Are you Emotionally Sophisticated?

Veera is a published Author (‘Endured’ and ‘#LoveBitesLifeHacks’) and Columnist; a passionate Educator and Counsellor; Poet and Philosopher… but most of all, a lover of all things literary. 

Let’s not confuse issues here. Many people, I would safely venture, practically everyone, is normally on this whirlwind, merry-go-round of emotions. As humans, we are wired to feel, act, respond and live emotionally. We grow up as confused balls of pent-up emotional energy, trying our best to suppress, or at best, cope with negative emotions, while holding on to those that make us feel good!

Making decisions based on emotions is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. But there are amongst us emotionally evolved people who perhaps have a more nuanced understanding of how emotions work. Emotionally sophisticated people have a healthier outlook to life and coping with it – a habit they’ve cultivated over time. Emotionally rounded individuals emit a positive vibe. Observe those close to you who radiate emotional security to learn their secrets.

Emotionally mature people are naturally good at talking about their problems and emotions. They speak about emotions and their feelings in plain language. The lot of us are generally in the habit of intellectualizing our emotions when we talk about them. “I am feeling a bit off today,” is how we would intellectualize. Saying simply, “I am sad or I am stressed today” enhances a healthier relationship with your emotions. We need to talk plainly and describe exactly what we feel. When you are hurt, don’t say, “I guess it’s alright,” unless you mean it. Instead say, “Ouch, that hurts! Damn! I’m not ok with this.” We need to be committed to finding emotional clarity. The reason emotional tolerance is the most important aspect of mastering modern-day challenges, is really the key to understanding why we are presently struggling so much.

Psychologists call the skill of labelling our own feelings – emotional clarity. We bury our feelings behind symptoms like boredom, laziness and apathy. Emotionally mature people refuse to settle for anything less than knowing what they feel. They are committed to wading through the thick of discomfort until they emerge with real answers they can process.

Emotionally mature folk often default to humility. They work out their emotions, figuring out what’s actually going on in their minds, humbly assessing the issue at hand. They are not stubborn and they do not insist on being right when they could be wrong. Their sense of pragmatism avoids them taking criticism personally. They are not judgemental – they rarely assume they know what another’s intentions are. They have a sense of realism and are always willing to talk, whether it’s with another person or simply with themselves. They exert much empathy in working through their own feelings and that of others. They believe that most problems arise due to lack of open and honest communication. Sitting across the table for a talk may not always guarantee a happy ending, but emotionally mature people are always willing to give it a try. They understand the difference between taking responsibility and assigning blame. They choose one or the other even in the face of little control and predictability. 

People, events, circumstances… the world is full of elements beyond our control. Being emotionally mature is influencing what you can, accepting what you can’t and learning the difference between. To do so requires seeing the bigger picture. They are willing to try one more time or just a little bit harder. They practice emotional tolerance to find emotional clarity.

Emotionally intelligent people have learnt to keep their expectations in check. While expectations could be a good thing, fostering growth and achievement emotionally mature people realise soon enough that high expectations are a way to soothe our own anxieties and insecurities. Our expectations, many times, are neither met nor considered, resulting in a great deal of stress, frustration and resentment. Expectations need to be kept in check regularly, making sure they are not too far outside of reality. Emotionally mature people tame their expectations without losing the correct balance between want and hope.

Emotionally sophisticated individuals are compassionate with all kinds of suffering; most of all their own. They have learnt to be compassionate with themselves. They approach their suffering and pain, their mistakes and falls without judgements in a gentle, rational manner to heal themselves and others. Ironically, while we are pretty compassionate with the suffering of others, we are rarely empathetic to our own pain. We often are harsh and hard on ourselves, giving little leeway to our mistakes. This probably stems from a stereotypical cultural insistence that the only way to really succeed in life is to be tough on oneself. Self-compassion is not to say you should indulge yourself till your soft or spoiled. It simply means to replace self-criticism with self-compassion.

Emotionally intelligent people are naturally curious about their own minds and the inner world. They ponder, reflect, and theorize about its workings constantly. They practice self-talk and mindful thinking. They are in the habit of reassessing and clarifying their values. Self-realisation is a process and they have somehow developed it by being in tune with the world within to live and understand the world outside. In the words of Daniel Goleman, “If you are tuned out of your own emotions, you will be poor at reading them in other people.”

When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotionally balanced individuals proclaim that EQ is just as important as IQ. They use it to understand and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate and manage emotions and their lives in positive ways. To be emotionally intelligent means to understand the emotions of yourself and others and to channelize and handle them properly. More importantly, to be emotionally sophisticated you need to learn when to display emotions and when to delay them. 

Veera Shroff Sanjana
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