What is emotional intelligence? I believe that the simple answer is being aware of your emotions and understanding why you feel a certain way. While we cannot control how others may make us feel, we can control how we react and how we treat others.
Being raised in an eastern European household, emotions were not something that we were encouraged to discuss, show, or analyze. Rage was normal for boys and girls should hide everything, or at least that’s the way I perceived it. Thank goodness I had art because I don’t think I would have otherwise survived my teenage years.
In recent years I have never been happier (aside from going away to college because that was just awesome). I think it's because not only am I pursuing dreams that I’ve had since I can remember but also because I am letting go of those things and people that continuously affect me in a negative way.
Let’s face it though life is not that black and white. Sometimes you can’t let go of certain people because despite their constant negative tendencies you may have a connection with them; this can be especially difficult with family and friends.
It is inevitable that throughout your life people will upset you. Some purposely seek out to make you feel bad or inadequate, while others simply aren’t aware of their own habits.
While my first instinct may have been (back in the day) to rage back or shut down, I now take a step back, try to figure out what about the situation exactly pushed my buttons, and analyze if it was really directed toward me or if I just happen to be there. Most often when people make you feel bad their anger, jealousy and/or negativity is based on their own personal battles and insecurities. Just remember that the people who continuously live this way are NOT emotionally intelligent and perhaps never will be.
Now the part where I take a step back, this is where the art comes in! I sketch, I write, I vomit every emotional thought into my sketchbook; I hold NOTHING back. Then I sit and think for a long time about what it all means. The most difficult aspect of developing emotional intelligence is having strength not to react immediately, especially when those who hurt you are closest.
Any art form, whether you enjoy music, writing or visual art, helps to calm your nerves and gather your thoughts. Before I began the painting above I was feeling a lot of negative energy, both inside of me and all around me. I desparately needed a sense of calm and peace. I painted outside in my courtyard where I was surrounded by beautiful fountains, happy trees and flowers (get the Bob Ross reference, hehe!), and I was completely inspired by my surroundings. After I finished, all of that negative energy seemed to disappear, and I felt the calm and peace that I so desperately needed. I hope that viewers feel the quiet stillness that I felt after I painted it.
I think that it is important to realize that we are all human and we make mistakes. Do I still occasionally react before I think?...sure I do! But I own up to it and try to be better, and I think that’s what counts. More importantly, I’m making a conscious effort to spend time with those who I do enjoy being with because that feeds my happy soul. Feed your happy soul people!
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Stories about how art inspires and changes us.