A lot is written about emotional intelligence, I got totally lost in it. However, I decided not to bore you with the history of it nor the different opinions about the validity to call it intelligence or how it can (not) be measured scientifically.
What you and I are really interested in, after all, is how it applies to bipolar disorder. Right?
Photo credit: Child Therapy Toys
What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)
In short, emotional intelligence is the emotional strength we have, especially in the face of adversity. In other words, it tells us something about how good we are in overcoming the difficulties we face in life. Thus, we can also speak of emotional competencies, which might be more accurate than to rate it as a form of intelligence.
We, as bipolars (as well as others with a chronic illness), have the advantage to train ourselves in emotional intelligence as we face more difficulties in life than the average “normal” (or healthy) person. Aren’t you glad? Yeah, me neither.
Daniel Goleman, Ph. D.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s model identifies 4 competencies or skills:
*the ability to read one’s emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
*involves controlling one’s emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness
*the ability to sense, understand, and react to others’ emotions while comprehending social networks.
- Relationship management
*the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.
The ability to read one’s emotions ~ truth be told, I have often a difficult time to figure out what exactly I am feeling. Counseling is helping us with learning to recognize our emotions for what they are. Also, not in the least important for bipolars, it helps us to know what caused that particular emotion. Without that knowledge it is hard to respond in an upbuilding manner towards myself and others.
As is well-known, adapting to change is more difficult for bipolars. Some of us even suffer from the seemingly necessary evil of Daylight Savings Time (can someone shoot the person who invented this? Oh, wait, he is probably already dead).
Even though we have often learned to squash our emotions and impulses as it can bring us a lot of grief, again through therapy we learn to control and use our emotions to better ourselves and possibly others.
#3 Social awareness
Ha! To comprehend and sense other people’s emotions is like a second nature, at least for me. At last something we are good at :)! Our reactions, however, leave something to be desired at times… That is exactly why many of us enter counseling, to learn to deal with the emotional influence of others and ourselves.
#4 Relationship management
I think that by our bipolar nature and the need to overcome many obstacles, many of us inspire and influence others unknowingly. Managing conflict? That seems to me a hard one to acquire, for anyone. But again, in therapy (and if you are not – I highly recommend it, unless you already acquired all those skills of course) we learn to work that one out as well.
Why is EI important?
The level of EI distinguishes the star performer from the average performer. The fact that we have to work so much harder on acquiring those emotional skills fortunately doesn’t mean we can’t achieve them. And become very capable in the process! Especially since we are so much more aware of the need to obtain those skills in order to be succesful in our daily lives.
Does that mean that we are at an advantage after all?