By Susan Dunn
"Everything is self-evident,ï¿½ said Rene Descartes, mathematician
and philosopher. Everything is self-evident if you have high emotional
intelligence and are good at reality-testing. If youï¿½re clouded
with emotions, stuck in the past, inflexible, inauthentic, or inept
at verbal and nonverbal communication, alas, everything is not self-evident.
When you develop your emotional intelligence, and the ability
to understand and manage your emotions and those of others, you
see things clearly. You can avoid the following pitfalls to accurate
perception and smart choices:
- 1. How you WISH things were.
- 2. How you think things SHOULD be.
- 3. Believing that how things have always been in the past
is the way they are now, and ever will be.
- 4. Assumptions about situations in-the-moment which seem
at the surface level to be similar to experiences and people
in the past. Assumptions always need to be checked out.
- 5. Your persona or inauthentic, unintegrated self, which
shifts according to mood, emotion, person and situation leaving
you without compass or anchor.
- 6. Your ability to delude yourself because of lack of self-knowledge.
7. Self-sabotaging because of lack of self-knowledge, self-management
and low EQ.
- 7. Fear, anger, jealousy and other strong emotions which
- 8. Hearing what you WANT to hear or NEED to hear instead
of whatï¿½s actually being said. Failing to take into account
the other person's nonverbal behavior.
- 9. Distortion from relying on other peopleï¿½s perceptions
of reality and/or "catching" their emotions.
IN SUM: We are our emotions. They influence our perception of
reality. The more you understand yourself and your own emotions,
the better you can understand their effect upon your perceptions
of reality and manage them so you can make smart choices.
Emotional Intelligence, being able to process your emotions,
means understanding which of your three brains is operating (reptilian,
limbic or neocortex), and which brain[s] you need to be in. Emotions
guide us and give us information, but sometimes we need to get to
the neo-cortex to make the decision. For instance, you may be angry
and feel like hitting someone, but your ï¿½thinking brainï¿½ will tell
you this isnï¿½t a wise course of action. By the same token, you may
love someone (limbic) while your neo-cortex keeps giving you reasons
The most important decisions generally need to be made with both
the heart and the mind. Here are some examples.
If you strongly desire to like the person youï¿½re dealing with,
or if you have a need to like them, you may miss whatï¿½s actually
going on. This is whatï¿½s happened when you hear someone repeat an
anecdote, saying, ï¿½He did [something mean] BUT HEï¿½S REALLY A NICE
PERSON.ï¿½ Itï¿½s clear to you the person mentioned is NOT ï¿½a nice person,ï¿½
because nice people donï¿½t do things like that, and you wonder how
the person telling you the anecdote can be so mislead.
Another good example is one I read on a Russian bride website.
It was giving advice to the male suitors re: such important factors
as wanting or not wanting to have children. They cautioned that
because the need of the Russian woman to come to the US might be
so strong, she would delude the man, because she had truly deluded
herself. She would say what the man wanted to hear even if she didnï¿½t
How do you guard yourself against such disillusionment? High
EQ, time, reflection, feedback, intuition, and understanding people
and their emotions.
HEARING WHAT YOU NEED OR WANT TO
This can happen when the outcome is very important to you. If
itï¿½s with a loved one, you may fear rejection or loss and therefore
your emotions interfere with what youï¿½re hearing. Someone whoï¿½s
been rejected a lot, for instance, will read things into what theyï¿½re
hearing, finding rejection in places where it doesnï¿½t exist.
Because of their emotional state, they may jump to conclusions
that arenï¿½t warranted, or over-react. For instance, if their partner
tells them ï¿½I donï¿½t like it when you talk that way to my mother
(which is a behavior which can be changed),ï¿½ they may hear, ï¿½I donï¿½t
love youï¿½ (which is a condemnation of you as a person). This sort
of distortion is why itï¿½s good to repeat back what you think youï¿½ve
heard in heated discussions where the outcome is important. If you
say, ï¿½Let me make sure I understood what you said. You said youï¿½re
angry because Iï¿½ï¿½ this gives the other person the opportunity to
clarify what they said or meant, and to correct your misperceptions.
This is vital to good communication.
Itï¿½s common with couples for each person to correct the other
saying, ï¿½But thatï¿½s not what you meantï¿½ or ï¿½Thatï¿½s not what you
said.ï¿½ Thereï¿½s never a place for this. By checking it out with the
person you give them a chance to self-correct, to correct you, and
to establish clear communication about important things.
If you arenï¿½t clear about what brain is working, i.e., reptilian,
limbic or neocortex, you can do yourself in. One reason coaching
is helpful is because it can help you clarify what youï¿½re really
after, and what fears and obstacles youï¿½re throwing in your own
path. If you want something but never seem to be able to attain
it, it could be that you fear success, or fear failure, or arenï¿½t
clear about what you want. An example would be wanting to marry
someone because you love them (limbic) but talking yourself out
of it (neocortex) because your best friend doesnï¿½t like him. Your
best friend may or may not be perceiving correctly, and is certainly
entitled to their opinion, but they arenï¿½t the person who will be
marrying this man, you are. Therefore you need to get centered in
your own feelings and perceptions.
DISTORTION FROM ï¿½CATCHINGï¿½ EMOTIONS
Emotions are contagious. We vary in our ability to protect ourselves
from ï¿½catchingï¿½ them, and in our ability to stay centered in our
An example of this happened to me the other day. I told a friend
I was planning to drive from San Antonio to Houston to pick up my
sister at the Houston airport for us to continue on to a vacation
in Alabama. Her flight would arrive at Houston International and
we both had cell phones. I planned to pick her up out front. It
seemed simple enough to me, but the person I related this to said
it was ï¿½very difficultï¿½ and not to try it.
I checked it out with a third person who travels through the
Houston airport all the time to find out what on earth the first
friend was getting at. The third person said ï¿½Just be sure and bring
at least $4 worth of quarters for the tollway, and aside from that,
there should be no problem.ï¿½
It turned out I had no trouble whatsoever. When I checked back
in with the first person, he was incredulous. If I had listened
to his perception of reality, I wouldnï¿½t have done something that
was actual quite easy to do. Iï¿½m sure you can think of many examples
in your own life.
This is another situation coaching is good for. People tend to
bring their own fears into advice-giving, and think about what they
would do and how they would feel instead of being able to see if
from your point of view. Whatever your goal, whatever you have in
mind, there is someone out there who would be afraid of it.
Whether you want to be an entrepreneur, or marry someone from
another culture, move to a Caribbean Island, or write a novel, or
bungee jump, there is someone to whom this is a frightening thing
who will do their best to discourage you because of their own feelings
Developing your Emotional Intelligence has many benefits. Give
it a try! Most people get immediate results and realize immediate
improvements in their lives.
Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, Coaching, Internet courses
and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and
professional success. Coach Certification Program - fast, affordable,
no-residency, training coaches worldwide. Email for free ezine.
She may be contacted at
Susandunn.cc or By Email