4 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People

#1: Letting go of unhelpful thoughts

Nick Wignall
7 min readAug 21


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

As a psychologist, I work with a lot of people who want to improve their emotional intelligence.

But despite all the inspiring podcasts and YouTube videos they consume, they still struggle with it:

  • They get lost in spirals of worry and anxiety
  • They get judgmental with themselves for how they feel
  • They fall into self-sabotage as soon as they start moving forward

The problem is…

Emotional intelligence comes from consistent habits, not inspiring ideas.

Here are four habits that will improve your emotional intelligence:

1. Letting go of unhelpful thoughts

More thinking isn’t always a good thing — and often, it’s the very thing making us miserable.

Most of us grow up being taught to think long and hard:

  • From the time we can talk, we’re told to “think before you speak.”
  • We get praise and attention for thinking hard and doing well in school.
  • And as adults, our success at work largely depends on our ability to think carefully and creatively.

But while our instinct to think more and think harder serves us well most of the time, there are still a lot of situations when more thinking makes things worse:

  • When an irrational worry is spinning through your mind, thinking more about that worry rarely fixes anything and usually makes you feel more anxious.
  • When you’re lying in bed at 2:00 am not sleeping, thinking more about why you’re not sleeping is only going to keep you awake longer.
  • Once you’ve reflected on a mistake and tried to learn from it, ruminating on it over and over again will only make you feel miserable.

Thinking hard is a tool. And like any tool, it can be used well or poorly.

Emotionally intelligent people understand when a situation can benefit from more thinking and when it will only make things worse.



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com