By Mazwi Tyson Zondi

In a world that encourages shallowness and consumerism (which aren’t as far apart as one might think) we need to be able to develop emotional intelligence. We need to realize that it is just as important as mental (and other forms) of intelligence, if not more so.

People have all these misconceptions about emotional intelligence: they believe that it is dismissing every negative emotion and choosing only to feel positive- whereas doing this is near impossible to do.

Either that, or they believe it is dismissing emotion altogether, and living in a constant neutral state. This is even more dangerous, as suppressed feelings always find a way to come to the forefront. And not always in the best way.

Emotional intelligence, really, is about knowing our emotions, and listening to whatever said emotions call us to do.

Emotions aren’t enemies to be silenced. They never were. They are only signals to show us how we interpret a given situation, and it is up to us to learn how to manage those signals so that they can lead us to fulfilling, happy lives.

Emotional intelligence has not developed as we have. When we weren’t as highly actualized beings, we knew that fear meant to run, and pain meant to be present, and so on. Our emotions evolved, but our minds haven’t caught up yet.

We don’t know what to do with complex feelings – how to interpret them, how to respond. So we don’t know how to ensure our survival in 2016. We may not be running from lions, but now we’re at risk of running from ourselves.

In gaining emotional intelligence, you learn that the manner in which you are in tune with your emotions = how you are able to manage your life.

Communication skills seem to be in abundance for those with high levels of emotional intelligence. This makes sense, seeing as how communication is, by far, the most common trait in successful relationships (romantic, or otherwise).

Speaking of relationships, knowing yourself emotionally changes your perspective on how to get to a successful long-term relationship. You realize that a relationship that is worth giving your time, attention and emotional availability to isn’t just found. It is built. It is cultivated. It is made.

And the most important relationship of them all?

The relationship you have with yourself.

You see the importance of knowing oneself; to have a sense of self-awareness. And so you go on walks, meditate, read, journal, and take personality-type tests in order to better understand yourself. To be able to live a life where anger, sadness and fear aren’t to be avoided at all costs, but to be felt and used for our benefit.

All in all, emotional intelligence is probably the closest thing humanity has to life intelligence.

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