Education Week: Emotional intelligence important to mental health

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A student fills out a screening form for BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services. John Stoker said it’s important to learn how to recognize and manage emotions in a BYU Education Week address Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Universe archive)

Everyone experiences emotions, but how many truly understand them?

This was the premise of DialougeWORKS president and founder John Stoker’s BYU Education Week address Tuesday, Aug. 22.

Stoker stressed the importance of obtaining emotional intelligence, the ability for people to recognize emotions and know how to manage them effectively.

Stoker said when people do not seek to understand their own emotions, they can end up pushing their own feelings away and fleeing situations where others are experiencing and expressing strong emotions.

Stoker said the first step is for people to develop a personal awareness of their own emotions.

He said while the five senses bring data to the brain, all people have personal lenses the information must filter through first. These lenses are developed over the course of a lifetime and are used to select and assemble data in order to give meaning to experiences.

Stoker said these lenses are usually flawed and lead people to make up data as they form their interpretation of events, producing emotional reactions.

Stoker said emotions say more about a person than about the circumstances the person is in.

Stoker said emotional negative reactions signal that an internal value has been violated, such as respect, feeling valued, comfort or perfection. He said people’s values lead to their beliefs and behaviors, which then lead to an emotional reaction.

He advised people to learn how to identify what values are being violated when they are upset so they can learn what their triggers are. He urged everyone to ask themselves, “Why am I upset?” and to list as many answers as possible when trying to identify and understand their emotions.

Stoker ended the presentation by saying God wants everyone to be able to learn how to incorporate these tools.

“I really believe our Father in Heaven wants us to understand our feelings,” Stoker said.