Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Cultivating Emotional IntelligenceBy George Marino CPC, CMMT August 23, 2021

What are emotions? According to psychologist Paul Ekman, “emotion is a process, a particular kind of automatic appraisal influenced by our evolutionary and personal past, in which we sense something important to our welfare is occurring, and a set of physiological changes and emotional behaviors begin to deal with the situation” (1). According to Ekman, emotions evolved as part of our survival mechanisms, which he called “automatic appraising.” That is why it is difficult to change what we become emotional about. Mindfulness does not require us to change emotions; in fact, just the opposite is true. Mindfulness helps us foster a friendlier relationship to our emotions, even the more difficult ones.

When these emotions react, it’s without our consent and often without our awareness. Did you ever instruct sadness to visit you? Or say, “Hi happiness, come join me at my office today?” Understanding the emotional process deeply, we can forgive both ourselves and others, in due time. Of course, there are other ways that our emotions can be triggered besides reactivity. Talking about and remembering past emotional scenes or thinking about the future can trigger emotions. Even watching characters in films or theater or reading a mystery novel can elicit strong emotions.

Regardless of the circumstances, our emotional responses can either be functional or dysfunctional (unconscious). British clinical psychologist Paul Gilbert proposes that humans have three main emotional regulation systems: the threat-protection system; the drive-resource-seeking and excitement system; and the contentment, soothing, and safeness system (2). For now, it is important to realize that no matter the emotion, we can accept it in the present moment as we notice and feel into the emotion. There is a field between the stimulus and response where the lilies grow called mindful presence.

In this field, we go beyond balancing the books and align with the vertical dimension of our T account in the present moment. Now, that is accounting that truly matters.

I help people who may be experiencing stress, frustration and overwhelm. My passion is helping them break free of these conditions so they can live a life they love!


1. Cullen, M., and Brito Pons, G. (2015). The Mindfulness-based Emotional Balance Workbook. Ekman P., p. 21. New Harbinger Publications

2. Cullen and Gonzalo, The Mindfulness-based Emotional Balance Workbook, 22.