Emotional Intelligence: 5 Questions to Determine if You Suffer From Emotional Disconnect

Posted on Tue, Oct 13, 2015
Emotional Intelligence: 5 Questions to Determine if You Suffer From Emotional Disconnect

Part 4 of a series of articles on the importance of developing emotional intelligence for medical professionals.

By Marc Milano, MD, FACEP

Throughout life, negative experiences may cause you to turn your feelings off. The consequence of this is an "emotional disconnect.”

People become disconnected from their emotions, particularly the cardinal ones - joy, sadness, anger and fear. You must develop an awareness of these primal instincts and learn to master them to become truly emotionally intelligent.

Although we may try to manipulate our feelings, it should be obvious that they can’t be eliminated. We attempt to dull, deny or defy base emotions, but they persist in our subconscious if we do.

One of the keys to emotional intelligence is emotional awareness. Without this, we lose the understanding of what motivates us, resulting in compromised communication. Worse yet, we risk becoming overwhelmed by daunting situations.

Ask yourself the following questions regarding how in touch you are with your emotions:

  1. Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?
  2. Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?
  3. Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear and joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?
  4. Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?
  5. Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?

Hopefully, you answered yes to all or most of these questions. If not, you may be suffering from emotional disconnect. If you truly desire emotional health and emotional intelligence, it’ll be necessary to restore the emotional synapses. Be prepared to accept your core emotions, and get comfortable with them.

Restoring the Emotional Synapses: Embrace Your Emotions

Anger is an emotion with a lot of energy that can be used to save life as well as destroy it. Anger is energizing and can inspire creative action. Only uncontrolled anger that has turned into rage represents a threat to ourselves and others. Sadness is a call to slow down, stop thinking, and surrender to what you’re experiencing. Sadness asks you to open up, trust, and allow yourself to be vulnerable in order to heal and recover from loss. Fear is a bottom-line emotion, often the cause of chronic anger or depression. Fear isolates us and distances us from others. Yet fear, too, is meant to play a life-supporting role, signaling danger and triggering life-preserving action.

Allowing your emotions to flow out is initially overwhelming, but remember that intense emotions don’t last forever; they’re fleeting, coming and going without stop unless you start thinking about them and mentally rehashing your feelings over and over.

Until next time, be well!

Marc A. Milano, MD, FACEP, is chief of the department of emergency medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, N.J. He serves as physician head coach of the Patient Satisfaction Coaching Program at Emergency Medical Associates, an emergency medicine practice headquartered in Parsippany, N.J. Dr. Milano received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, his medical degree from St. George’s University in Grenada, and completed his emergency medicine residency at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J.

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