Emotional intelligence: A survival mechanism

Posted on: June 10, 2007

Emotional intelligence: A survival mechanism

A few days ago I asked my assistant to catalog a list of 200 contrasting positive and negative feeling words from a list of a few thousand feeling words. Amazingly my assistant completed this task in less than three hours but more amazingly she made an observation that sparked the question that caused me to write this article. She asked why in a list of a few thousand feeling words was it noticeable that there were more negative words than positive. This question got me thinking.

Emotions are signals. They represent our way of perceiving the world. They give us clues about whether a particular experience is or will be pleasurable or poisonous. When I consider the observation of my assistant it struck me that it would make logical sense to have many negative feeling words in our vocabulary. In the same way that our immune system has its own intelligence and thus multiple ways to perceiving threats to our physical body the emotions are also intelligent.

Multiple negative words in our vocabulary are essentially a survival mechanism. They help us perceive threats to our emotional wellbeing. They are a language based way of warning us that the situation that we are in is not okay for our emotional self. With the multiple threats to our emotional well-being it is likely that the more vocabulary we have to describe perceived threats the greater the likelihood that we would be able to take appropriate action to ensure our emotional survival.

Therefore I continue to advocate that the average person build a stronger emotion vocabulary to ensure that we are more aware of the threat to the emotional self. Building a stronger emotional vocabulary will increase self awareness and improve our ability to perceive the negative emotions that always drive anger. Overall this is another step on the journey of anger management. Please continue to visit my blog for more discussion on the connection between emotional intelligence and anger management.

Thanks Cori for helping me to expand my own on thinking the connection between anger management and emotional intelligence.


Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF

President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers

Carlos Todd is the owner of Todd’s Anger Management Solutions in Charlotte, NC


1 Response to "Emotional intelligence: A survival mechanism"

You are setting the pace for all anger management providers. Your focus on emotional intelligence and communication as important aspects for anger management is providing a fresh look at how these two concepts compliment our work.

Emotional intelligence is clearly one of the most important and most popular of the four anchors of anger management.

George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF

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