Heart, head and gut meet at
emotional intelligence

The study of emotional intelligence is still very new, a work-in-progress really, and having to move through many barriers and beliefs such as “emotions are not cognitive” or the idea that the only consciousness we can access is the one of the mind. In other words, many of us still struggle when it comes to listening to a different set of perceptions---such as a gut reaction---than the one we get from our mind’s analysis.

Have you ever wondered why most of us wait until we are cornered, without an easy escape, to change something for the better in our lives? How come we get warning signs about an upcoming danger, and we choose to bury our head in the sand? How come it takes us so long to really grasp, and thus apply, understandings from painful experiences we keep on repeating? We are so trapped in our fears and limited by our judgments about what is possible or what the unknown might be, that we wallow in the present, certain misery rather than take action which could improve our situation. Often, the problem is that our emotional intelligence has yet to be activated.

"I have tunnel vision. I can only see him on offense." Calvin Lowry

tunnel vision

When football player Calvin Lowry is out on the field, in order for him to successfully perform his job, he needs to focus and therefore tunnel vision is right in that context. Notwithstanding, using tunnel vision as a way of getting through life is way too limiting, as the possibilities of life are endless and most are unknown to us. Besides that, only can our emotional intelligence lets us know if the light at the end of tunnel is an oncoming train or an outlet to freedom.

Intuitive healing

Emotional intelligence includes our intuition. Intuition is a form of consciousness most of us have dormant inside, and often associated with women. In fact it is also known as female intuition or women’s intuition; regardless of gender, we all have an intuitive potential inside of

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."              Albert Einstein

It is my opinion that very few therapists will suggest that intuition is an integral part of emotional intelligence, because intuition cannot be quantified or classified really. How can we scientifically dissect hunches or measure our gut’s feelings? What’s more, there is no agreement on the definition of emotional intelligence, as it is still a fairly recent discovery (for the scientific types) going back to the late 1980s in the field of psychology with the likes of psychologists John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey leading the way.

The shortest academic definition I found for Emotional Intelligence (EI) is directly from John D. Mayer: “Emotional intelligence represents an ability to validly reason with emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought.” Furthermore, Mayer lists four skills to EI, and they are: accurately perceive emotions in oneself and others, use emotions to facilitate thinking, understand emotional meanings, and manage emotions.

Although it took a while for the scientific community to “discover” emotional intelligence, it has been around forever as most of us have used it before without necessarily realizing it.

Some EI researchers believe that we are born with it, while others posit that we can develop it in life. Each capacity, competency or ability we have, requires a different set of tools. We are familiar with our Intellectual intelligence called IQ, for Intellectual Quotient, which is about the mind’s ability to reason logically, our verbal skills, our intellectual capacities---in short---being “book smart”. Emotional intelligence, also called EQ, for Emotional Quotient, is the other intelligence that some call “heart smart”.

Our Emotional Quotient can be found through our energy body, by feeling our emotions and our physical senses. It is about real-life practice, and it generally does not engage us through verbal communication, but rather non-verbal, mainly sounds, feelings and images. What we feel, hear, see, touch and smell is emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is dynamic, just as life is, in that it can flow continuously. The more we focus on emotional healing, by moving frozen and rigid spaces within ourselves, the more our intuition will be reactivated each time, bringing a little more of the “forgotten” and “scattered” parts of our Selves to the finish line, which is self-acceptance.

Intuitive healing also means letting go of our attachment to big and absolute statements such as: “I will never” or “I will always” or “I have nothing to offer” and other self-limiting, and self-defeating judgments. Emotional intelligence works hand in hand with our becoming fluid in and with life, and by extension with our selves.

Uncovering one’s emotional intelligence is just like a healing process, in that you are peeling an onion inside of yourself, and dealing with each layer at the time. Some layers will bring more tears and screams than others, but let it be as it unfolds and when you least expect it, you will start to sense what another person is about to say or do. You will get wise insights about human nature and yours, that you never even imagined you could come up with. You will start to feel intelligent, and to know intuitively what to do in increasingly more situations, as your life energy will grow into a loving self awareness.

“Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve Jobs' Standford Commencement address in June 2005

The noise that Jobs is rightly warning us about is not limited to others’ opinions, but they are a big part of it. We also have distractions, habits, daily stress and many other ways that prevent us, willingly or unwillingly, from listening to our intuition, our inner voice, our emotional intelligence. In order to access our EQ potential and start getting to know who we are and what we really want out of life, we need to focus on the space, the context that will be suited for such initiative.

Personal change goes through a change of our own personal space or environment. In taking action to make a change in our environment, we also effect change on ourselves. Space and time for oneself is not a new idea; the Romans called it “otium”, which was a time to and for oneself. Without some down-time, we don’t get a chance to use other innate abilities or even muscles in us, trapped as we are in a programmed routine that lets certain parts of us become rusty, and which need to be awakened again.

Iguazu Falls

Nature is one of the best spaces for intuitive healing because it can both absorb our stress, give us energy back and keep the noise out of the way to tune into our emotional intelligence.

The next best thing is your own space, wherever it is, however small it may be, in a house or a place where you can retire and not be bothered or distracted for as long as you need.

Admittedly, it is hard to want to explore our emotions, as they have a bad reputation in general. Showing emotions, be they positive or negative, one can often be judged as being a hot-head, out of control, disturbed or simply intellectually inferior. I remember first losing it in a small class at the University of Ottawa, when a professor gave me a hard time, and somehow it woke up some of the emotional abuse I endured when I was a child. I was triggered in the same exact emotional way I used to be when my dad would come down on me. I would end up shaking uncontrollably while my grief and anger were blocking my throat, and I could not talk coherently. The teacher was shocked and distancing himself from me, while the students, who had not been taught empathy yet, had their heads down trying to hide their little smiles and renewed sense of superiority.

Years later, this time at NYU, the few times I let myself show passion in my voice and gestures, it was immediately met with those same little smiles among students and professors alike. Fortunately for me, I could hold my own intellectually; otherwise, my time in schools and universities would have been immensely more difficult. You’ll be happy to know that compassion for the self and others is one of the gifts of developing one’s emotional intelligence.

Emotion in motion

Beyond emotional abuse and/or pain that will inevitably come up in any self-healing, one of the first things we notice as we begin to listen in, to turn inward, are fleeting emotions…like shooting stars in the sky, they are quick to pass by, and easy to lose. Seemingly small, it is my experience that those fleeting emotions can lead to some of our biggest unresolved issues, and thereby trigger a real healing crisis in our life. It is my belief that we are not born into this world to simply numb ourselves in order to live; there is much more to this life if we can heal our wounds and move forward.

If your emotions are numbed through drugs, overeating, too much television watching or simply shoved down regularly by you…that suppression has the same impact as giving anesthesia to your body regularly. Circulation is the operational keyword here, and emotions are no different, in that they need to move, and circulate in our body. Otherwise we are busy dying, and freezing our emotional traumas in time and place to later on manifest as diseases.

The best the pharmaceutical and recreational drugs have been able to come up with is a state of numbness, where one does not care about anything. Actual emotional movement not only brings real healing, but also the positive emotions such as passion, joy, and laughter.

Many healing therapies will often lead us first to where we feel bad inside, to the moments our selective memory has not wanted to remember, in order for us to feel them and get to the following chapter which is to feel better. I want to underline that I am not addicted to feeling bad. I know we can develop our emotional intelligence through fun, light and entertaining experiences. I honestly want to reach the middle ground in my life, where I see the good in the bad and the bad in the good without discrimination.
It has however been my personal experience that I have learned more the hard way.

