The world of emotions so large and busy that it can be hard to manage and wade your way through to find meaning. Many people have different views on what Emotional Intelligence is. However, there is information and science behind how your brain & your emotions work that can help you understand how EI is an essential skill for being successful and happy in life.

The Five Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we see the world. This includes how we perceive and express ourselves. It also includes our process for developing and maintain social relationships. The ability we have to cope with challenges and our use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way comes from our personal understanding of EI.

Different emotional factors morph into the five central pillars of Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-Perception
  • Self-Expression
  • Interpersonal
  • Decision Making
  • Stress Management

All of which combine to create your EI perception. This tells you more about your personal Emotional Intelligence level. These five pillars help show where your skills, knowledge, and where your understanding of EQ is currently. There are several ways to determine your EI level but understanding the Six Unversal Emotions is a great first step. 

The Six Universal Emotions

Emotions are not messy, they are just info, and they have universal meaning. Every human can understand emotions without the need for use of native languages. These universal emotions are:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Surprise
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Disgust 

When you are happy, you are gaining something you value while when you are angry, you’re blocked from that happiness  which causes a feeling of being upset. Fear is driven from the old reptilian brain that was primarily concerned with the “fight or flight” mindset of our ancestors.

Disgust can come from unwritten rules that we all have on what is acceptable behavior and non-accepted behaviors. Have you ever had a friend who did not allow shoes to be on in their house but you didn’t realize that was something that had to be done? Their reaction of looking at you like you were born in a barn is due to an unwritten rule they have on wearing shoes inside their house.

Sadness is when you lose something of value and surprise comes when something just happens to you without any preparation available to help you cope. These are simple definitions of emotions that everyone understands.

The Science of Emotions

The science of emotions show how controlling your EQ skills can be difficult. We have evolved from a mindset of “Fight or Flight”. The old brain was concerned about what it was we were interacting with and if it was safe or dangerous. A stimulus travels through the Old-Brain to determine what it is and if its safe. It then travels to the Mid-Brain where we determine how we feel about the stimuli. Once we understand our feelings, the stimulus moves to the New-Brain and causes us to ask ourselves, “What do I think and do about this?”. 

The New Brain

The New-Brain is where our EQ skills can come into play, but we need to actively interrupt the old roadmaps of our brains to use those skills. Humans are emotional first and rational second which is why we have to interrupt our emotional mindset to include rationality. It is this process of accepting information from the outside world that keeps us alive, but it can also interfere with our ability to fully access our EQ skills unless you realize what’s happening and adjust to bring your skills out!

In a report that analyzed the emotional intelligence of 515 senior executives, Egon Zehnder International discovered that those who were primarily strong in EI were more likely to succeed than those who were strongest in either relevant previous experience or IQ.

EQ skills can help take you to another level not only professionally but personally as well. The ideas behind your feelings and the meanings your emotions convey are universal so use the language of emotions appropriately to your advantage by recognizing and understanding what they are and what can cause them.