The Evolution of Emotional Intelligence

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be understood as the degree of intimacy that one has with their emotions. It can also be understood in terms of how it evolves. Lets look at this from the view of three stages (the stages are meant as marker points).


Robert Kegans work in developmental psychology reveals to us the patterns of the evolution of awareness, understood by looking at subject/object relations.

Kegan reveals that awareness matures as we bring our subjective experience into the field of our awareness; in other words, we become aware of what we are experiencing.

Stages of emotional intelligence

(1) Emotionally Unconscious

In the first stage, to some degree we are unconscious of our emotions. In this they exert an unconscious influence over our behavior and this fosters reactivity and circumstances that tend towards leaving us with regret. We mature towards Emotional Consciousness by virtue of bringing our subjective emotional experience into the field of our awareness. This results in the opportunity to actively engage in our relationship with our emotions.

(2) Emotionally Conscious

To the extent we are aware of our emotions we become capable of maturing into emotional intimacy. We gain freedom in this relationship through the choice afforded to us by virtue of our emotions. In this freedom we begin to choose how we would like to relate to our emotions and thus begin cultivating an intentional relationship with them.

(3) Emotionally Intimate

In emotional intimacy, we take an active role in developing our relationship with our emotions based on what works for us, and for our style, and what does not.

Principles for Emotional Intelligence

  • Curiosity: By allowing ourselves to be open to what we are experiencing and what may or may not be present, we open to possibilities for what we are willing to see.
  • Presence: The degree to which we are willing to make contact with the immediacy of our experience
  • Appreciation: The degree to which we are willing to welcome our immediate experience as it is.
  • Awareness: the degree to which we are willing to notice what is so

Techniques for Emotional Intelligence

  • Shadow Work Integration: Shadow work is the process of reclaiming dis-owned, repressed or denied aspects of the lived experience, including emotional states. Shadow work eliminates patterns of projection and repression, which are obstacles to emotional consciousness.
  • Intersubjective Awareness: Intersubjective Awareness is a contemplative practices that draws from our intrinsic connectivity as living sentient beings and relationship to explore the subtleties of the lived experience, and in the process cultivates awareness that fosters emotional consciousness.
  • Subjective Contemplative Practice: Simply practicing the art of being present to what is arising within supports the bringing of our emotional states into conscious awareness.

Practices for cultivating emotional intelligence

  • The Feeding your Demons Practice – can support shadow integration.
  • The 3-2-1 Shadow Integration practice – can support shadow integration
  • Emotional Intelligence Coaching: Can support the process of maturing in emotional intelligence.
  • uThrive Coaching: Can support cultivating intentionality around relating to emotional states.
  • Zen Coaching: Can support emotional awareness.
  • The Big Mind Process: Can support shadow-integration.
  • Aikedo: Can support dissolving resistance to emotional states.
  • Access Consciousness: Cultivates curiosity through inquiry based learning.
  • Learning through Inquiry: Cultivates curiosity
  • The Sedona Method: Draws from Buddhism and can support appreciation and curiosity as well as intimacy with the textures of many layers of emotional states.
  • The Enneagram: Can reveal patterns of unconsciousness and accelerate the development of emotional consciousness.

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