Dire straits

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.”
Steve Jobs' Standford Commencement address in June 2005

The “awful tasting medicine” that Steve Jobs refers to is so often what we need in order to awaken our emotional intelligence, and start listening to it. It is as if adversity’s challenges inspire us emotionally, trigger us and shake us out of torpor or inertia.

life death coexist, Detroit Industry mural by Diego Rivera

Life or death situations will do that to us, reminding us that they are both part of our path. These extreme incidents in our lives help us get in touch with our inner voice, and what really matters in life. If we approach them openly with a healing intent, while listening in, we will find the silver lining in the threatening cloud…and, even perhaps prevent the storm.

I have a story to share with you that has been a source of strength and wisdom for me over the years. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my mother had signed a release form at the hospital I ended up at after my first suicidal attempt, to let them put me away in a psychiatric ward. I was going on 13 years of age at the time, and needless to say I was terrified when I realized where I was going.

I realized within a day that I was surrounded by enemies and people who wished me ill including and especially the staff. I didn’t have time to pity myself much, because time was of the essence as I began to understand that the head-psychiatrist had long term plans for me. In that moment, there was no more denial in me about the fact that my parents were not to be trusted, even as they were my family. There was no more interest to self-destruct or harm myself, but only one thing on my mind and in my heart: LIVE FREELY. That is the essence of our emotional intelligence, a desire to live and be free.

My power kicked back in creatively, and I planned my escape. I had found out that my family had one mandatory visit before I was going to be “transferred” into long term housing in that same mental health complex. My EQ was computing at that point way faster than my IQ, coming up with a full insightful reading on what I could do given my possibilities, and what would threaten my parents the most.

While some writers advocate using emotional intelligence, such as reading people’s mind, in manipulative, conniving or Machiavellian ways, I do not. What I do recommend is to adapt to the situation you are dealing with in the moment, and in that moment my own family was threatening my freedom. I was reacting to what I was handed, and needed to get my freedom back, which was my birthright.

My strategy was based on bluff, rendered even more challenging as we were being watched by the staff through glass, when my family came to visit me. I used their weakness against them, their fear of a scandal in this case, and lied about having contacted a newspaper editor about my story. I was quite convincing when I told them under a fake smile that if I were to go down, I would take them down with me. Another element that helped my strategy was that a few months prior to my stay in the loony bin, I had talked to the school psychologist about getting beaten at home, and she had contacted the Children’s Aid people in Toronto. My strategy worked: my parents became scared of the possible repercussions.

The next day, I was out.

Twist of fate

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”                               Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A shift in consciousness can turn one’s life around in no time, which is another important aspect of healing. Once the lesson’s understanding has been grasped and you now hold it inside of you, your suffering stops and the situation shifts for the better in your favor.

In order to maximize one’s innate Emotional Quotient, certain things need to be avoided, mainly when trying to use our EQ when we’re exhausted or in emotional pain. My life companion and I try not to immediately address certain stressful situations and responses, if we can afford a couple of days. It gives us time to let it sit and sink in, and for our knee-jerk response to occur and to pass. We are then in a more solid position to discern what we feel is the best response: our mind delineates the outline, once it has the substance or the essence of what is appropriate and right for us, which is given to us by our EI.

Emotional intelligence is essentially about understanding on an emotional level an insight to better live your life. Usually, this knowledge is something you’ve known in your head for some time, but it has taken feeling your visceral reactions to several life experiences for your emotions to get the understanding. While your intellect can hold data, memorize, and store knowledge, your emotions hold the awareness you get from life experiences. Both IQ and EQ are meant to complement each other.

Our goal is to be able to access our inner powers in daily life simultaneously with the situations and people we meet, and then act following what is the balance in the present accompanied by a life-sustaining intention.

Suggested Readings:


Depression Medication


Here and Now

Relationship Problems

Visceral Reaction

To Emotional Healing, an intro

KA Healing Retreats, between Caponga Beach and Cascavel in Ceara, Brazil