By Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali
Over the course of my life, the most important and valuable thing that I have learned is the importance of emotional intelligence or emotional strength (EQ). Our life is an intrinsically sociable construct, and without having the capability and the skills to function well within this relational environment, it’s quite uncertain how far intelligence alone will get us. Emotional Intelligence plays a significant role in improving our physical and mental health and wellbeing, and most importantly it is a major driver for success and earning respect in the society. As Roosevelt once said, ‘no one really cares how much you know, until they know how much you really care’. With a high level of EQ, you can be highly productive and healthy at the same time, and build a reputation in society. Therefore, I deemed it necessary to write an article about emotional intelligence and how it affects our lives.
So what is this emotional intelligence? According to Salovey and Mayer, (1990) who were the first people to introduce the concept, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and control our emotions, and influence the emotions of others. It is comprised of elements such as motivation, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills. When it comes to acquiring personal and professional success, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as our intellectual ability (IQ). According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, emotional intelligence can have some real health and wellness benefits (Schneider, et al., 2013). However, to grow your EQ you must learn to be emotionally resilient, and refrain from responding to emotional situations that can get your dander up, and force you to lose your cool. Life can sometimes be pretty stressful. We have work pressure, studies, tough schedules, unfortunate events, personal goals, and then there’s the icing on the cake, toxic people. The problem with toxic people is that they defy logic, and most often they show signs of anti-social personality disorder when they defy all of the social norms and values while attempting to cause harm to somebody. These people derive satisfaction from chaos, and in pushing other people’s buttons just to see how they would react. They create unnecessary complexity, conflict and most importantly stress.
According to numerous studies, stress can have a highly negative impact on the brain and can damage the neurons that are responsible for reason and memory (Floyd and Hensley, 2002; de Celis, et al., 2016; Yuan and Hou, 2015). A research study conducted at the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that an exposure to provocations that cause significantly strong negative emotions is similar to the experience we get when dealing with toxic people. So, whether you feel negativity, or experience a victim syndrome, either way, toxic people or, better yet, narcissistic sociopaths can drive the brain into a stressed-out state, which needs to be shunned at any cost.
It may sound difficult but there are ways to show resiliency against an attack launched by a toxic person. Although, their excessively dramatic attitudes, deceptions, manipulation strategies, intimidation, and a Grandiose sense of self-importance can easily drive any normal human being into madness. However, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we do things like civilized people, we hold a significant reputation in the society, and most importantly we are above their illogical and psychotic behavior. We often have encounters and bad experiences with toxic people in our life. For instance, I once found myself on the receiving end of an abusive, corrosive, illogical, and wicked behavior of a toxic individual. So, what did I do? I didn’t take it personally, I didn’t respond to the negativity, and the problems created by that person, because I knew that if a person acts in a certain way towards you, they are only projecting themselves. Toxic people will always try to push your buttons, which is why it is highly important to keep your emotions at bay. Moreover, if you’re emotionally intelligent and resilient, you’ll take the experiences and encounters you had with toxic people in the past and use them to steer through future conflicts.
There are a few effective strategies that we can employ when dealing with a toxic or irrational individual.
- The first and most important thing to know is that you should never allow yourself to respond to a toxic person emotionally and get sucked into the mix. You don’t need to try and beat them at their own game, you just need to show resiliency and rise above the chaos. Distance yourself from the emotions and the drama, and remove yourself from their traps.
- Another important thing that needs to be remembered is that we should never compare ourselves to others, and we should always take other people’s opinions with a grain of salt. No matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, our self-worth comes from within us.
- One thing that I’ve learned about irrational and toxic people is that if they made a mistake, they will keep wallowing in their problems, and never focus on the solution. They will always want people to join in their pity party. And the mistake that most of us often make is that we listen to their complains because we don’t want to be seen as uncaring and rude individuals. However, by doing so we get sucked into their negative emotional spiral. The best thing to do is to ask the complainer how they intend to fix the problem, rather than focusing on their complaining and whining and getting sucked into the emotional mix. They will either quiet down indicating that they only want to cause more trouble, or they will redirect the conversation towards a productive solution.
- Moreover, we should always be solution oriented and quick to forgive. Remember that you should never allow yourself to be bogged down by other people’s mistakes, and you should always be willing to let go of what happened. That is the major difference between you and them. However, always be assertive by protecting yourself from future harm.
I’ve learned in life that being emotionally strong and enjoying a high self-esteem is the key to success and overall wellbeing, and the most essential thing to keep in mind is that we’re in control of far more than we realize. Stay strong, be smart, and Keep Following.
de Celis, M.R., et al., 2016. The effects of stress on the brain and adrenal stem cells. Molecular Psychiatry, 21(5), p.590
Floyd, R.A. and Hensley, K., 2002. Oxidative stress in brain aging: implications for therapeutics of neurodegenerative diseases. Neurobiology of aging, 23(5), pp.795-807
Salovey, P. and Mayer, J.D., 1990. Emotional intelligence. Imagination, cognition and personality, 9(3), pp.185-211
Schneider, T.R., et al., 2013. Emotional intelligence and resilience. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(8), pp.909-914
Yuan, T.F. and Hou, G., 2015. The effects of stress on glutamatergic transmission in the brain. Molecular Neurobiology, 51(3), pp.1139-1143
– Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali is an MBA/M. phil specialized in Supply Chain management. The author has worked as a research analyst and a critical review in the past, and he is a writing enthusiast. Follow him @saiyedfauzan (Instagram) or visit the author’s Linkedin profile.