Creative Insights: Karen Wallace

The Emotional Intelligence of Artists
What is your relationship to your emotions?

Dr. Daniel Golemen wrote a book called Emotional Intelligence. In the book he described people with high emotional intelligence as being able to perceive, control, and evaluate their and others emotions. As artists, we need skills to be able to look inward and outward in an emotionally intelligent way. Why? Because we depend on our emotions to help us make good art, to respond to our own and others art, and to figure out where the next inspiration for our work is coming from. Dr. Goleman theorizes that there are four parts to Emotional Intelligence. Take this quiz to help you evaluate your Emotional “IQ.”


Self-awareness, ask yourself:

Can I recognize my own emotions and do I know how they affect my thoughts and behaviors?
Do I know my emotional strengths and weaknesses?
Can I step outside myself to witness how I feel and react?

Self-management or Social Skills, ask yourself:

Can I control my impulsive feelings and behaviors?
Can I follow through on commitments and adapt to change?
Do I have the ability to act emotionally appropriately?

Social Awareness or Empathy, ask yourself:

Can I pick up on emotional cues of others, understand others emotions and feel comfort with other peoples emotions?

Relationship Management, ask yourself:

Can I develop and maintain healthy relationships with clear communication?
Can I work in a team and face and resolve conflict?

How high is your Emotional Intelligence? Where did you need growth or reflection? We all need to be able to be with, listen to, and have ways to work with our emotions. As artists, when we are not in a healthy relationship with our emotions, we can be overwhelmed and unproductive. Sometimes what we call perfectionism, being blocked or depression can just be a time when we are not in a good listening relationship with our emotions. Focusing is the best practice that I have learned to create an ongoing and supportive interpersonal relationship with my emotions. Once we establish a healthy emotional relationship with ourselves our inner and outer lives become clear, richer and deeper. Similar to having to work on maintaining a healthy physical, spiritual, and intellectual relationship with our bodies we need to work on our emotional side.

Read Karen’s Contributing Editor Profile here.

Listen to a podcast with Karen and Ricë Freeman-Zachery here.


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