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  • Writer's pictureSusan Stubbings

Are you the master of your emotions or do they master you?

Updated: Jan 8

Emotional intelligence (EI)

Do you constantly get swept up in your emotions, are you full of anxiety or have a sense of being off kilter a lot of  the time?  Do you feel uncomfortable when a work colleague or friend cries in front of you and you don’t know how to handle the situation? Do other people tell you, you’re too sensitive, hard faced, out of control or insecure?

What they are most often referring to but perhaps don’t know it is Emotional Intelligence”.

So, what do we mean when we talk about emotional intelligence or emotional quotient EI or EQ for short? 

EI is identified as the ability to perceive, understand, manage, use and handle our emotions and those of others.

Emotional intelligence is quite different to Intelligence quotient that thing they measure at school through the relentless exams that start with SATs in primary school.  What pressure society imposes on our children, this remains throughout our life with presentations, interviews and the leaning towards getting this or that degree to show your intelligent or worth!

Intelligence however has been researched and found to only account for about 20% of our success in life, according to psychologist Daniel Coleman; the other 80% of our intelligence is made up of other factors mainly emotional intelligence.

Reflecting to my school days I never even heard of emotions, nor was emotional intelligence modelled or taught by the significant others in my life. Teachers were far too busy asserting their authority, in control or out of control throwing black board rubbers at us or yelling or belittling or or or.  Not a sign of emotional intelligence, well I do remember one teacher in primary school who could have emotional intelligence, but that’s just one out of my whole school years.

It is thought our Intelligent is fixed, what we are given at birth is what we will retain throughout our life, but Emotional Intelligence can be taught, learnt and improved upon throughout our life if we choose. Of course counselling isn't about teaching you but supporting you to understand your emotions, how they work for you and to raise your awareness about what makes you tick if that's what you choose within our sessions. As we explore your feelings, thoughts, behaviours your emotional intelligence will improve as you better understand yourself and others. Of course there is an element of psychoeductaion if you choose a bit like this or any blog post hopefully aiding your understandings and enhancing your well-being.

What are emotions?

Emotions are based on survival therefore they are strong impulses that drive us to take immediate actions in order to survive. Based on vital needs, are neurologically designed to spontaneously act without thinking too much, they are automatic and not chosen because they operate to keep us alive.  For example, running out of the way of an oncoming vehicle or a ferocious dog.

As a child

Our emotions are not fine-tuned and so whenever we feel in danger our emotions activate and we don’t know how to handle them. We’ve all seen the child in the supermarket having a meltdown, most put this down to bad behaviour, however the child is more than likely overwhelmed, over stimulated and scared. Therefore their survival mechanisms have kicked in hence the meltdown. It is believed we have all our emotional patterns in place by the time we are 7 or 8 years old.

If we never look at these patterns again as we grow into adulthood, they become outdated, out of tune with what’s happening, in the here and now, we don’t express them productively or safely.  We’ve all shouted at the dog or our own children when something stressful happened at work because we’re not assertive enough to confront the person upsetting us or the boss who has put too much work on our plate. 

You've heard the saying I'm in two minds! Coleman believes we have a thinking mind and a feeling mind. Our feeling mind reacts before our thinking mind and is associative as in we remember how someone or a situation made us feel, it can categorise, is absolutist and very individual based on our individual life experiences.

Over time our emotions become habitual, it is believed our feeling mind is more fully formed when we are born, it’s not fixed and our neocortex retains the ability to learn, grow, adjust and change throughout our life.  What this means in short is our emotional responses are formed before our thinking brain is switched on to the same situation. 


So sudden wonder we have that instant feeling of dread in anxiety, panic or shock because our feeling mind has spontaneously activated way before we’ve formed a thought.

How do we go about gaining emotional intelligence? It sounds easy right!

First we need to understand the nucks and crannies of EI

Emotional Intelligence is:

  • Knowing your emotions

  • Understanding your emotions

  • Managing your emotions

  • Motivating ourselves

  • Using empathy to recognise emotions in others

  • Handling relationships.

Still sounds easy! annnnnd it is easy really yet complex at the same time.

Simple because there are several emotions such as grief, sadness, fear or joy which are basic emotions, they are universally known, we all recognise them, in ourselves and others through body language and facial expressions.

The complexity come from the fact our emotions can be inhibited, enmeshed, suppressed, repressed, habituated, conditioned, disinhibited and more, they can feel scary, big, small, hidden, numb out etc.

All this can lead us to misunderstand ourselves and others as we react in our own patterns of emotions without really hearing what the other person is saying or meaning or or

Emotional intelligence are skills you can become aware of throughout your counselling, use to support yourself, put to good use to enhance your living, your well-being and your relationships. With yourself and others and gain understanding of yourself and be peaceful and content in your daily life.


If your ready to start understanding what makes you tick, find deeper meaning, purpose, begin living the life you choose rather than chosen for you from outdated emotional patterns.  With a creative, curious, compassionate, experienced and knowledgeable counsellor with lived experience of post traumatic growth

Contact me though my site form here.


I offer a free half hour telephone or video call so you can meet me before our first session. If you prefer contact me through  or telephone, text, WhatsApp message on 07867938630 and lets connect and realise the possibilities and your potential. 

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