The Key to Emotional Intelligence

Dr Demartini puts into perspective how your perceptions affect your reality and why EQ is so important in leadership and the achievement of your goals and dreams.

What is Emotional Intelligence or EQ, how to increase it, and why there are two very specific sets of questions you can ask to master both your life and EQ.

What is EQ or Emotional Intelligence?

EQ or Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive and interpret the reality of life; respond accordingly with the various well-governed emotions; and measure, manage and use those reasonable emotions for communication, leadership, social development, and more.

Here’s how it works

As you ‘experience’ your environment, your hierarchy of values influences how you continually interpret it. The pulmonary nuclei in the thalamus of your brain acts as a gating mechanism that filters your reality and sensory perceptions, before discerning which events to include and which to exclude from what you consciously perceive.

Think of a mother walking through a shopping mall. If her highest value and top priority is her children, the thing that’s most important to her, she’s likely to notice things relating to children and overlook other less important things such as business or sports-related items if they’re not high on her values. In other words, her unique hierarchy of values filters her reality to include and exclude different things without her always being conscious of it.

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In the same way, when you meet someone, two processes take place in the brain:

  1. Your body’s nervous receptors constantly take in information, including visual, auditory, smell, taste and touch and all other sensory systems (of which there are currently recorded 33+), and transmit this information to the brain. This is RECEPTION.
  2. You also have subconsciously stored emotional experiences that you polarized and judged in the past as being painful or pleasureful, avoiding or seeking, excluded or included. These subconsciously stored emotional experiences are imposed on the information taken in by your nervous receptors, resulting in PERCEPTION.

In that way, your perception is tainted by your VALUES and all the imbalanced EXPERIENCES that you stored in the past.

Anything you saw that was more pleasureful than painful or more attractive than repulsive was likely stored as an impulse TOWARDS, and anything you associated with more pain or challenge was likely stored as an instinct to AVOID.

All subconsciously stored emotional experiences and memories are imposed on new information coming in through your receptors, and the receptivity and the perceptivity joins together into associations in the brain – associations that have emotional overlays. These emotions are nothing more than the ratios of those present receptions and previous perceptions.

Think about it this way. If you have a ratio of 5 positives to 20 negatives, you are likely to have an instinct to AVOID it.

If you have a ratio of 10 positives to 1 negative, you are likely to have an strong impulse TOWARDS it.

These impulses originate deep down in the survival animal area of the brain, the subcortical area or amygdala, because quick impulses towards or away from perceived prey or predators can be necessary for survival. As a result, these impulses fire up before you can think.

If you do not have any governance over your mind, these emotions and impulses can run you to the point where you overreact and have extreme emotional responses.

If you RECEIVE something with your receptors and then PERCEIVE something that reminds you of a highly-charged event in the past that you have not yet neutralized, you can create overreaction.

You may have seen this in your own life – a time when you overreacted with an emotional response before you have even had the time to think it through.  You may then have judged yourself harshly for that reaction because of a social idealism that you have subordinated to about how you are “supposed” to be, which resulted in emotions stacked up on top of other emotions.

Those emotions are likely based on previous experiences, the subordination to outside ideals and norms that you’re “supposed” to live by, your own personal experiences, the fantasy you have made about your life that you dream about that may not even be real, and the real objectives that you hold inside of you.

All of those are woven together into an experience when you receive and perceive. The ratios of those perceptions take all that information and create a net result.

Your perceptual ratio will determine whether it is the subcortical part of your brain firing for emergency or the advanced prefrontal cortical part of the brain, which is there for governance.

Your forebrain comprises the medial prefrontal cortex or executive center that is involved in governing your emotions.

An individual who is more moderate, more neutral and who has more balanced ratios of perceptions, awakens the forebrain and the executive center, which then works to regulate or dampen the impulsive and instinctive emotions.

In that way, it works to calm down and neutralize previous perceptions, resulting in the likelihood of you not over reacting to the situation.

Any individual who has the capacity to moderate any extreme subjectively biased, emotional reactions is considered to have a high EQ or high emotional quotient.

They have the capacity to not react and let the external world run them, but instead to use the external world as a feedback to govern or master their lives.

 When you can ask the question: “How is whatever is happening to me ON the way, not IN the way?”, you tend to awaken your executive center instead of your amygdala that may create feelings of fight or flight.

While you may need those emotions in an emergency, the number of times you have life-threatening moments in your life are minimal.

It would instead be wise to learn to be more adaptive and have resilience no matter what happens to you, to realize that it was just a false alarm, and to re-center yourself.

That is what it means to have a high EQ. That is self-mastery.

 How do you master emotional intelligence?

Any time you put somebody on a pedestal, it’s likely because you’re too humble to admit that what you see in them is also inside of you.

If you meet somebody that you resent. It’s likely because you’re too proud to admit that what you see in them is inside you, and you’re disowning those traits.

As a result, you may not see people for who they are because you may unknowingly superimpose your previous subconscious baggage on them.


The next time you meet someone that you may feel skeptical about or resentful of, try ask yourself in that moment:

What specific trait, action or inaction do I perceive this individual displaying or demonstrating that I despise, dislike, resist and want to avoid most?

