We’d all like to think that we’re emotionally complex, because most of us like to think that we’re complex in general. We’re human beings, and being human brings a certain amount of complexity along with it.
But like many things in life, emotional complexity is more of a spectrum. We’re all emotionally complex to some extent, but some of us are more so than others.
So how can you tell whether you’re an emotionally complex person – or at least, that you’re more emotionally complex than most?
Let’s take a look and find out.
1) Everything inspires you
Emotionally complex people see inspiration everywhere, from the colors of the sky to the books that they read and the news articles that they come across.
This means that if you’re the kind of person who finds inspiration everywhere they look, it’s a good sign that you’re emotionally complex. This becomes even truer if you then take that inspiration and use it to create something new, like a song, a poem or a painting.
Many of the most emotionally complex people that I know carry a notebook around with them so that they can write things down as soon as they feel inspired. Which brings me on to my next point.
2) You keep a journal to process things
One of the challenges to being an emotionally complex person is that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of those emotions running through us.
To counter that, a lot of emotionally complex people keep a journal so that they can take notes on their emotions and try to process what they mean to them. This can be a traditional journal, like a diary, or it can be something a lot more informal.
And so at the risk of repeating myself, if you’re an emotionally complex person, I’d recommend picking up a decent notebook and carrying it around with you so that you can process your emotions on the go.
3) You’re creative
If you’re the kind of person who carries a notebook around and who turns their emotions into art, there’s a good chance that you’re also creative.
Most creative people have complex emotions, and that might be why they’re creative in the first place.
I know that in my case, I first turned to journaling and then writing because I needed an outlet for the complex emotions that I was experiencing as a teenager.
Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to be emotionally complex to be creative, or even that if you are emotionally complex, you’re automatically a creative person. The two are linked, but one doesn’t always lead to the other.
4) You love being proven wrong
Emotionally complex people love being proven wrong, even though they also hate it. But being able to experience two contradictory emotions at the same time is what makes emotionally complex people so complex in the first place.
Take science, for instance. Most of us have a perception of science as being set in stone and something either being scientifically correct or not.
The reality is very different, and scientists are constantly proving each other wrong as we advance our understanding of the world around us.
This reminds me of a story I once heard about the reaction of a scientist whose student proved that their life’s work had been incorrect. They sank down to their knees in the middle of a lecture and said, “Thank you for proving me wrong.”
5) You appreciate that there’s no such thing as perfection
Like the scientist in the last example, people who are emotionally complex are able to see that there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s a nice place to aim for, but only if you know that you’ll never get there.
Instead, those who are emotionally complex are able to embrace the inherent imperfections in their creative work, as well as in the world around us. They know that just because something isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worthwhile.
In fact, it’s often the flaws that make something beautiful.
6) You’re aware of your flaws
Building on from that last point, emotionally complex people are better able to identify their flaws.
This then leaves them with two options – they can either work on improving them or they can accept them as part of who they are.
Remember, nothing’s perfect and everything has flaws, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that. It’s just that it takes an emotionally complex person to be able to accept the flaws that they see within themselves.
7) Actions speak louder than words
This is an old saying that’s become a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. We all know that actions speak louder than words because we all live our lives as though that’s the case.
That’s why when someone commits a crime, we take them to court and we judge them. They might say that they’re sorry, but we won’t believe them unless they demonstrate it through their actions.
People with low emotional intelligence are more likely to take someone at their word and to trust what they say, even if their actions are at odds with that. People with higher levels of emotional intelligence will focus more on those actions.
8) You’re proud to be kind
Emotionally intelligent people are proud to be kind, because they have a greater appreciation of how that kindness affects other people.
There’s probably been a time when someone flashed a smile at you at the supermarket or where they held a door open for you. These are small acts of kindness, but they can make a big difference to our day.
And so if you’re a kind person and you’re proud of it, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re emotionally intelligent.
9) You think experiences are more important than things
There are two types of people in the world – those who are materialistic and who value things, and those who think that experiences are more important.
As you can probably tell from the heading here, emotionally intelligent people tend to value experiences more than things, because they know that above and beyond the basics for living, there’s not a huge amount that they actually need.
Experiences last a lifetime. Physical things age and fall apart.
10) You have no need for attention
There are people who thrive on attention, and then there are people who couldn’t care less whether they receive it or not.
Many of the most emotionally intelligent people that I’ve come across have been working behind the scenes to make things happen.
I’ve done a lot of work in the arts, and I was surprised to find that while I thought the actors would have high levels of emotional intelligence, that honor often fell to the sound and lighting guys.
These are people who have no need for attention because they’re emotionally intelligent enough to get a thrill from a job well done.
This leads me to my next point…
11) Your happiness doesn’t rely on other people
Attention comes from other people, and so it shouldn’t surprise you that emotionally intelligent people don’t need other people to make them happy.
This means that they don’t need attention from other people, but also that they don’t need other people in general. This doesn’t mean that they’re loners or that they’re antisocial, because most emotionally intelligent people still like people and enjoy being around them. It’s just that they’re also perfectly happy in their own company.
12) You hate small talk
People who are happy in their own company also tend to be the kind of people who hate small talk, and that’s certainly true with emotionally intelligent people, too.
Most of us hate small talk, at least to an extent, but some of us are more comfortable with it than others. For those who are emotionally intelligent, small talk is to be avoided at all costs. They’d much rather have a deep conversation.
So the next time you’re at a social gathering and thinking about how much you hate small talk, congratulations – you might just be more emotionally intelligent than you thought!