People with high emotional intelligence often share these 7 habits

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Do you want to know if you have high emotional intelligence? Or would you like to learn how to cultivate and develop this within yourself?

Maybe you’d like to discover if a friend or loved one has high emotional intelligence. 

Whatever is driving your curiosity, this article will give you valuable insights.

1) They are curious and study people

If you are reading this article, it may be the first sign that you do have high emotional intelligence. Why? Because you are curious! 

Intelligent people usually seek to know more about the people and the world around them. They are driven by an intense inquisitiveness and a quest for knowledge.

One of the many ways to learn about people is through literature. Books allow us to explore the inner workings of people’s minds, their thoughts, motivations and their fears and desires.

Consider this: 18th century author Jane Austen – (think Pride and Prejudice) – is still loved today for her humorous and deeply insightful portrayals of the upper echelons of British society. She possessed an amazing ability for witty social commentary and understanding the thoughts and motivations of others.

But, because she came from a poor family, she spent just 3 years away from home whilst receiving education. For most of her short life she lived in a village, where she only got to meet a relatively small number of people.

So how was she able to create such incisive and wonderful characters? 

Well, we know that she was a voracious reader and had access to a large amount of books. She began writing as a child. She was also a passionate letter writer. 

Austen’s curiosity and study of people led to her becoming a much loved and astute author. Her books are still being made into films, over 200 years later. 

As Eudora Welty explained, Austen’s novels remain relevant because they relate “not to the outside world but to the interior, to what goes on perpetually in the mind and heart.”

Other ways to study humankind are through psychology, anthropology and traveling. You can also do it in everyday life, simply by paying close attention to people.

2) They don’t jump to conclusions

When something happens, good or bad, it’s easy to quickly form an (often incorrect) interpretation.

I’ll never forget a lesson I learned from a mindfulness class.

We were all asked to picture a street that we knew well. Then to imagine a person we knew well, walking on the other side of the street. As they came close we tried to catch their eye but they kept on walking without acknowledging us.

We were then asked to examine our thoughts and feelings. In my case, I had pictured my first long-term boyfriend. The only interpretation I could fathom was that he was upset with me and was ignoring me.

We then came back to the group. Imagine my surprise to learn that everybody had formed a totally different story, despite being given the same prompts from the teacher.

It was at that point I realized the importance of not jumping to conclusions, and the error of assuming that our interpretations are facts, when they are not.

3) They do a somatic experience practice

What is somatic experiencing? It’s a way to connect with, and understand, your bodily felt emotions.

To be really good at understanding yourself and others, it’s essential that you learn to connect with your body. Thanks to psychologists like Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk we now know that stress and trauma are stored in the body. We know that emotions such as anxiety and grief, (and also happiness and joy!), are felt and stored there too.

We also know that the vagus nerve connects to what some call a ‘second brain’ located in the gut, via the gut-brain axis.

In the words of van der Kolk: “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.”

So what does this look like? A somatic experiencing practice is something that connects the mind and body. This can be yoga, tai chi, ecstatic dance, or therapy with a somatic therapist using techniques such as Focusing or EMDR.

4) They recognize emotions as friends and messengers

For some people, suppressing emotions feels like the only way they can deal with things. This can be an effective strategy for a while, but eventually the emotions overflow.

The result?

Anxiety, depression, sadness and overwhelm.

People with high emotional intelligence make space for emotions using non-judgemental curiosity, awareness and somatic practices.

They understand that emotions are friends and that it is not helpful to suppress the messenger just because you don’t like the message.

Instead they see emotions as a signal to change something. Negative emotions can serve as a catalyst to encourage us to take action. 

Think of emotions like fiery sparks within us, burning with intensity. If we ignore or suppress them, they build up, eventually building pressure until they erupt like a volcano, unleashing a torrent of painful feelings.

On the other hand, individuals with high emotional intelligence are like skilled firefighters. They carefully observe the flames, feeling their heat and then learning to decipher their language and gently putting out the fires.

They harness the intensity and heat of these emotions as motivation to address underlying issues, grow personally, and ultimately find a path towards inner harmony.

5) They understand the true meaning of anger

Since we’re talking about emotions, let’s explore anger. 

Anger is neither inherently good or bad, and it can actually be protective at times. (For instance if someone is trying to hurt us, we can get angry and that is a message to let us know we need to do something).

However, anger often emerges when we feel that someone has ‘attacked our territory’. In modern day living, the territory is usually symbolic.

Have you ever challenged a deep seated belief in someone? Only to see them respond in anger? I know I have!  

Many years ago I learned about Anarchism as an alternative way of (self) governing society. Though many people question our ability to practically institute this into everyday life, it’s a philosophy worth considering. 

When I casually mentioned it to my friend’s mom, I was amazed to see her react in anger at the idea. Upon consideration, I realized that I had ‘attacked’ a deep seated belief of hers – that our current form of democracy is the only way we can survive as a group.

When we feel anger, here’s the questions we should ask: 

  • Is this really one of the territories that I need to defend? 
  • Or is it something that I should let go of? 
  • Is the anger actually a messenger of something buried underneath such as sadness, hurt or fear?

By exploring these questions, ideally through connecting with the body, we can use anger as a powerful tool that helps, rather than harms.

6) They feel deep compassion for others

If you are curious and understand yourself deeply, then the chances are that you will have a high degree of empathy. This is because you understand the complex facets of human existence and have compassion for all beings.

When you understand just how much the ‘small’ things can affect you, it’s almost impossible to be blind to the suffering of others.

People with high emotional intelligence are well aware of this, and experience a deep desire to help others in their life’s journey. 

They understand that a simple act of kindness or heartfelt gesture can transform someone’s day. They know that through offering support, understanding, and kindness, they can contribute to the collective well-being of humanity.

7) They practice self-compassion

Empathy should not be limited to others. 

People with a deep sensitivity for others also practice self-compassion, understanding the importance of nurturing their own well-being. 

They practice self-care, set boundaries, and are kind and forgiving to themselves, and then extend that to the world around them.

One of my favorite pieces of advice is to ‘be your own best friend’. When a close companion is going through a tough time, I bet you offer them compassion and understanding, reminding them to acknowledge what they have been through. 

Oftentimes it can be hard to do this for ourselves, so that’s why it can be helpful to imagine that you are advising a friend or loved one, and then apply that advice to yourself!

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

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