“What really matters for success, character, happiness and life long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” — Daniel Goleman
Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book, “Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” (1995) explored the powerful fact that our ability to identify, understand, and regulate our emotions is fundamental to our happiness and ability to connect with others. As a child who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I missed the whole EQ bus. My family didn’t talk about emotions or practice how to regulate them in a healthy way.
So when my kids were babies, I realized I had a lot to learn to help my family (and myself) develop Emotional Intelligence. After reading Goleman’s book and others, we started talking more openly about our emotions. And we still do.
Last night, I asked this question at dinner: “Which Emotion is Most Difficult for You to Express at Home and Why?”
The responses were honest, insightful and a good reminder that EQ is a life long journey.
One responded, “When I’m feeling annoyed. When I’m annoyed, I just need some space. But I realize I need to let you guys know when I’m feeling this way.”
Another said, “When I’m sad. I don’t want everyone to try to make me feel better, so sometimes I don’t share when I’m sad.”
I shared that I have a hard time showing when I’m sad too because I don’t want to burden the family. This is an old habit of mine that has proven difficult to change, but as my family’s EQ role model, I’ll keep working on it.
This meaningful dinner conversation left all of us feeling more connected and understood. It also reminded us of the importance of trying to name our uncomfortable emotions and what we might need in those moments (space, to be heard, a hug, etc).
The phrase “Name to Tame” is used in child development and counseling circles. As soon as we pause and put words to what emotions we’re feeling, we’re on the path to regulating those emotions.
Please note that this family conversation requires an atmosphere that is emotionally safe. So if your family has a habit of making fun or being critical of each other, it’s best to work on creating a safe atmosphere first.
If you are interested in learning more about Emotional Intelligence, here are two great books:
Daniel Goleman, “Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”
John Gottman, “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child”
If you have this dinner conversation with your family, I would love to hear how it goes!