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Can You Develop Emotional Intelligence?

Steven Losardo, LMFT

When we find ourselves in the hard places where burnout and stress threaten our whole lives, we need to invest what little we have left into our emotional intelligence (Nasser & Sawicki, 2009; Harvard Health Publishing, 2022). This is one of the only ways to assure our well-being in the future. Being emotionally intelligent ensures that we can grow, heal, and manage what life throws our way without losing ourselves in the process. Put another way, “Emotional Intelligence is making emotions work for you instead of against you (Bariso, 2022).” How can you develop emotional intelligence? I am glad you asked. This blog will review using The Five C’s to develop or enhance emotional intelligence. 

The Five C’s of Improving Emotional Intelligence

  1. Curiosity. When we hit our stressed-out, depressed, anxious place and know that something needs to change, we will be tempted to start a negative blaming game of why we aren’t doing it right (National Institute of Mental Health, 2022). Instead, we need to lean into curiosity about not only what brought us to this place but what we want to happen going forward. When we are curious, we aren’t judging; we aren’t blaming. We can observe the process from a neutral standpoint and dream about what is ideal instead of what is expected. This can allow us the space that we need to find healing and growth, enhancing our emotional intelligence.
  2. Creativity. Maybe you don’t see yourself as a creative person. Perhaps you’ve never been good at drawing, or you used to like it, but other people do it so much better. It’s time to throw all of that thinking out the window. All humans are creative, and it’s time we started acting like it (Kashdan, Silvia, 2009). You may not be the next great American painter, but you can create. Whether that creation is art, words, relationships, food, mixed drinks, games, projects, seriously, anything that you can dream up can be a creation (Kashdan, Silvia, 2009). We allow ourselves to be creative when we stop putting barriers that tell us that we are or aren’t creative (Kashdan, Silvia, 2009). So, let go of those things and create.
  3. Compassion. The most powerful tool that anyone can have is compassion. It just makes sense that we not only learn how to show kindness to other people but that we also make a habit of showing compassion to ourselves. That means stopping negative self-talk and replacing it with positive and kind self-talk. No more thoughts of how you are a failure, but ideas about all of the things you can be proud of in yourself and your life. When we replace self-deprecation with compassion, we set ourselves free from what holds us back and strengthen our emotional intelligence.
  4. Calm. So many of us thrive in chaos. Or, likely, we think that we do. We worship at the altar of being busy and crave peace and calm when things become overwhelming. But true serenity within ourselves only comes when we can make decisions that lead us away from the chaos and into calm and quiet. Busyness is not the same thing as happiness, and we have to stop thinking that it is. Embracing calm means that we make space for the items and the people who matter above all of the mindless things we feel like we have to get done. We can be intentional in our time and find more meaning. This practice grows our emotional intelligence and makes life worth living (Nelis, 2009).
  5. Cultivate. To embrace the calm, have compassion, believe in our creativity, and perceive with curiosity, we must cultivate a mindset that gives to all of these things. We have to believe in the changes we are making and that we are worth making them for. We have to set firm boundaries and protect them (Pattemore, 2021). We have to quiet the noise and focus on the essentials. When we can take a step into this mindset, things can begin to change for us. We make new habits and strengthen our relationships; we can be kind to ourselves. We can heal ourselves, mind, body, and spirit with just a few changes.  

Follow the five C’s of improving your emotional intelligence, and you’ll begin to see results that will change your life. Emotional intelligence is about finding happiness and wellness in ourselves and our lives, and it’s never too late to start that process. If you would like help in your journey, reach out to Symmetry Counseling to talk with a therapist in Chicago. We are here to help!


Bariso, J. (2022). Emotionally intelligent people follow these 10 Simple rules. Retrieved on

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Harvard Health Publishing (2022). Retrieved on February 3, 2022 from

Kashdan, T. B., & Silvia, P. J. (2009). Curiosity and interest: The benefits of thriving on novelty

and challenge. Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2, 367-374.

Nasser, M., & Sawicki, P., (2009). Institute for quality and efficiency in health care: Germany

Commonwealth Fund.

National Institute of Mental Health, (2022). Retrieved on February 3, 2022 from

Neff, K. (2022). Self-compassion guided practices and exercises.  Retrieved on February 3, 2022


Nelis, D., Quoidbach, J., Mikolajczak, M., & Hansenne, M. (2009). Increasing emotional

intelligence:(How) is it possible?. Personality and individual differences, 47(1), 36-41.

Pattemore, C. (2021). 10 ways to build and preserve better boundaries. Retrieved on

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Pullein, C. (2020). What is essentialism and how you can benefit from it? Retrieved on

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Wiens, K., & Rowell, D. How to embrace change using emotional intelligence.  Retrieved on

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