The Artistry of Emotional Intelligence

by Keith Beasley


When I first wrote about our Emotional Quotient (in the British Mensa magazine in1987) I was looking to identify and explore a bit of us that IQ didn't. I was fed up with the intellectualisation of anything and everything . . . not just in Mensa but in institutions of all sorts . . . and in society generally.

Then I had no idea what this other aspect of ourselves might be. I just had an inner need to break free of the logic and reason I'd been totally enveloped by all my life . . . although at that time, I wasn't even able to phrase it in those terms!

I had however found a home in amateur dramatics and folk clubs. I was finding that singing and acting made me feel better. It someone enabled a different, more fluid, more expressive bit of me to emerge. At the same time I started to write poems and articles . . . of which my EQ piece was one of the first.  The creative, artistic me was beginning to find an outlet. As it did so, so I realised how little encouragement it had previously had. Nobody had enabled me to be imaginative or to show my feelings. I soon found I had a lot of catching up to do . . . and many feelings from way back to release . . . ones that had just got locked away throughout my uncreative years.

At last I was beginning to find an aspects of myself other than my rational, logical, thoughts and the organised, analytical ways of life that I'd been brought up to live. As my feelings began to flow, so life began to make a bit more sense. The more I explored the emotional me, the more I could see and hear meaning in the words and actions of others. By opening myself to the illogical and chaotic in the world, so I was able to accept the fact that much of life is chaotic, unpredictable and not a matter of stated facts and simple figures.

It wasn't until 1999 that I was actively encouraged to draw and paint in whatever way suited me: I'd enrolled on a Watercolour class. Whilst we can measure the weight of an apple and describe it in words, one cannot truly appreciate the colour or texture of an apple until one has tried to paint it.  We may capture the image of something with a camera, but only by artistically studying a thing . . . and attempting to capture our impression of it can we say we know a thing. Scientific understanding is one thing, to see, hear or feel it through the senses of an artist is another, very different thing. Some would say a more important thing. Rather than enter that debate, let's just say that the world of an artist is a far more sensual and thus pleasurable one . . . and we're all artists!

This is perhaps where many of us are not as emotionally intelligent as we could be: we've been told that we cannot sing or draw (or write poetry or whatever) and we've believed it. For whatever reason we've not been enabled or encouraged to express ourselves creatively . . . and thus this hugely important part of us has lain not just dormant but caged and frustrated. From my own personal experience I'd say without any shadow of doubt . . . unless and until we seek and find our artistic self we can only be a fraction of the person we might be. And how can it be intelligent to withhold a large chunk of ourselves?

And so I gradually expanded my creative activities . .  from a member of a chorus in a amateur dramatic society to a lead in pantos; from performing other people's words to writing my own; from creative things to a plan to allowing all manner of pictures and sculptures to, somehow, materialise through my efforts.  Having a high IQ certainly does not enable this . ..  indeed it often limits it, since we try and analyse and plan . . . rather than just allowing ourselves and our materials to co-create a work of art. When our senses and emotions are as engaged as they are in such activities then life makes sense. It feels worthwhile. If that isn't a definition of emotional intelligence then it ought to be!

I now run a range of workshops and consultations aimed at helping others find and develop their creative selves. It's a real joy to help individuals who'd thought they were not artistic to create a piece of art. Time and time again we find that any block comes from childhood and is not only holding them back personally but often in their work . . . and relationships. To be true to ourselves we have to tap into our creative spirit . . . it's what makes us human!


Keith has been writing and working on Emotional Intelligence topics since 1987.
He's now based in Bangor, Wales


Go here for Keith's EQ Intro page


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