circles with types of emotions: social, intellectual, self-aware, relationships

Building Emotional Intelligence: Part 1

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood pieces of the human experience is human emotion.

Yet, one of my favorite facets within my clinical education has been coming to learn about emotion and the role that emotions can play within fully understanding what it means to be a person.

Too often as individuals we may experience an emotion such as anger, sadness, jealously, or a variety of any other uncomfortable emotion and judge it to be a “bad” emotion.

Consequently, we then judge thinking that something is wrong with us and that we should not be feeling these bad emotions.

Naturally, we seek any means of relief and we may try to push away these emotions or escape by means of a substance or any other easy form of self-medication.

Perhaps this concept and idea is familiar to many of you and you seek to navigate through the challenges and stressors of every day life. Yet, I want to illustrate an important concept to aid you in your ability to successfully manage your emotions. 

It is this: there is no such thing as a good or bad emotion.

Emotions are normal, expected experiences that inevitably occur because your human and, as such, capable of building long-lasting relationships with others.

While we may experience the discomfort or uncomfortable of anger, sadness, embarrassment, or any variation of these uncomfortable experience is simply is an indication that you are figuring out how to connect and form meaningful and lasting relationships with yourself, others, and quite possibly your Father in Heaven.

A second piece of consideration is that emotions and emotional experiences are meant to be managed, not controlled.

How then do we healthily identify, manage, and cope with our emotions? I will present a few ideas/coping skills and hopefully you can take some of these ideas and run with them.

Most of these concepts are found within dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT), but I will also touch on a tool found in pages 33 and 34 of Maurice Harker’s book “I’m NOT okay, You’re NOT okay, But THAT’S OKAY!”

The first step toward better understanding emotion and how to effectively manage our emotional experiences is to identify the particular emotion that you are feeling.

A useful tool is identifying emotions and a particular emotional experience that you may have previously been experiencing throughout the week is an emotion or feelings wheel.

If you look at an emotion wheel you will recognize that there are layers of emotions. 

In order to effectively utilize an emotion wheel you need to start in the center and work your way out. By so doing you will find that it may help you to narrow down precisely how you’re feeling within a current or past situation.

You can then seek to understand the identified emotion and counterbalance any uncomfortable emotion that you may be experiencing.

For example, over the past week I may have been experiencing “fear”.

Within the concept of fear I can then narrow it down that my fear may have stemmed from feeling insecure and finally inadequate.

After I have successfully narrowed down and identified what I’ve been experiencing I can then consider ways that I may more fully experience the feeling of adequacy within my life and more equipped and prepared for the road ahead and lessen that primary emotion of fear. 

Stay tuned for Part 2…

Written by Brandon Nite, APSW, MSW graduate, Northwest Nazarene University. You can reach Brandon at

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