Put simply, we far too often find ourselves stuck fretting over the small stuff. Here’s the thing: as human beings, we are not taught how to be emotionally intelligent. Think about it: we learn how to read and write in school, we study different kinds of sciences, learn about our history and that of the world and, of course, learn mathematics. We are not, however, taught to recognize our own emotions.
After more than a decade of being involved in self-development, first as a student and later as a coach, I do not believe for a second that having the ability to differentiate between feelings, labeling them appropriately and using this emotional information to guide our thinking and behavior to be superfluous. It is mind-boggling that as a society we have still not concluded that knowing oneself is something fundamental to living better and adapting to our ever-changing world.
As a child, I used to be very rigid with rules, both the ones that I inherited from the society around me and the ones that I created for myself. I thought: “Stay in your lane; don’t stand out.”
As I grew older, and wiser, I realized that as a gay man, my very own existence would make me stand out by default. I learned how to judge myself – and others – less and have more compassion for where we are – the different levels of awareness, especially self-awareness.
To me, developing emotional intelligence is like showering: I do it daily. Having this habit has helped me in every aspect of my life. I now understand better the thoughts that I have, the little voice inside my head, how I attract or repel people into my life and, most importantly, the source of my low self-esteem. That was a huge shadow hanging over me for longer than I can remember.
The way I used to think made it difficult for me to find something that I cherished or appreciated within myself. In other words, my negativity overshadowed anything that I could consider a quality. I had trained my mind to focus on what was wrong or how I came up short. My actions backed that up: to the outside world I was this young man filled with potential for greatness, whereas for me, the man staring in the mirror was a loser.
It is so rewarding to be able to discern between what people say and do. Trust me, once you start noticing the discrepancy between one and the other, you will understand that behavior always tells you who individuals really are, even if their words might suggest otherwise.
Nowadays, I am very focused on what comes out of my mouth and how my actions are in alignment or not with that. When they go together, great! When they do not, it means that it would be better for me to stop, reassess the situation and then act accordingly.
As Socrates once said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Eric Faria is an Emotional Intelligence Coach. He has participated in self-development trainings since 2005, using these tools in his professional coaching. He graduated from an International Coach Federation program in January 2014. Eric lives in Connecticut, and in addition to working with private clients, he gives motivational talks. For more information, or to contact him, send an email to .