Whether seeking employment, attending academic studies or a variety of other everyday tasks, one’s ability to perform whatever tasks that may be required of them has often been measured by their intellectual abilities or IQ. Surprisingly though, we have often seen that the seemingly smartest person in the class doesn’t always get the highest marks or the person with the largest collection of degrees on their wall at the office is also the same person who is repeatedly passed over for promotions. Why is this, since after all “knowledge is power?” Or is IQ the only measure to knowledge? Or, is there more that could possibly explain the apparent discrepancies that we often see in our lives and in the previous examples?
Recent studies give evidence to what could be considered the missing part to what is known as IQ; that is EQ or Emotional Quotient. EQ could be described as “qualities like, understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living or, to redefine what it means to be smart” To understand our own feelings is probably one of the best ways of understanding ourselves. Self-awareness, be that positive or negative will often define who we are to ourselves and to those in whom we come in contact with, for this, in essence, is what we believe about ourselves. This concept, although relatively new to social circles is not new at all. In the bible, it states “For as he thinks in his heart so is he.” Proverbs 23:7, NKJV A modern translation could be, you are what you believe you are. Closely related to this is empathy for others. If a person is in touch with their own feelings or emotions, only then can they truly be able to touch and be touched by others. With this comes a connection that cannot be expressed through mere numerical figures. When we come into contact with others through empathy or being able to identify with their feelings or emotions, then trust is formed allowing for the free exchange of thoughts and ideas, thus giving way to a far deeper level of communication than possible without this empathetic connection.
Probably the most important level of EQ is the ability to regulate our own emotions. “Once an emotional response comes into awareness, or physiologically is processed, the chances of handling it appropriately improve. Scientists refer to this as meta-mood, or the ability to pull back and recognize the particular emotion.” If someone finds themselves in a stressful situation, often their thought process is hampered due to this stress. If that same person is able to recognize that the source of their stress is related to a particular fear, then the possibility exists where you may be able to deal appropriately with it thus enabling you to approach the stressor with a greater sense of ease. Once any given emotion, be that positive or negative is recognized and appropriately dealt with then cognitive consonance can be achieved. [Nancy Gibbs, The EQ Factor,” Time Magazine Oct 2 1995: Volume 146, No 14]
It could be easy to infer that EQ and IQ are actually in competition with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they are in complete harmony with each other and true intelligence could not be attained if one portion of this equation is missing. IQ could be described as a numerical measurement of one’s inborn intellectual capacities. Someone with a higher IQ is thought to be smarter and has a quicker grasp for learning. Whereas EQ could be described as the ability to tap into the already ˇexisting intellectual qualities through emotional self-awareness and expression. One who has a strong EQ is thought to be emotionally aware and is confident in their abilities thus enabling them to think freely. Although, as discussed earlier, EQ and IQ are not in competition with each other. Some would even go as far as to say EQ is more important because a true intellectual approach cannot be fully achieved in life without solid emotional strength, therefore giving the individual a holistic balance. This enables full intellectual and emotional expression to be achieved.
Although a deeper understanding of EQ within society could prove to be extremely beneficial, there is still a need to approach such a change with caution. Yale psychologist Peter Salovey says, “I love the idea that we want to teach people a richer understanding of their emotional life, to help them achieve their goals.“ But, he adds, “what I would oppose is training conformity to social expectations.” If we were to teach children the aspects of EQ, the danger is the possibility of teaching a right or expected emotional response to any given situation. Children and adults alike must be encouraged to explore and develop their own emotions. For if emotional responses are taught instead of explored, then is the individual’s response real? [Nancy Gibbs, The EQ Factor,” Time Magazine Oct 2 1995: Volume 146, No 14]
For years now through my own experiences, I have known about EQ, I just didn’t have a name that matched my knowledge. As a young child, I was told that I had a learning disability thus explaining my slow development in school at the time. This diagnosis was made during a very formative and traumatic time in my young life as I faced the death of my grandparents, multiple cases of violence in my home, the divorce of my parents, the death of my mother and my subsequent adoption into my current family. I have heard it been said by psychologists that if a child faces multiple emotional traumas such as I had, that same child will be temporarily, mentally impaired. This, I believe is what happened to me resulting in a possible mistaken diagnosis of a learning disability so many years ago. Armed with such knowledge, I don’t believe for a second that I have a learning disability. Unfortunately, this diagnosis is what I believed about myself and thus was what I allowed to define me most my life. As I was going to school, I was faced with various academic challenges. Unfortunately, I mistook this challenge as an inability to learn due to my learning disability. Through this process my emotions and self-worth plummeted, therefore influencing my intellectual outlook. In order for this process of emotional/intellectual destruction to be halted, a change of equal proportions-had and continues to take place. I had to have a proper self-worth, value and significance restored within myself. This emotional healing that continues to take place in my life, is the result of intense psychological therapy, but primarily because of my deep faith in Jesus Christ. In Him, I have found forgiveness and unconditional love, which in turn has provided me with deep value. “ I have great worth apart from my performance because Christ gave His life for me, and therefore, imparted great value to me. I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted and complete in Christ.“ [Robert S. McGee, The Search For Significance (Houston, Texas: Rapha Publishing 1990) pg. 61]
This phrase has become very valuable to me because it is full of life-giving truth, unlike the possible inaccurate diagnosis of a learning disability that was placed upon me. As I have adopted such truth as my own, I have changed, and one area, in particular, is my perceived intellectual capabilities. At the risk of sounding proud, I now know that I possess great intelligence. Yes, the process of learning is difficult, for in many ways I am learning all over again, but now I am armed with the truth that anything is more than possible. Truth is a powerful weapon for change. As my Lord has said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 NKJV