How To Develop Emotional Intelligence

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl

Emotional Intelligence is a hot topic. Most of the business related websites that I read these days have tons of articles on the subject. But what is Emotional Intelligence and why do we need it?

Oxford Languages, the Dictionary on Google, defines Emotional Intelligence this way, “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

Daniel Goleman, a psychologist who helped to popularize Emotional Intelligence, says there are 5 key traits associated with it:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Basically, people with high Emotional Intelligence can feel their emotions, recognize them, and manage them before responding accordingly. If you have ever let your emotions cause you to lash out or act in a way you later regret, you can see the value in having high Emotional Intelligence.

People who are high in EQ, as it is also called, are more successful professionally as well as personally because they can better manage their relationships.

So how do we raise our EQ?

Developing EQ

To develop EQ we use a process similar to the Witness, Interdict, Redirect, and Maintain (W.I.R.M) process I wrote about in an earlier article. We use and teach this process to control our thoughts. For a quick review we:

  • Witness the negative thought
  • Interdict it using a power statement
  • Redirect it using positive self-talk and imagery, and
  • Maintain the positive thought by using a mantra

When we experience negative emotions the first step is the same. We Witness the emotions but instead of trying to suppress the emotion, we recognize and acknowledge it. We feel into the emotion, accepting that it is there, and bringing our awareness to it. Once we’ve done this we begin to breathe deeply to create space between ourselves and the emotion.

At this point you can use a mantra to interdict the emotion so we can redirect it to it’s more positive counterpart. Some examples of mantras you may use are:

  • I am not my emotions
  • I am not my feelings
  • I am not my thoughts
  • I am better than this

Now we can release the emotion and transmute it. When you transmute a negative emotion, think about what it’s more positive counterpart would be. For example:

Negative EmotionPositive Emotion
JealousyLove, acceptance
AngerClarity, determination
GreedContentment, generosity
FearAlertness, curiosity
DoubtEagerness, excitement

Finally, begin to visualize yourself in the new emotional state; feel the new emotion; and use positive self-talk to solidify the transition.


Training this process is two-part. The first part of training is training the Witness process. If we are not are aware of our breath the emotion will steamroll us and we’ll respond negatively to the emotion before we know it. Practicing Box Breathing and the Witness mediations will allow us to see the emotion arising and create space we need in order to begin the next steps in the process.

You can get my Box Breathing course by entering your name and email address in the sidebar on our website, and I teach breath practices in the Big 4 of Mental Toughness webinar. Either of these will get you started with a Box Breathing practice so you can begin to train your Witness.

The second part to training the process is to sit quietly and visualize the negative emotions. Feel them! Now transmute them into their positive counterparts. Training this way with a strong Witness will help you recognize emotions when they come up in real situations and transmute them to the positive counterparts. With time, training, and practice you will blow up your EQ scores in no time.

If you have questions feel free to reach out to me directly or post them below. Be sure to take advantage of my Box Breathing course while your here and check our schedule for Big 4 of Mental Toughness webinars.

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