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What Is Emotional Intelligence All About? Self-Control

By Alainnah Robertson September 17, 2022 Mindset

When Daniel Goleman published the book Emotional Intelligence in 1995, he sparked much public discussion about what “intelligence” really is. Until Goleman’s book came along, people generally used that word to mean brain power, believing that a person in possession of that power could apply it to any problem, be it logical, scientific, moral or emotional.

The device for measuring how much of this all-embracing power a given person possessed, they thought, was intelligence quotient (IQ). Then, through his book, Goleman made people aware that humans also have an emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), and it exists independently of their IQ. In fact, it turned out that people with a high IQ could have low emotional intelligence, and vice versa.

How we discuss feelings and our ability to handle them has never been the same since.

The Human Emotional Response

When emotions arise in the brain, the amygdala jumps into action. It can override the rational cortex so that the body can react almost instantaneously to whatever stimulus triggered the emotion. This is a very useful response if that stimulus is an immediate threat to your safety – that is, the kinds of fight-or-flight situations our prehistoric ancestors faced.

It’s not so good for most situations in modern life, because it causes us to act on unthinking impulse and, often, in a self-centred manner. An emotionally intelligent person has learned to be aware of and control the reaction of the amygdala, and when emotional, lets the emotion subside before taking any action.

Emotional Intelligence Is Self-Control

Emotional intelligence can be divided into four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Self-awareness means knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, understanding your emotions and being honest with yourself.

Self-management includes being calm, staying calm in a crisis and reacting rationally.

Social awareness involves empathy, being able to put yourself into the place of another person and seeing things from all points of view.

Relationship management includes conveying positive emotion (for example, through recognition and positive feedback), listening to other people and hearing what they are saying, and giving people what they need and want in emotional terms.

What Does Emotional Intelligence Look Like?

People with high EQ can easily be recognised based on their ability to engage with others. They are genuinely interested in other people, and they ask questions, listening carefully to the answers.

They exercise self-control in their behaviour, considering the feelings of other people. Such people allow others to be themselves, without trying to control them or take centre stage. And they respect and accept the validity of other people’s opinions.

Beyond these qualities, they know their weaknesses and strengths. They can accept criticism as a useful tool to improve their behaviour. If they make a mistake, they can learn from it and move on. They set clear boundaries and can say no when appropriate. If given responsibility, they welcome it and respond to the best of their ability.

They can be a team player, or a leader. They see leadership as inspiring others to fulfil their full potential. They give their team praise when deserved, and helpful feedback when needed. Altogether, other people respond to them with admiration and respect.

How Does Emotional Intelligence Work?

Daniel Goleman defines EQ as six points:

  1. Knowing that one is feeling an emotion
  2. Recognising what it is
  3. Giving a name to the emotion
  4. Discovering what triggers it
  5. Understanding the emotion
  6. Learning to control it

Another way to put it could be: when I feel an emotion, I recognise it by name; I realise that I am emotional; I understand that someone or something makes me feel a certain emotion; I take a moment to restrain myself; then I respond in an appropriate, constructive manner.

Mindfulness Together – Developing Emotional Intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence is a personal journey but it can be a fun experience with the right tools and support. So would you like to have fun finding the “real” YOU? Would you like to do so sharing with friends as they find the “real” them?

My new book, Mindfulness Together will give you topics of conversation and easy steps to follow to bring together a group of individuals focused on self-development, including topics like emotional intelligence. You will grow and focus together on what is a mature human being. You probably already know, but it can be fascinating to explore this question with other people.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you aware of your emotions? Do you find it difficult to control how you feel? Do you let your emotions control you? Are you in control of yourself at all times?

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Harriet Cabelly

Great article! Very important topic. Not written about enough in this casual way. More in the curriculum arena for schools. We all need this throughout our lives – all part of good mental health/hygiene. Thank you for this piece.

Thank you for your comment, Harriet! I couldn’t agree more that young people should be exposed in a focused manner to personal self-development and what it entails. It’s good news that schools are moving in that direction more and more. 


I couldn’t put it better myself Harriet. We/society and different age groups are likely to benefit from gaining knowledge. I like the term ‘relationship management’.

So many folk don’t have the capacity to ‘open their minds’. This includes lack of awareness along with selfishness.

None of us are perfect; For me one of my mantras is treating people how I would like to be treated!


I’m 67 and still learning! Lol…my greatest challenge ….trying to work out “how to respond In an appropriate constructive manner” …particularly with toxic, immature, irresponsible people who are not interested in the slightest in personal development and being their best selves or being emotionally intelligent …much work to do on myself yet …

Alainnah Robertson

We are all a work in progress, Yvonne! You’ve taken the most important step in recognising that you need to do work on yourself. I’m still working on myself at my great age of almost 90.


Emotional Intelligence as a topic of conversation has come a long way since first described. It is now described in classrooms in our colleges and universities. It is probably one of the reasons the younger generations in our world react with more “self control” when in the presence of people who are different from them, who hold different world views, who look different. I look forward to taking a look at your book and perhaps using it to have enriching conversations.

Alainnah Robertson

It’s wonderful that Emotional Intelligence is now being more understood and the information is being passed on. You are probably correct in your observation that many young people are more mature in their interaction with people who are from different cultures and backgrounds. Hopefully, this is a growing trend.

One of the ideas behind my book, “Mindfulness Together”, is that people will have enriching conversations around the topic of what is a mature human being. It’s such a pleasure to hear you say you hope to use the book to do just that. Enjoy!


I really like what you said here. I haven’t thought about my emotions quite this way before. I do know that some people and situations cause a very emotional response from me. Most times I’m in control but sometimes I completely lose it. I think being aware, giving it a name will help me a lot. Thank you!

Alainnah Robertson

You’ve “got it” Carlene! Thank you for your reply! We can all sometimes “completely lose it”, that’s being human, the important thing is that we recognise we do it, and control ourselves before we do ourselves any damage. You are on the road!


Controlling one’s emotions is a huge challenge! My husband and I struggle with this. Thanks for this enlightening article, I think I’ll share it with my husband!

Alainnah Robertson

You are so correct, it’s difficult to control our emotions. Good luck with your sharing with your husband! :)

The Author

Alainnah is 90 years old, lived on three continents, and has been a lifelong learner, pursuing knowledge and wisdom. She’s always formed groups to study together. She prefers to ask questions and enjoy what others have to say. Alainnah has compiled her group study sessions in a book, Mindfulness Together.

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