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©Arlene R. Taylor, PhD

articles200408No family system is completely functional. Each has its strengths and weaknesses—low Emotional Quotient levels or EQ, for example. Many grew up in environments where undesirable behaviors so commonly occurred, they seemed normal.

While physical maturation is somewhat automatic, mental and emotional maturation are not. Building high EQ skills requires learning and choice. Since you only know what you know, many simply carry learned dysfunctional behaviors into adulthood.

Bad news: growing older is not synonymous with growing one’s EQ.

What do EQ skills look like in adults?

Basically like an unhappy two-year-old throwing a tantrum—trapped in a body that’s somewhere between 18 and 118 years old. 

Adulthood tantrums may involve angry outbursts, aggression, rage, tit-for-tat retaliation, gaslighting, and the silent treatment. It can also involve mental, emotional, physical, financial, religious, racial, and sexual abuse. So is consistent criticism of others in an attempt to make oneself momentarily feel better than.

Low EQ is unattractive to observe and horrible to live with! Here is a partial list of characteristics liknked with low—or no—EQ:

  • Frustrated, unaware
  • Restless, unstable
  • Poor self-worth, dejected, lonely
  • Unhappy and stressed
  • Angry, critical
  • Judgmental, blaming
  • Too dependent or inappropriately independent
  • Expects and perceives failure

Like water, behaviors tend to seek their own level. Low EQ—or high EQ. Whom would you hire? Who are your closest friends? What behaviors do you exhibit?

Just like the range of IQ skills, there is a range of EQ behaviors. Adults can act like babies, unable to delay gratification. Or like some children, pouting, whining, using tears as blackmail, and threatening to “leave.” Or like self-absorbed narcissistic teenagers, defensive, blaming, critical, judgmental, arguing if criticized, refusing to discuss or deal with issues, doing whatever it takes to look better in the eyes of others.

Here is the good news! Since EQ skills are learned, you can start building them any time you want. It is all about choice. Yours.

Meet “J-O-T” in Part 4.