Have you ever asked yourself about the difference between emotional intelligence and mental strength? It’s a thought-provoking question because there are many misunderstandings about what it really means to be mentally strong and many myths about how you can develop emotional intelligence.
So, What Is Emotional Intelligence?
The definition of the term ’emotional intelligence’ has shifted over the years. According to the Cambridge Dictionary’s basic definition, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the way other people feel and react and to use this ability to make correct judgments and to avoid or solve issues.
Although the concept of emotional intelligence appeared in the 1960s, it didn’t become widely famous until 1995, when Daniel Goleman published the book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,’ which became a bestseller.
However, over the years, many people have misunderstood Goleman’s statements. While he argues that emotional intelligence can offer a competitive advantage in certain environments, he also notes that a high EQ won’t necessarily lead you to higher academic achievement or better SAT scores, since those things depend more on IQ.
Goleman identified five basic components of EQ:
- Self-awareness. The ability to notice and understand your emotions and drives, as well as their effect on other people.
- Internal motivation. A passion for work that goes far beyond money and status, like an inner vision of what is significant in life or the joy of doing something useful.
- Self-regulation. The ability to redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and to think before acting.
- Empathy. The ability to recognize the emotional makeup of others and the willingness to behave to them according to their emotional reactions.
- Social skills. These include proficiency in managing relationships and the ability to build rapport with other people by finding common ground.
And, What is Mental Strength?
The term mental strength is frequently used interchangeably with mental toughness. However, depending on how someone defines mental toughness, there is a good chance that the two terms aren’t the same thing.
Mental toughness is mostly used when people are referring to others like elite athletes or Navy SEALs; many of them are testing their bodies to their limits by checking how much pain they can endure. However, most of us won’t need to run on a broken ankle or physically intimidate our opponents. It’s a type of toughness that isn’t a skill most of us need in our everyday lives.
Being mentally strong doesn’t mean acting tough. It’s about being aware of your feelings and emotions, learning from difficult experiences, and living accordingly to your values.
Mental strength has three basic components:
- Regulating your thoughts. This involves learning how to train your mind to think in a useful way. That might mean ignoring self-doubt and replacing self-criticism with self-compassion.
- Managing your emotions. Being aware of your feelings lets you understand how those emotions affect the way you think and behave. It might include embracing your emotions—even when they’re uncomfortable—or it might be about acting contrary to your feelings when they don’t serve you well.
- Behaving productively. Deciding to take action that will make your life better, even when you struggle with motivation and delayed gratification, is the key to becoming mentally strong.
The Difference Between The Two
Emotional intelligence is a part of mental strength. However, mental strength goes beyond feelings and addresses the thoughts and actions that affect the total quality of your life.
Mental strength includes developing everyday habits that build mental muscle. Also, it includes giving up bad habits that hold you back.
The good news is that anyone can increase their EQ and build mental strength. Those skills will serve you well not only professionally, but also personally.