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EQ--for the Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy' is the title of a novel about Michelangelo, by Irving Stone. When I encountered the title in middle school, I decided to read the book to find out what 'agony' and 'ecstasy' might be like, states of existence apparently available to uber-humans like Michelangelo. I was sure I had not experienced them.

It may have been a misperception, or it may have been a vocabulary problem.

I'm now a grandmother, and I now know what they mean. In fact I have survived both many times.

When we're experiencing deep, intense emotions is when we feel most alive. It is also when we are most vulnerable and most afraid. When we're in despair, terror or torture, we want to know if it is going to go on forever. When we are in bliss, we need to know that if it should end, we would be able to survive it.

Managing our emotions is part of emotional intelligence. Managing them, not controlling them. Having such high states of emotion gives us experience in handling them, and the knowledge that we can survive them. It also brings us the understanding that they don't last. The good news is, no matter how agonizing, it won't last forever, and the bad news is, no matter how ecstatic, it won't last forever.

We also learn about the natural balancing act our brains do. When we have an ecstatic moment, for instance receiving an award, we learn that it's often followed by a 'down' time. Having gone too high, we seek to restabilize by going too low.

Does the converse happen? If you experience a deep grief, you will have carved out a space that can be filled up by happiness or joy.

If you are not willing to experience the agony, you won't be able to experience the ecstasy.

To increase your emotional intelligence, take a course of get some EQ coaching. It's when we're experiencing our emotions that we feel most alive, and our life has the most meaning.

Susan Dunn, MA, Clinical Psychology, The EQ Coach, Emotional intelligence coaching for individuals to impact every area of your life 'career, relationships, life skills, midlife transition. Distance learning and seminars. Ebooks at for free ezines. Put 'EQ Work' or 'EQ Personal' (or both) for subject line.


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