The Wisdom of Emotions

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” — Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ

I’m not sure about you, but I am more aware all the time about my need to increase my emotional intelligence. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to realize this, but it sure has helped me to understand how some emotional patterns and habits in my life have served me well and how others get in my way big time.

Lack of emotional intelligence can be costly. The Center for Creative Leadership says,

“75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”

However, if we get curious about our emotions, viewing them as neither good nor bad, but rather our expression of them as either appropriate and helpful or destructive and dysfunctional, what, then can we learn from them? Here are a few possibilities of the information that lies beneath our five core emotions.

Anger can tell us a goal is blocked. It can tell us something is no longer of service to us. Something is not aligned and must be changed or removed so that something more beneficial can take its place. It may be telling us a boundary needs to be set or that a boundary has been violated.

Fear tells us something important needs to be known. Something is not being faced. Without access to fear we may be living in denial of reality. Fear tells us something new wants to be learned and awareness is required.

Sadness tells us something needs to be let go of, said goodbye to or, moved on from. Sadness is the energy of loss. Something once useful and meaningful is going away.

Joy tells us something needs to be appreciated, celebrated, or laughed at. It tells us someone needs to be patted on the back.

Sexual feelings tell us something new needs to come into the world. It is the energy of creativity which is not the same as lust. It is a flow of life force. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, labeled harnessing the creativity of sexual feelings as transmutation. Superior leaders know how to have sexual feelings in a way that is respectful to themselves and everyone else. They use sexual energy to create and give life to their organization.

To increase your emotional awareness, stop periodically and ask yourself these questions.

  • What am I feeling right now? (Answer with one of the five core emotions. Don’t analyze it. Simply label it.)
  • Check your body. Where are the feelings located? What are the bits doing?
  • What is this trying to tell me?
  • How can I release it completely and learn from it quickly?

I will leave you with a quote from International Behavior Specialist, Mavis Mazhura,

“Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.” 


Rick Burris



  1. Rocio sharrock

    Excellent article. I will work on increasing my emotional awareness.
    Thank you

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