How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence:
And experience greater success in your personal and professional relationships
By Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne
Published by the E-CENT Institute. 2021
Copyright details: Copyright © Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne, 2021
By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling
As a therapist with almost twenty-five years’ experience of dealing with all kinds of emotional difficulties, I have found that the core problem brought to me by most of my clients is this:
– They lack the ‘emotional intelligence’ to be able to control their feelings in situations of high pressure, frustration or potential loss or failure.
– And this shows up most often has interpersonal conflict, at home and/or in work.
Many of them are very bright, often with what could be guessed to be ‘very high IQ’. That is to say, they are often very logical, practical, cunning and street-smart. They know how to reason about objects and events, in the business world, or the world of ‘things’, systems and patterns. But they lack what is called ‘emotional intelligence’.
What is this ‘emotional intelligence’ factor that they lack?
It has a number of features:
– 1. The capacity to read and regulate their own emotions, and to keep them within reasonable bounds. Not too high (as in excessive anger or anxiety), and not too low (as in excessive sadness/ depression/grief; or inappropriate guilt or shame).
– 2. The capacity to read the emotional states of other people with whom they have to interact.
– 3. The capacity to communicate about their own feelings, or the feelings of the people with whom they have to relate. This includes the capacity to empathize with others.
The downside of being low on emotional intelligence is this: You will tend to feel unhappy in your encounters with other people, at home and in work. You may tend to get into conflicts and arguments; or to passively withdraw when you should be standing up for yourself. You may find it hard to love, or to let others love you. And you may have one or more relatively brief marriages or cohabiting relationships, which end badly.
In this book, I will mostly focus upon item 1 above – the capacity to regulate your own emotions. But I will also include some guidelines on the other two features (reading others, and communicating about emotions), mainly in Part 4 and the appendices, and a little in the conclusion.
Extract from the Introduction
The first and most important aspect of emotional intelligence is self-understanding. To “know thyself” is an important goal; and to examine the kind of life you are leading – and the kind of like you really want – that it just as important.
Let me begin, here in this Introduction, to clarify some of the insights I’ve had over the years about the nature of a human individual, and how we are ‘wired up’.
Firstly, if you want to understand yourself fully, it would help if you knew how stressed your mother was when you were in her womb, because that is where the basic wiring of your brain began to be laid down.
But more importantly than that, it would help if you knew how securely attached your mother had been to her own mother when she was a baby, because she is most likely to have passed on to you the same kind of (secure or insecure) attachment style that she got from her mother.
The first five or six years of your life would have laid down some fundamentals of your personality, including the creation (in your own mind) of a life script, encouraged by your parents, siblings, neighbours, teachers, other relatives, etc. And that life script tells you (from subconscious levels of mind) what is going to happen to someone like you, as you progress through your life. (Don’t worry. You can rewrite this script, and I will show you how in Appendix A of this book).
When you were born, you were essentially a little body, with a set of basic emotions (or ‘affects’), mostly a capacity to perceive and evaluate pleasure and pain; ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sensations. Those innate affects or simple emotions are then socialized into a set of ‘higher cognitive emotions’ by your daily encounters with your mother (or main carer), you father (in most cases), your other relatives, peers (as you begin to move around and begin to go to kindergarten or pre-school, etc.) From the beginning you are an emotional being; and your emotions are designed (by nature) to help you to survive. You need fear/anxiety to encourage you to minimize risk-taking; anger to protect yourself from abuse by others; sadness and grief (depression) to attract support from others when you are in need to their help; and so on. Gradually you are socialized into feeling appropriate guilt or shame when you do wrong, or break your parents’ or teachers’ moral rules.
Regardless of the temperament you are born with, the skilfulness of your mother will tend to shape your temperament, character and personality. So, as Woody Allen suggests, “You should choose your parents wisely!”
But since you cannot actually choose your parents, you might need to go into therapy and experience a form of re-parenting. Or you could work through a book like this one, to rewire yourself for better emotional responses to your life’s experiences.
If you mother was ‘good enough’ – she does not have to be perfect – then you will tend to have a more or less secure attachment style; as opposed to an ‘anxious-ambivalent’ or ‘avoidant’ attachment style.
If you tend to keep your distance in relationships, then you may have an avoidant attachment style; and if you tend to cling for dear life to your partner, then you most likely have an anxious-ambivalent attachment style. Insecure attachment styles tend to cause problems in adult, romantic relationships, marriages and so on; but they can be fixed (to some extent) by working with a skilful attachment therapist; or by finding a secure marital mate who helps you to learn to trust and to become increasingly secure with them.
It is also important to recognize that you are still primarily a body – a physical organism in a physical world of threats and dangers, as well as pleasures and rewards. Therefore, you need to know how to manage your physical self as much as your ‘mental self’. The main areas that this book will help you with are the core lifestyle factors of: sleep; diet/nutrition; physical activity and exercise; and physical/mental relaxation. (See Chapters 4, 5 and 6, below).
We humans are primarily social animals, and so it is important to be connected intimately to some fellow humans; and chief among those connections for an adult human is some kind of life-mate; wife/husband; girl/boy-friend; etc. No person is an island. Intimacy is a state of non-separation. It is important to know how to get close to somebody without surrendering your autonomy. That is the skill of intimacy-with-boundaries. (See Chapter 8).
One of the first challenges of our first relationship…”
End of extract… More later…
Jim Byrne and Renata Taylor-Byrne
Hebden Bridge, February 2021