Ways to Increase Emotional Intelligence.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

What is she feeling?

Emotional Intelligence.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Characteristics of emotional intelligence.

The whole concept of what intelligence is has changed over the decades.  The idea of having an intelligence quotient or IQ was meant to be helpful in deciding how much someone was capable of learning.  We thought if we knew exactly how smart they were, we might be able to help them learn better and faster.  Knowing someone’s absolute IQ might also keep people from having an unrealistic expectation of people with an intellectual disability.

In practice, this concept has proved to have some problems.  There is some question about written IQ tests and exactly what it is they are measuring or not measuring.  It would appear that the thing we measure as an intelligence quotient may not be a single quality.  Someone’s intelligence may, in fact, be made up of the number of separate intelligence’s, skills, that involve different abilities. Their abilities in each of the skill areas May be quite different.

Which brings us to the idea of emotional intelligence.  I think we all have seen examples of people with a presumably high IQ and high educational levels, who lacked very much in the way of social skills.  This has given rise to the idea that there may, in fact, be a thing called emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and read emotions which are quite separate from what we measure when we test for IQ.

Part of this belief that there is an emotional intelligence includes the concept that emotional intelligence requires development.  Whether emotional intelligence is, in fact, an intelligence or more like a skill, there do appear to be some things you can do to increase your ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others.

If you’ve always felt at a disadvantage when it comes to recognizing and dealing with emotions, take a look at the list below of ways you might go about expanding your emotional skills.

Practice generosity to develop empathy.

Try giving without expecting anything in return. Generous people seem to be able to recognize what other people are feeling.  If you give with the expectation of getting something back, this is all about you.  Practicing acts of kindness can help you to understand what it would be like to be in that other person’s position.

Let it go. No anger or grudges.

Being able to let things go, reducing your anger, will improve your ability to recognize and identified emotions.  Anger is such a powerful emotion that it blocks out everything else.  When you hold onto your anger, you stay focused on yourself which prevents you developing an understanding of how others feel.  When we look closely at anger, we often find pain and sadness hiding underneath it.

Be thankful and practice gratitude.

Practice being thankful for the things you have.  Create a list of things you are grateful for.  Your feelings vocabulary should include a lot of positive emotions.  Learn to recognize when you are thankful or have things you could appreciate.

Acceptance of self and others.

Learning to accept yourself and see your positive qualities will increase your ability to see the good in others.  People who see only the bad in others reduce their ability to recognize when others have positive emotions.

Keep life in balance.

People who maintain a proper life balance can feel what they feel when they feel it.  Increasing your knowledge about your own feelings will help you to understand what others are feeling.

Be present where you are.

Learn to shift gears.  Holding onto thoughts and feelings from another situation prevents you from fully participating in the situation you are in.  The more you experience where you are, the more easily you will recognize appropriate emotions, both yours and others.

Be curious about everything.

Nurturing curiosity will result in you learning new things.  Hold on to the childlike quality to want to know about everything.  Maintaining a curious point of view opens you up to learning more.  Be especially curious about feelings and how others experienced them.

Are you OK with change?

Can you adapt?  People who resist change become fearful with the unfamiliar.  Work on your acceptance of new experiences and people.  Novel situations present the opportunity to learn about yourself about others and about the emotions these situations create.

You don’t need negative people.

Surrounding yourself with negative people drives away positive feelings.  Emotionally intelligent people learn to recognize when others around them are needlessly and excessively negative.  To become more emotionally intelligent, you need to get out of that negative space and experience some appropriate emotions.

You attract positive people.

People with high emotional intelligence can experience positive emotions and be happy.  Happy people tend to attract other positive, happy people.  Work on enlarging the number of positive feelings you can feel, and you will become a positive feelings expert.

You know and accept yourself.

Emotionally intelligent people can accept themselves and others.  Feelings are not automatically good or bad in and of themselves.  Feelings should be guides to experience.  The more you know about yourself, the more you can correctly identify what you’re feeling when you were feeling it.

You don’t do things half-hearted.

To learn more about emotions, you need to live life.  Don’t skim through your experiences, do what you do fully.

You can wait for what you want.

Develop the skill of patience.  Don’t let yourself get carried away by your wants and desires.  Cravings can come and go.  Just because something seems important or desirable in the moment does not mean that is the best thing for you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Increase your emotional intelligence.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Man with feelings

Managing feelings.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Emotional intelligence is more important than you may think.

