Autists” do not have the support and education from sources other than one narrow perspective.

  3. This article is one of the most valuable I have ever read. My own emotions in my new (but now 8 yrs old) marriage were cripplingly disappointed and unrecognized by the realities of my husband’s handicap (autism). The effects of the shutting down of my soul were as real, invisible, and pervasive as his real, invisible, and pervasive autism. While now damaged myself, I do know that I have resilience. I am determined to heal myself, although, submerged in this black sea of autism, I have wondered if and where on the spectrum am I. The colors of the world have drained away.
    I am going to take Dr. Kathy’s suggestion: “Being empathic with yourself is like a friend reassuring you and your brain is able to move easier over difficult moments from your life.” I am worth the time, effort, and attention to being empathic with myself. Now, thanks to this article, I know how to be empathic with myself. The AS/NT relationship is a complex, unique, and 99.9% hopeless journey. I am determined to survive. I am determined to reach beyond my survival to a beautiful experience of thriving. I will know when I get there. Thank you, Dr. Kathy for putting this new tool in my kit. I understand it for the first time ever. “Be empathic with yourself “ is my new mantra.

    1. Have you accepted your life without love from the one you expected it from? You’ve gone past blaming yourself or blaming them? Accepted it’s not going to change?
      If your relationship provides security and stability, albeit without affection, seek out your interest, train in it and work in it.
      You won’t find jealousy or resistance from your partner as you might in a normal relationship. They aren’t really interested in you except for what you provide for their functioning.
      You will enjoy the work (forget status and financial reward) and you will be with like minded people. It’s a replacement for the love and friendship you thought you might have in your life

  4. I am 35 years married. The aspergers cover up by my spouse did not help. I read an article saying not everything is one persons fault and even 30 % of my personal response I can accept but everything was always on me. Then I discovered aspergers and recognized that my husband and sadly both my children were on the spectrum from social anxiety to ADD. It has taken me until this year to limit the impact of this personally on me, to accept this is my family, to move past constantly trying to remedy their issues as on the spectrum people and plan for my own old age and nurturing pathways moving forward. This is an unfixable situation trying to change them so I had to cry enough tears and lose my mind millions of time before I found myself surviving this injustice and still making a life for myself on this separate wavelength that not three of my family members could embrace. They are all highly focused on themselves and their obsessions and see no ill intent towards me by their lack of neuro-typical warmth and feedback. So it’s time finally at 60 to get a handle and just deal with all three of them as an entity that somehow I am connected to through the love I have for them always. However I finally accept and recognize my curl ups of warm together and deep eyes of love are only ever going to be with my dog. This is my fate. I accept I now nurture myself through everything but my immediate family. There could be worse things I suppose 🙏🏻

      1. Sharon I would love to chat. Not sure how to do that privately as I’m not very techy at all exept I do No facebook or social media. But I would like to converse with other gals in long term relationships who intend to stick with it, but adjust to survive and even thrive!

        1. If you want to talk with others in your situation, please join our confidential Meetup group. Just click Meetup on this website.

    1. I have been married for 31 years and share the same story. However, my dogs are almost 15 and I have to give more than I get from them at this point. My heart tells me I need to jump ship, but my conscience won’t let me.

  5. I just shared again how I was feeling unloved in our 23 yr. old marriage and at the end of it I said, “Now this is where you come over, give me a kiss and a hug, and tell me it’s going to be alright.” I sometimes can have a sense of humour about it thankfully because I know how hard he’s trying, but just can’t see what I need. So I spelled it out. To his credit, he came and did what I suggested, and I know he meant it as best he can, and so it felt good regardless of me having to tell him to do it. Affection, empathy, and all that come so easily to me but not to him. We’re doing a workbook/DVD called I Said This, You Heard That (Edelman) which has been helpful to us and he said at one point that to try and figure out the best way to speak to someone ‘according to THEIR needs’ would be exhausting. So I said, “Yes, it is! That’s me all of the time! And it’s also why my counsellor explained that my brain doing that for so long has turned to seaweed…all those connections, all the time.” We still have hope though! I tell him he’s stubborn but that I just have ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. 🙂

  6. It is so painful getting my point across ,but actually never getting my point across.My Aspie significant other,living together almost 9 years,is trying on both ends ,doing joint and private therapy for seversl years.Very hard.

    1. Judy, it is very hard. And even when I get my point across, and it seems like he hears it, later (could be weeks or months) I hear him say something that makes me realize he either didn’t hear it, or it didn’t stick. And we’re back only on his perspective of the situation…been married 23 years but he’s been diagnosed this fall. Doing counselling separately and together for a few years now. Only now with an AS psychologist though so I’m hoping it will help. It is exhausting! Self-care, God-care, and friend-care are all I can offer for helps as I am also floundering much of the time.

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