4 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do

Sure, you’re smart. But are you emotionally intelligent?

Emotional intelligence doesn’t come from a specific book or a rigorous education. Instead, it refers to how well you understand your own emotions as well as those of others.

Even if you don’t know much about emotional intelligence, it’s easy to spot when someone doesn’t have it. For example, someone who constantly blames other people for their own problems is failing to understand how disrupting their negative emotions are.

Those without emotional intelligence often sabotage their own success as well. They keep getting drawn back into the wringer of anxiety and stress, and this keeps them from making any real progress toward their goals.

All of us should strive to be more emotionally intelligent. To help you out, we’ve prepared a guide for what not to do so you can further improve your emotional intelligence. Here are four things that emotionally intelligent people don’t do.

Criticize people

Criticizing other people is very easy. In fact, it’s basically built into our human nature. But have you ever thought about what drives our constant need to criticize?

There is basically a fine line when it comes to criticism. For example, constructive criticism is always valuable — it’s a way of letting those around you know what they can do to improve themselves or their lives.

Other times, though, “criticism” is just a codeword for tearing other people down. And why would someone do that? Because they think tearing someone down is a way of building themselves up.

Maybe you say (or simply think) another person is stupid because it makes you feel smart. Or you criticize their taste in fashion or decor because it makes you feel good about your own aesthetic sense.

Emotionally intelligent people avoid doing this because they see what a sham it really is. Tearing down another person will never actually build you up. Instead, you should focus on improving your own life.

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Worry about the future

Do you know anyone who comfortably lives in the “now” instead of constantly worrying about the future? In all likelihood, that person is emotionally intelligent.

As with criticism, some concern over the future is positive and even necessary. It would be foolish, for instance, if you never gave any thought to your retirement and took plans to make that retirement more comfortable.

However, some people worry about the future so regularly that it disrupts their daily life. This is what those without emotional intelligence do: they put the cart before the horse!

The main reason anyone worries about the future is because it is completely uncertain. It’s easy to make the rookie mistake that constantly worrying about the future helps you take control of that uncertainty. In reality, it makes you worry so much about tomorrow that you can never enjoy the here and now.

What do emotionally intelligent people do instead? Simple: they accept that the future is uncertain and there is only so much they can do to change things. By doing what they can and letting the rest go, these people free themselves from obsessing over tomorrow.

Obsess about the past

Of course, not everyone obsesses over tomorrow. Quite a few people obsess instead about what happened in the past!

This is arguably the most common sign that someone lacks emotional intelligence. It may mean that you’re unable to sleep because you’re remembering a painful argument from years ago. Or you’re focused on how you could have said something different in a past conversation and completely changed your life.

As with criticism, some level of this can be constructive and positive. We can never learn from our mistakes unless we confront them, and confronting our mistakes is the key to personal growth.

Those without emotional intelligence, however, worry about the past is a chronic and toxic manner. Ironically, this obsession over the past is usually because the person wants an illusion of control in an uncertain world.

How do emotionally intelligent people view mistakes from the past? They understand that there is nothing they can do to change what has already happened.

By giving up on a negative obsession with the past, it’s possible to embrace the liberating possibilities of the future.

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Live with unrealistic expectations

Those who lack emotional intelligence often drive their friends and even their family members away. Why? We can sum it up in two words: “unrealistic expectations.”

When you’re close to someone, it’s natural that you want what is best for them. Maybe you want them to have a high-profile job or the partner they deserve.

However, those without emotional intelligence go the extra mile and create unrealistic expectations for others. Maybe you think your daughter deserves to be CEO fresh out of college, or you think her boyfriend should be a millionaire.

This creates a feedback loop where you are disappointed that your loved ones aren’t meeting your unrealistic expectations. And when that happens, you end up resenting them and pushing them away instead of helping them succeed.

At the end of the day, these kinds of unrealistic expectations are just a petty way to try to control the lives of others. Emotionally intelligent people drop those expectations and simply accept their family and friends for who they are.

Doing so will make you happier and healthier in your daily life. And more than that, it will make you into the kind of person that your family and friends truly deserve!