Most people are very familiar with the idea of IQ, the kind of intelligence that written tests can measure.  What gets overlooked often is the concept of emotional intelligence, the ability to understand what other people are thinking and feeling and to react to them in a helpful appropriate way.

If you’ve ever wished that you were better at understanding other people, what they were thinking and feeling, then you may need to work on improving your emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is not something people are automatically born with.  We learn to be more emotionally intelligent by watching others around us, observing how they react emotionally and by practicing certain basic emotional intelligence skills.

If you would like to try to improve your emotional intelligence here a few simple ways that you may be able to expand and grow that essential skill.

Practice Self-Awareness, recognize you are feeling something.

Emotions, feelings anyway, has gotten a very bad reputation.  Increasingly we are discovering that feelings are not our enemies but are helpful to provide us with the information we need.  The Victorian era view that feelings were bad and to be suppressed, has been replaced by a modern vision that feelings can provide you with useful information.

That first step in making feelings your friends and becoming more emotionally intelligent is simply to recognize when you are feeling something.  Many people have spent so much time trying to avoid feeling anything that it comes as a shock that they need to pay more attention to what they’re feeling and why they are feeling that way.

Becoming emotionally literate.

It’s hard to talk about things if you don’t have words to describe them.  We humans use words and symbols to express and manipulate our thoughts.  Work on developing a larger feelings vocabulary.  If the only two feelings you recognize are good and bad, you have very few ways of feeling.  The more feeling words you recognize the more feelings you can identify.

Spend time and effort learning more feelings words for the times when you or others experience them.  Practice watching others then try to describe the feeling that they might be having at this precise moment.  One exercise we did back in graduate school was to turn the sound off on the TV and watch the people in the show while trying to identify what feelings they were having.

Use this practice of watching people and mentally identifying feelings in as many situations as possible.  With more feelings words and the ability to identify feelings when you see them you will increase your emotional intelligence.

Don’t let your emotions control you, distress tolerance and cravings.

People who are high in emotional intelligence, learn to control their emotions rather than being controlled by those emotions.  The ability to tolerate negative emotions without reacting to them is sometimes referred to as distress tolerance.

It is important to learn that just because you feel feelings you do not have to give in to those feelings.  It is possible to feel badly and have nothing bad happened.  Cravings for many things come and go, the emotionally intelligent person learns that because they feel cravings they do not have to give in to them.

Learn to control and manage your emotions.

You should develop the ability to recognize that you are feeling something and have learned a vocabulary to identify what that feeling is, then you are in a position to manage your emotions.  Emotionally intelligent people think to themselves, what is this feeling I am feeling, and then they decide what they want to do with that feeling.

Make your feelings a source of motivation.

Feelings can either be your boss or your employees.  Rather than letting your feelings control you and determine what you are going to do, work on using your feelings as a source of motivation to help you do the things you want to do.

Anger can be a feeling that provokes people to do things that they later regret.  Emotionally intelligent people can use anger as energy to spur them to take action and change the situation.

Learn empathy, what are they feeling?

Empathy is a very useful emotional skill.  One way to develop more empathy is to focus on what other people are feeling.  The more you’re able to recognize what they’re feeling and perhaps why they are feeling it, the more you will know how to approach them in a useful and helpful manner.

Practice Social Skills.

Social skills required a great deal of practice.  Learning those kinds of skills have somehow fallen out of fashion in this millennium.  Practicing social skills requires putting some effort into meeting and interacting with other people.

The increasing use of technology and the trend towards homeschooling have both been forces which encourage people to relate to others indirectly rather than developing their social skills.  No matter where you find yourself or who you are with, use these interactions as opportunities to observe other people with good social skills and to practice your own.

Follow these steps and you too may become someone with a high level of emotional intelligence.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Which border is Borderline Intellectual Functioning on?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Crossing the border.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What is Borderline Intellectual Functioning?

Borderline Intellectual Functioning (BIF) is one of several totally unrelated conditions which are officially or unofficially called borderline only because they are on the edge or junction of some other condition. BIF is in no way related to Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Intellectual Functioning is a designation for some individuals who find it hard to learn some information. It sometimes gets confused and mixed up with several types of ADHD or the older label ADD.