 Try to narrow it down (it’s likely to be something they did too much of or too little of in your perception, or maybe even a physical trait you are judging in them) and define it in three to five words.

Then go and reflect and identify specifically where and when you perceived yourself displaying or demonstrating that same or similar specific trait, action or inaction. Identify where you did it, when you did it, who did you do it to, and who perceived you doing it.

An interesting fact – I’ve gone through the Oxford dictionary and I found 4,628 different traits.

In doing so, I discovered that I have each and every one of those human traits, actions, or inactions.

I am at times nice and mean, kind and cruel, giving and taking, generous and stingy, honest and dishonest, deceptive and forthright, and many more.

If I look at my life, I’ve done every single one of them in different moments in my life.

So, it’s not a matter of if you’ve done these behaviors, it’s a matter of where, when, and to who, as well as who has perceived you demonstrating them.

Unless you can identify that what you see in them inside you, there will tend to be no connection, no ‘empathy’, and no way of relating and effectively and respectfully communicating with that individual.

Get true about who you are and discover that you’re everything. I often say that at the level of your essential soul, nothing is missing in you; at the level of your existential senses, things appear to be missing in you; and anything that appears to be missing in you are things you’re too proud or too humble to admit that you have that you perceive in others.

As long as you’re too proud or too humble to admit that you have what you see in others, you are likely to demonstrate a lower EQ.

However, if you introspect and reflect, find it in you and own it, you’re likely to stop the resulting judgement and bring the polarity of perception into balance.

 Now go to a moment where and when you perceive this individual displaying or demonstrating that specific trait, action, inaction that you despise, hate or resist and in that moment and from that moment until the present.  


  • How has it served me?
  • How has it benefited me?
  • What did I learn from it?
  • What did I not have to do or what did I get to do that benefited me because of it?
  • What is the upside to it?

All traits serve, or they would go extinct in human behavior.

So, it is not about getting rid of or trying to gain a trait, action, or inaction. You already have all of them – you may just be unconscious of them or have thought you need to get rid of half them because you were taught to perceive them as being negative.

As I often say, how are you going to love yourself if you’re trying to get rid of half of you? It’s wiser to go in there and own the traits. That’s why I went through the 4,628 traits and owned them as a preemptive strike to reduce the probability of judging others out of subjective biases of my past that I have not been willing to work through.

Quality Questions

 You’ve the capacity to ask new sets of questions and become aware of previously unconscious content., The quality of your life is based on the quality of the questions you ask.

By asking questions that make you conscious of the unconscious information that you may have ignored helps you become fully conscious or mindful. This is what your intuition is constantly whispering to you for.

Your intuition is constantly trying to take your low emotional intelligence or EQ and bring it to a higher level.

When your EQ is high, it brings you into a more fully conscious and balanced state where you are inspired by your life, living by purpose, and extracting meaning (the balanced mean) out of your experiences. In fact, the extraction of meaning points to a high EQ.

When you’ve extracted meaning out of your existential existence you’re able to see things as they are, not as you initially and subjectively projected onto your reality and then overreacted. The more traits, actions or inactions you can own within yourself, the less likely the world around you can push your buttons and initiate ungoverned or extreme emotional reactions.

When you are more governed you will tend to see your experiences ‘on the way’ more than ‘in the way’ and be more grateful.

Anything you cannot feel gratitude for and say thank you to is baggage. Anything you feel thank you for is fuel.

The ability to ask questions, to equilibrate the mind and to bring yourself back into a poised state is true emotional intelligence.

It also allows you to have ‘empathy’ because you realize that what you see in others is inside of you.

As a result, you can reflect on them. You can understand them. You can be less reactive to them. You can be less judging of them. You can be more receptive to them. You understand that you have the same behaviors.

In doing so, you’re also likely to have equity between you and them, and equanimity within you, which allows you to be authentic.

If you want to be loved and appreciated for who you are, then this is the way to do it.

By equilibrating your perceptions of others and equilibrating within yourself, you can liberate yourself from the false facades, masks and personas you wear, and get to be YOU.

In conclusion, the people around you come into your life to point out what you haven’t loved and owned inside yourself.
 In doing so, they give you an opportunity to liberate yourself by asking quality questions:
  • What do I perceive in them? Where do I do that?
  • If you see so called ‘negative’ traits, ask “What’s the benefit to me?”
  • If you see so called ‘positive’ traits, ask “What’s the drawback to me?”

These questions will help you dissolve any subconsciously stored impulses and instincts that are running your life so you can liberate yourself to get on with your mission, go out and lead, and give yourself permission to do something extraordinary with your life.


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About Dr John Demartini:

Dr. John Demartini, is a human behavior specialist, a polymath, philosopher, international speaker and published author. He has recently been awarded the IAOTP Top Human Behavior Specialist of the Year as well as the IAOTP Lifetime Achievement Award.

His work is a summation of over 299 different disciplines synthesized from the greatest minds in most fields of study today. His extensive curriculum focuses on helping purpose driven individuals master their lives so that they are able to more extensively serve humanity with their inspired vision and mission.

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