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Mª Teresa Mata Massó:

Mª Teresa Mata Massó: "Emotions are not harmful, what can be harmful is the relationship we create with them"

July 19, 2024

Emotional intelligence is one of the most popular concepts in modern psychology, and no one doubts the importance of managing emotions in our well-being. Being emotionally intelligent helps us make better decisions , to perform better at work, to have higher quality interpersonal relationships, among other advantages.

  • Related article: "The 10 benefits of emotional intelligence"

Interview with Mª Teresa Mata Massó, psychologist at the Mensalus Psychology Center

Today we speak with Mª Teresa Mata Massó, general sanitary psychologist of the Mensalus Institute of Barcelona and professor of the online course of emotional intelligence training, to help us understand the importance of this concept and what are its benefits for mental health and well-being of people.

In recent years there is a lot of talk about emotional intelligence. How would you define this concept? Each person has a unique and non-transferable system of thoughts and emotions. Others can empathize with him, but each individual is expert in their own content. Starting from this preamble, we can say that emotional intelligence is that part of intelligence that pays special attention to the functionality of that system and looks for the necessary tools to ensure its sustainability.

Each of us has "glasses" from which to build the world from four essential factors: the first is the life experience, that is, all those experiences that we have throughout life and that condition this system of thoughts and emotions. The second is emotional inheritance; each person is part of a family, a city, a culture, etc.

There are a whole series of social and educational elements that have transferred us and that interfere with how we see reality. The third factor are those traits that define personality; they also have a role in the "focus" of our glasses. And the fourth is the vital moment in which we find ourselves, the "here and now"; With 50 years, we do not see life as we do with 30.

The work of emotional intelligence tests this system of thoughts and emotions to demonstrate its degree of functionality from considering the person as an expert in their own life story.

Why is it important to be an emotionally intelligent person? What effect does emotional intelligence have on our lives?

For one simple reason: operate in a sustainable way. That is, with an optimal level of well-being and a degree of suffering that can be assumed in order to have the feeling of living instead of surviving.

Developing emotional intelligence means questioning certain "comfort zones" from which we feel safe (but not comfortable) and discovering what exists outside. Exiting the comfort zone involves contemplating new points of view, putting into practice new ways of doing things, creating new thoughts, feeling new ways of being and being, increasing the ability to create and restructure, etc.

Sometimes we remain immobile in certain comfort zones for fear of the unknown, for insecurity or for disbelief towards our potential. To remain locked has a price. This is what emotional intelligence tries to show.

So, continuing with the question that opened this interview, being emotionally intelligent means being aware of the degree of well-being we gain and lose, inside and outside the comfort zone, in order to set an objective that directs us towards change ( in the right moment). It is not always smart to leave a comfort zone, it is important to find the way and the moment according to our needs and those of the environment.

Are there negative emotions for health? which are the ones that hurt us?

Emotions are not harmful, what can be harmful is the relationship we establish with them. Every emotion has a function. If we ignore (here we would speak of a relationship of denial) to emotion, sooner or later will seek a way to claim their right to exist and be understood.

Why is it so important to accept emotions? What consequences does it have to repress them?

Repressing an emotion means not allowing this emotion to exist. This is different from slowing down, containing, relaxing or setting aside at times (that is, controlling emotion). From emotional intelligence we seek the efficient expression of emotion. This means that, as far as possible, it is functional, it helps us "earn more than lose" and preserves our self-esteem. In other words, that the management we carry out is consistent with our needs and respectful. Of course, this does not prevent the emotion from generating discomfort.

Do you think that the importance of emotional intelligence is taken into account in schools? Is enough done in the educational field?

In my opinion, nowadays, a better psychoeducational work is being carried out from the school (emotional intelligence is taught) but not enough live feedback is created through practical examples.

The fact of generating insight at key moments in the classroom (for example, when a classmate has not accepted a constructive criticism, when another has set a low assertive limit, when the emotional expression is installed in the complaint and not offers a speech that speaks from the need, when the visible emotion is anger and, behind it, a deep sadness hides, etc.) is the best way to teach. Helping students through questions that open the option to detect destructive thoughts, propose more complete discourses and promote untested solutions, is a real way to put emotional intelligence into practice.

How is emotional intelligence integrated into psychological therapy?

Personally in the first place, I notice how the patient builds his own "glasses", that is, his vision of the world, and it works as a mirror to increase his capacity for introspection and self-knowledge. Subsequently, we assess together the level of functionality of these glasses and look for hypotheses that reinforce the meaning of their construction through knowing vital experiences, personality traits, inherited meanings and all those events that define their current moment.

In psychotherapy as in training courses, still resort to experience and discover useful information in the history of life, we always return to the here and now, we never stay anchored in the past, we look at how it influences the present. Likewise, in any exercise, we look for a utility in the reality of the moment with type questions "and this, in my life, what does it mean?" Or "where can I start acting?". Concrete is one of the principles of emotional intelligence.

After a psychotherapy session, the insight increases. New lines of thought are awakened and options unknown until the moment are born, untested options are mobilized.

In addition to the psychotherapeutic and educational field, in what other fields does emotional intelligence apply?

Emotional intelligence is a pillar in the business world and organizations. Those teams that form emotional intelligence, prepare their workers to communicate from the sum, streamline procedures that have been hindered or expired, create new scenarios that, without joint work, would still be unknown, etc.

Emotional intelligence is the fundamental tool to take advantage of human potential. Fortunately, more and more companies are betting on this type of training through experiential dynamics and online practical training. From the Institut Mensalus we design programs to increase the efficient and sustainable work within a team.

You provide the "Online Course on Emotional Intelligence Training" of the Mensalus Institute. Who is this training for and what are the benefits for the people who do it?

The online emotional intelligence course is the result of an experiential work of 8 years of group training. Its syllabus and methodology have been designed with the aim of bringing the user closer to an experience similar to face-to-face training with the advantages of distance training. Elements such as monitoring by the tutor, practical and intelligent tasks, live interaction through webinars as well as the class concept are some of the elements that characterize this course.

The recipients are professionals from the world of health, education, social sciences and organizations. Training for all those interested in knowing in a practical way the procedures and strategies of emotional intelligence training.

Among the main topics that we work on in the online course, we highlight how to obtain useful information from an emotion, what strategic questions can we use to manage conflicts, what motives are hidden behind the difficulty of saying no, what can we propose to carry out a solution not tried, what tools do we have to set limits, what is a positive-realistic objective or what is emotional plasticity and how can we integrate sustainable mechanisms in our work and personal life.

With this course the user can feel that he is doing a practical and useful work in his daily life without leaving home.


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