The definition of BIF is totally determined by the person’s IQ score. Stay with me here as I explain this. I will give you the exact numbers as we go.

There is also a lot of prejudice about anyone with a low I.Q. score even though some low I.Q. scoring people are extremely talented in areas that are not captured on an I.Q. test.

When discussing I.Q scores we need to be very careful. First, they do NOT mean what many people think they mean and since they are mathematical numbers being somehow attached to non-mathematical people we need to talk some statistic-number-stuff to explain this one. I will keep the number stuff extra simple.

The companies that make the tests try to improve the test over time but there is only so much you can do in trying to give a test that somehow is meant, to sum up, a person’s abilities. We believe that  I. Q. is made up, not of one single ability, but a whole host of talents. Verbal and mathematical talents are easy to capture with a written test, musical, artistic and athletic talents may not show up so much.

There is also evidence of something called E. Q. (Emotional intelligence.) We all know someone who is very bright in school but is no good with people and there are those individuals who are good with people or animals but can’t pass a written test.

Many, but not all I. Q. and related tests, are biased towards how many words you know. Want to score well on a lot of ability tests – learn all the words you can.

The scores are designed to measure how someone’s test score compares to other people. We still can’t find any “normal” people to compare others to so we create an imaginary “normal” person by averaging all the scores we get and saying that average (or mean or mode) is somehow the “normal” person.

I.Q. tests are set up so that the “average” score is 100. Theoretically, if you test enough people the most common score is 100. But scores vary an awful lot. So is someone with a 99 really less smart than someone who scores a 101? Not very much.

If you take this kind of test many times you will get many scores. So some days you, one single individual will be “smarter” than on others.

One day the average person scores a 95. We could call that below normal. The next day they get a 105 and are above average. So we learn to use ranges of scores, not just the number.

Turns out that the largest group of people will score between 85 and 115 on most tests. (For the math people the standard deviation here is 15.) This group will contain just under 70% of all humans.

We consider this whole range of people 85-115 more or less the same. Since scores of one person may move up or down 5 points from day-to-day we need to look at the people just outside that range.

So are people above 115 really smart, geniuses maybe? Not that often. It may be easier for someone with an I.Q of 125 to get A’s in school but we all have heard of very bright people who fail school and less smart people who study really hard and get good grades.

For most purposes, we don’t see a lot of differences in individuals till we get out to two standard deviations. People who score between 70 and 130 all fall within the “average” group. This group covers about 97.5 % of all people. Only those below 70 and above 130, start to get extra special labels.

Really high scores might get the label “genius.” But some of them still do some dumb things. It may be a lot easier for the person who has an I.Q. of 125 to do a book report and someone with a score of 90 may struggle on a math assignment or vice versa, but we think anyone in that range, with a good education, can do this stuff.

Now back to Borderline Intellectual Functioning. The definition of BIF is an I. Q. Score of 71-84. The person with this score is on the low end of what we would consider an “average” or “normal” person.

Telling someone they or their child has a low score on an I. Q. test is likely to upset them. They want us to do something.

Most of us understand when a kid is too small or skinny to be good at football. We accept that a really short kid will not do so well in basketball. Most of us get this. Except sometimes parents want their kid to be good at a sport so badly that they push this kid unmercifully to grow more and get taller. Don’t get me started on the long-term damage wanting your kid to be something they are not can do to that child.

Not very many parents want to accept that their kid has fewer math or spelling circuits in their brain. So when they get the results of the I.Q. test they want something to make their kid smarter. Lots of kids in the lower normal I.Q. score range get low grades, get discouraged and stop caring about school work. Then they get diagnosed with ADHD and given a stimulant medication. It may boost their test scores a little, for a while, but it does not make them develop a higher I.Q.

Many people with BIF do graduate from school, get jobs and have happy productive lives. The task for them is to find the other areas in life for which they have abilities and then accept that some school type things may be harder for them than for people with more skill in another area.

My belief is we need to stop telling our kids that they need to be on the football team and get straight A’s and begin to accept that everyone has different talents. What are your talents and what are you doing with them?

For more on the Mental Health treatment of Borderline intellectual functioning see the post on V codes.

There, I will climb down off my soapbox, — for now.

Did that help you understand Borderline Intellectual Functioning?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.