From Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence: Quality of Life and Relationships

From Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence

The new scientific discoveries ensure that if we try to increase self-awareness, we will be able to control negative thoughts more effectively, maintain our optimism, be persevering despite frustrations, increase the ability to be empathic, and care for others, we can hope for a future. More serene.From Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence: Quality of Life and Relationships 1

What Can We Change to Help Ourselves, Our Children, and Others Move In This Direction?

Many data testify that people who know how to control their feelings, read those of others, and treat them effectively find themselves at an advantage in all areas of life, they are happier, more effective, and able to adopt mental attitudes that fuel productivity, concentration, and thinking.

In everyday reality, no intelligence is more important than interpersonal intelligence: if it is not present, it will be easier to make the wrong decision regarding the person to marry, the work to be done, etc …

Emotional intelligence is present in each of us and has its intrinsic potential that must be developed. People learn from an early age to deal with their emotions, and parents and educators must guide children along the path of “emotional literacy”, that is, learning to recognize, express, and manage their emotions. However, even as an adult, it is never too late to learn or improve your skills in this sense, and consequently give a magical touch to the quality of your life and relationships.

Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence Explanations

Advanced studies in psychology, psychotherapy, and neuroscience show that our most important responses are emotional and not rational.

The actions that arise from the emotional mind are accompanied by a particularly strong feeling of security, deriving from a simplified and immediate way of seeing things, which can appear disconcerting to the rational mind.

According to Paul Ekman, emotions set us in motion to react to pressing facts without wasting too much time thinking about whether or how to respond.

The same applies to the facial expressions that appear on the facial muscles a few seconds after the fact that triggers the reaction because of the deviation of the blood flow and the acceleration of the heartbeat.

Feelings first, thoughts second.

Love, Stendhal wrote, is like a fever that comes and goes regardless of will. Not only love but also fear, anger, take possession of us, they seem to happen and not be chosen.

The rational mind does not decide what emotions we should have.

Feelings, on the other hand, present themselves as a fait accompli.

In 1995 Daniel Goleman, American author, psychologist, and journalist published the book “Emotional Intelligence” which he defines this intelligence as that set of fundamental skills to be able to cope well with life: self-control, enthusiasm, perseverance, and the ability to self-motivate.

He introduces the concept of self-awareness, that is, the awareness of one’s thought processes and emotions, the ability to identify them by giving them a name.

From Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence: Quality of Life and Relationships 2For Goleman, it is the ability to motivate oneself, persist in pursuing a goal despite frustrations, to control impulses and postpone gratification, to modulate one’s moods, avoiding that suffering prevents us from thinking, to be empaths and to hope.

Emotional intelligence, therefore, is based on two major skills:

  • Personal competence is given by self-awareness and self-control, as well as my motivation.
  • A social competence that is determined by the way we manage relationships with others; the basis of this competence is made up of empathy and social skills, understood as the ability to know how to artfully guide the emotions of another person and take advantage of the fact that moods influence each other.

How Can the Concept of Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence Help Us in Everyday Life?

Emotional competence helps to positively face the complexity of the world we live in. Being “emotionally intelligent” means knowing and managing our inner resources and at the same time intuiting, understanding, responding correctly to the emotions of others. Thanks to this gift we can communicate, motivate, react in the right way to frustrations, combine personal aspirations with the actual possibilities of making our dreams come true.

Feeling empathy towards others allows us to relate better to them, to understand their needs, to regulate our behaviors so as not to trample others when we are intent on satisfying our needs or pursuing our goals.

Being emotionally intelligent means maintaining a balanced relationship between the intrapersonal world and the interpersonal world, it means recognizing one’s qualities and accepting one’s limits, optimizing one’s resources to achieve an expected result.

It is easy to understand how these kinds of skills can be fundamental in favoring the achievement of objectives and self-realization, in communicating effectively with others (the boss, colleagues, partner, their parents or children, etc.) and better managing conflicts, in reacting to problematic situations or failures, in holding leadership or coordination roles but also in teamwork, etc.) in dealing with life better by reacting functionally and adaptively to stimuli that come from the surrounding environment.

Making the most of the potential of our emotional intelligence allows us to obtain very concrete effects in various areas related to the emotional sphere that have direct repercussions on the way we manage our daily life.

Daniel Goleman explains his approach to emotional intelligence by focusing on:

  • Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and differentiate one’s emotions and manifestations. It develops by paying attention to one’s inner states.

The first step is to question oneself about one’s emotions, breaking them down into many pieces, to understand their nature and origin.

We often use vague terms to define an emotion or the same term to define different emotions (for example, we could define ourselves as “nervous” both when we are anxious about something and when we feel anger or frustration). Or it happens not to understand where the emotion we are experiencing comes from, what events it is linked to it may emerge from a present event, or instead, it may have been recalled from the past.

Being self-aware means being able to understand what emotion we are feeling, to communicate it to those around us, to use it to guide our actions and our thoughts.

  • Self-control is the ability to dominate emotion without repressing it.

It is a direct consequence of self-awareness and allows you to quickly recover the psychic well-being disturbed by the onset of emotion.

The first step in developing this ability is to accept emotions and embrace them as necessary and inevitable parts of us. Strong emotions are often accompanied by automatic illogical thoughts that take over and make us lose clarity (for example: “certain things happen to me because I’m stupid”, “this bad moment will last forever”, “he left me because I’m not worth anything”, “No one loves me and will never love me”, etc.).

Learning to recognize and block these thoughts is very important to limit the disruptive effect of emotions. Being able to characterize the events that happen to us as momentary and dependent on specific causes allows us to identify and access the inner resources that will allow us to overcome the difficulty and to feel in control of ourselves and, therefore, of our emotions.

  • Empathy: is the ability to perceive the state of mind and feelings of another person, creating an emotional harmony towards him that allows you to share his inner experiences and emotions, but without being overwhelmed. It, too, is linked to self-awareness, as the profound knowledge of one’s emotions is the basis of the ability to recognize and understand emotions in others. It develops by learning to listen.

Active listening puts us in a position to understand what the other is saying to us without judging it and without interpreting it in the light of our knowledge/experiences/beliefs; to pay real attention to what others are communicating to us by striving to understand not only the content but also the reasons why they are communicating it. In inactive listening, attention is also paid to body language, because it is not communicated only with words. We develop our empathy by learning to recognize the non-verbal signals that communicate emotions and which, since they are difficult to control, can reveal much more than is explicitly expressed.

In-Depth Emotional Literacy to Emotional Intelligence

One sees well only with the heart … The essential is invisible to the eyes,  A. de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

To observe anything in-depth, it is essential to listen to sensations and emotions.

Relationships with others must go beyond appearance and superficiality.

What determines an intense bond are the actions, more important than words because they are more concrete and lasting.

Begin to cultivate deep relationships, in which there is an intense and sincere bond.

Accept yourself and express your emotions, know yourself well to understand yourself. Only in this way will you be able to love and interact with others.

It is useless to look elsewhere for what you do not resolve within yourself.


Paul Ekman, I can see it in your face, recognize emotions even when they are hidden
Daniel Goleman, Emotional intelligence
de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Get an Emotion, 58° ZecchinoD’oro

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