Aside from the smile and slowly receding hairline, do you know the biggest difference between the 18-year-old Alan and the 43-year-old Alan?

My level of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.

Through maturity, experience and a ton of interpersonal work… I now have a much higher EQ (an awareness and understanding of all of my feelings and emotions).

Raising my EQ has drastically improved my happiness, fulfillment and my ability to connect with others.

Many people assume I am always happy, upbeat and positive because that’s the persona I choose to display publicly (in person and on social media).

And while I am an optimistic and positive person to my core, in full transparency, I am not happy 24-7 (cough, cough – no one is).

I get cranky

I get irritated

I get angry

I get sad

I get disappointed

I get frustrated

I get depressed

I get pissed off

I get discouraged

But you know what I’ve learned?

It’s OK to feel that way!

Those emotions are just as natural and necessary as the ‘good’ ones…

And they shouldn’t be suppressed.

So I allow myself to feel them.

I don’t fight them, bottle them up or feel guilty for having them.

Instead, I own them, acknowledge them and process them…

When I am feeling that way… I try to dig deeper to gain understanding and clarity.

WHY am I feeling frustrated?

WHY am I feeling depressed?

WHY am I feeling so mad?

Once I’ve got a clearer picture on the WHY, I take comfort in knowing that these feelings/emotions will pass.

They are only temporary. In fact, now that I have developed the EQ to process them effectively, they rarely last more than a few hours at most.

So I may get frustrated… but I don’t stay frustrated.

Most importantly, when I am experiencing negative feelings/emotions I don’t project them. I don’t let how I am feeling at that moment effect how I treat other people.

EXAMPLE: I don’t ‘reply to that email’ when I’m mad because I know my current emotional state is tainted. And ‘sending that email’ won’t be good for anyone.

And please know there is a huge difference between experiencing and processing negative feelings/emotions and whining and complaining.

Whining, complaining and making excuses are all behaviors of a victim mindset.

I never allow myself to play the victim.

I know how good I have it. 

I know how precious life is. 

I know how valuable time is.

And I don’t want to waste it or be ungrateful.

But that doesn’t inoculate me from negative feelings.

Instead, I give myself permission to feel how I feel.

Plus it’s exhausting trying to act differently than you feel. It’s fake. It’s disingenuous. It’s inauthentic. It’s akin to putting on a clown mask when you’re feeling sad.

You may be able to fool others but you can’t fool yourself.

So I don’t fight it… I let it flow!

You know what?

It’s liberating…

Emotional intelligence… and its pillars (self-awareness, empathy, humility, and vulnerability, etc.) are often referred to as ’soft skills.’ Which is totally misleading because they are the HARDEST traits to develop! Not to mention they are the most important skills a person can possess…

It’s HARD to develop SOFT skills!

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