Emotional intelligence and the modern superhero
Developing your emotional intelligence can give you superhero status and the skills to save the world. Let me explain.
Everywhere you turn these days, there seems to be an immanent threat or disaster that potentially endangers us all. Media often perpetuates fear of ourselves, of each other and of the state of the world. It is easy to go numb because that feels better than feeling perpetually helpless.
While some threats are nonsense and deserved to be tuned out so you can go about your day in a better mood, other threats are real and need to be taken seriously. Climate change is real. Systemic oppression by gender, ethnicity, age, sexual preference and faith is real. Corporate greed is real. Overpopulation and an unbalanced distribution of resources is a huge global concern. And as much as we may all love a good superhero fantasy story, these jobs are too big for any one person to fix. And some of these issues are indeed time sensitive. As a species, we need to decide how to handle these issues.
But because we have no orientation from our ancestors on how to manage these specific problems, these issues push beyond our current cultural capacity for solutions and can therefore be categorized as intercultural problems.
The good news is: there are solutions to all of these problems. Experts around the world in specific fields have answers and options for even the toughest dilemmas. But before anything can be fixed, we need to work together to choose and apply the best solutions together, beyond national borders, beyond corporate interests, across cultures and communities. We may not yet know how to fix things, but we need to know that we can.
What Keeps Us Apart
What keeps people from working together, top experts agree, is a lack of emotional intelligence. Empathy is a skill that has been recommended by the European Council for education since 2006 because it is what humans need to be better equipped for life’s turbulent times. Most of us have a lot of bad emotional habits which keep us from being the superheroes we need to be. Think about it; telling someone they are ’emotional’ implies that what they are saying isn’t reasonable and therefore, not to be taken seriously. For us to come together, this will have to change.
Some of us have been taught to compete instead of having empathy, so it keeps us from recognizing the pain and discomfort of others’. This negatively affects our ability to negotiate fairly.It is difficult for some of us to go beyond our comfort zones because it doesn’t feel like what we are used to. Some of us feel burdened by guilt or shame, this keeps us from connecting with others. Some of us have traditions we adhere to or deal with shaming from our communities, this keeps us from fostering each others’ potential.
Time for a Superhero Upgrade
A first step towards that superhero status is to activate your reflexion skills on this matter by knowing the difference between ‘reacting’ and ‘responding’. When you react, your emotions are in the driver’s seat, at best, our emotions can be the individual compasses that point us towards what makes us happy. Emotions may know where your happy place is, but don’t necessarily know how to get you there. So, it is best to find the right time and space for your emotions to be free, then you won’t suffer the consequences of an ’emotional reaction’. Don’t ignore your emotions, they have their own intellect, it is amazing what they are trying to tell you.
When you respond, your reason is in the driver’s seat of making decisions. You are more in tune with the goals of what you want to get out of an interaction, perhaps even get you to your happy place. Ironically, it may be your emotions that help you set certain goals, but it is your reason which will scout your options, check your resources and negotiate accordingly.
If each person who is ready to tackle the problems of the world in epic superhero style learns to develop their emotional intelligence, then we will have the means to negotiate solutions for the world’s problems. It takes super human strength and courage to confront our feelings, most of us have not had sufficient cultural orientation on how to deal with our emotions. If we regularly reserve time and space to practices that acknowledge how we are really feeling, then we can become better negotiators for when it really matters. This work is possible. Spoken like a true superhero.