Increasing Emotional Intelligence Through Observing Thought-Waves

Empowering Extraordinary

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating one-self endlessly.”

          ~ Henri Bergson

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HERE IS A PLETHORA of information today about the benefits of emotional intelligence (EI) and how a high EI can increase performance, separating us into the top 10% of our competition.  Similar to being told to think outside of the box, the question naturally arises:

~ How do we increase our emotional intelligence?

~ What is the process to attain this goal?

Being told the categories and subcategories that comprise emotional intelligence are not enough. We need straightforward direction, concrete guidance, and someone to bring our awareness to what the limiting behaviors are that get in the way of increasing our EI.

~ What are the keys to reaching that elite group in the top 10%?

~ How do we go about getting the guidance to increase our EI and create our-selves endlessly?

~ What kind of awareness do we need to bring our attention to in order to increase EI?

Let me begin with a story.

Yearly, I take a trip to a small fishing village located on the Pacific coast of Mexico.  Each morning, I begin my day, sipping a cappuccino and journaling as I watch the fishing boats sway upon the melodic and endless movement of the ocean.

As I watch these boats move with the swell, I hear the waves in the cove below.  Sitting upon my stool, I watch as the water swells, undulates, creating wave after wave and I observe it all  with a somewhat removed perspective.  I know that when I go down to the cove to take my morning swim, my senses will be heightened as I am going to become intimately connected with this oceanic movement and my perspective is no longer a remote observer.  When my toes are at the in-between place of leaving the solidness of the beach and entering the vast ocean I am no longer separate but subject to the whims of the sea.

Ocean-waveAt the moment I wade out into the waters, becoming a part of this vast ocean, I pay attention to the surf and respect the power that it can impart. I am not afraid to enter large surf, yet I know that I have to get past the waves in order to enjoy my swim.  If I get caught up in a wave, it can knock me down, pull my feet out from under me, it can smash me down, and can even roll me back onto shore, shaken and defeated.

As we all know, the mood of the ocean can change. The waves can be small and inconsequential or large breakers preventing a safe entry unless we are highly skilled at navigating these waves. Regardless of size, waves are waves, and we are told never to turn our back, as they can be unpredictable.  How does this story relate to emotional intelligence?

Our emotions, and our ingrained patterns can be like the various waves we encounter at the waters’ edge. A thought-wave,  (as I have decided to call it) can be so fierce that, once caught up in, we are powerless to its hold. Just like waves, our thought-waves roll over our best intentions and our old reactions, our old patterns of responding take over, preventing us from achieving and being the way we want to respond under stress, under conflict, or those situations where miscommunications and misunderstandings have prevailed.

~ How then, do we push past these thought-waves increasing our emotional intelligence?

~ What is the first step to take to increase EI?

While the answer may sound simple, it is difficult and an ongoing process.  The first key to unlock your potential is to increase self-awareness.  Again, the answer provokes the question, HOW? How is this achieved? Below are some guidelines to start this journey:[message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#F0F0F0 ” end_color=”#F0F0F0 ” border=”#BBBBBB” color=”#333333″]

  1. Observance of the thought-waves and how they permeate your actions, decisions, and responses.
  2. While observing, gain a removed perspective rather thachange-brain-thinking-think-thoughtn getting caught up in the moment.  Once caught up, the wave has taken control and you are no longer in control.  This requires a highly skilled executive coach to help point out that the thought-wave can conquer your best intentions.
  3. Heighten your senses, identifying what triggers the unwanted responses and ingrained behaviors that occur. Become intimately aware of your thought-waves and respect their power while knowing you can take control and respond differently.
  4. Don’t turn you back and pretend it won’t happen the next time.  When we heighten our awareness and take ownership, we gain greater awareness in the moment it is happening and can alter our course.
  5. Don’t feel defeated.[/message]

It is worth repeating, “Don’t feel defeated.”  Change is change and with a skilled leadership coach who specializes in this process, it takes time.  I have a saying, if you have the awareness and the intention to change, it will happen.  One more thought.

Some days at the beach, the waves are too big, too powerful to try and push through and go for a swim.  At these times, it is best to sit on the beach and observe, watch their patterns and unrelenting persistence.  Like some thought-waves, we need to be aware of what might be too big to take on by ourselves, and let go of trying to push through knowing we could drown.  At these times, it is best to sit and observe, and not get caught up in the power play.

Eventually, these waters that we were unable to navigate will subside into something more manageable. Once that has happened, it is time to push through and continue the path of expanding self-awareness through the intimate knowledge of your thought-waves.

Note: In this article, I am only addressing one aspect of the components necessary to increase EI – self-awareness.

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers). Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for almost 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Melinda uses assessments to help bring more awareness. Whether you are a leader or manager in transition, need a thought partner, or need to improve your professional presence, Melinda has developed unique and innovative techniques from her background to help you reach higher heights. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder.


  1. Thank you for sharing Melinda. I love how you use the analogy of the ocean to impart “thought waves”. As a lover of the ocean I often find myself at the waters edge and simply breathing to its ebb and flow until I feel mentally restored.

    That said as a massive “empath” I am these days far more self aware in terms of my own EI and have only recently realised that far from it being a curse, I am able to use my empathic powers to enhance and develop the work I do. In fact after recently publishing my first book one reviewer describe it as ” emotional intelligence at It’s best” ? Now whether that’s true or not I can’t say but I’ll take the compliment al day long thank you very much!

    Thanks again for sharing your excellent post Melinda.