8 challenges faced by people with a high emotional intelligence

Having high emotional intelligence is widely seen as a good thing.

When you’re an emotionally intelligent person, you’re more likely to have healthier relationships, meaningful friendships, and a successful career – according to experts.

So, it’s all around a positive thing to have high EI (emotional intelligence).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for those blessed with more empathy than the rest of us.

Because these people can find real challenges in certain life events – more so than other people – due to their emotional intelligence.

Being so self-aware can lead them down a path of overthinking, feeling guilty, and mismanaging everything in their lives out of fear of doing something “wrong”.

Do you think you have high emotional intelligence? Check out these 8 things you may find challenging in your life.

1) Cutting toxic people out of your life

As a person with high emotional intelligence, you can usually understand people better than they understand themselves.

Which is definitely a positive trait and an incredible skill to have.

But the problem is that not everyone will deserve your understanding. Some people are toxic, narcissists, or just downright not good for your life.

And because you have high empathy, you can understand and explain away their behavior. This makes you great at forgiveness.

But it can also lead you to forgive people and let them back into your life when they don’t deserve it.

Or at least, when letting them back in will only continue to hurt you, rather than benefit your own life.

Striking a balance between being understanding and knowing when enough is enough is difficult for emotionally intelligent people.

And sadly, it’s something they often get wrong.

2) Manipulating people to get what you want (and whether it’s right to do so)

There’s a great debate that often goes around in my head:

“Is it manipulation or is it just knowing how to work with people and motivate them?”

Of course, manipulating people is often seen as a bad thing (and can be a very bad thing). Whereas understanding people and working well together is a good thing, right?

So where do you draw the line?

Ultimately, I believe there’s a fine line between understanding people and manipulating them.

If you’re an empath as well as someone with high emotional intelligence, you may have conflicted feelings about manipulating them (i.e., you don’t like doing it).

But because you’re so good at working with people sometimes, it’s a challenge to do it well without manipulating them.

3) Receiving feedback without taking it personally

When you’re emotionally intelligent, it’s not just other people’s emotions that you’re in touch with. You’re also highly in touch with your own sense of self.

Self-reflection, analysis, and criticism are daily occurrences for you. You’re always on the hunt to look inward at your own behavior and how you can do (and feel) better.

But the downside is that being so aware of your flaws and what you’re working on makes receiving criticism from others so much more difficult.

It’s like that phenomenon you used to experience as a teenager when you were just about to wash up and your parent asked you to wash up. For some reason, it was infuriating and made you not want to do it, even though you were just about to!

A similar thing occurs in adults with high emotional intelligence – except way less dramatic.

Because you’re so aware of yourself, having someone else tell you what you need to do better feels like a personal attack. It feels like they’re picking on you or pulling apart your weaknesses to put you down.

But the reality is (usually) that they’re just trying to help.

4) Overthinking, rather than analytical thinking

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Speaking of fine lines, there’s a very thin one between overthinking and analytical thinking.

Again, analytical thinking is a good thing. It helps you understand things, identify outliers, think critically, prepare better, and be more creative.

But it can also be downright unhelpful and exhausting at times.

Let’s take the scenario below as an example.

When someone gives you constructive criticism at work, you happily take the feedback on board and agree to do things their way.

But when you go to bed that night, the entire interaction starts playing on your mind.

You start thinking:

“Was I really so bad at that thing or are they just trying to get me to do something I shouldn’t be doing?”

“When they smiled at me like that at the end of the discussion, was that a malicious smile or a genuine one?”

Eventually, you end up in a vicious cycle of thinking:

“No, they were just being helpful – I just don’t like getting bad feedback”.

And then:

“Yep, they were being manipulative because they’re jealous of how well I’m doing at the moment”.

Can you see the challenge?

5) Choosing the safer option vs the right option

Sometimes, there are safe options and there are the right options.

Knowing which to choose can be tricky for someone with high emotional intelligence.

Because is the safe option the right option? Or is the right option the best option?

According to experts, people with high emotional intelligence are more likely to have high levels of conscientiousness.

This means they’re very mindful of doing the right thing – and therefore tend to be very careful and diligent in their decision-making.

Generally, this works in their favor. They make considered, logical, and empathetic decisions that are more likely to succeed.

But sometimes, it’s a real challenge. Their inclination to be risk-averse can mean they lose out on a good opportunity.

And listening to their conscientiousness vs taking the risk can be a tough decision.

6) Being creative over logical

Another challenge for people with high emotional intelligence is tapping into their creative side.

As experts have found, emotional intelligence and creative traits aren’t often found in the same people.

Being a creative person generally means you have a tendency to not conform, act impulsively, and have an excitable personality.

Whereas people with high emotional intelligence prefer to go along with the status quo, follow processes, act conscientiously, and make level-headed decisions.

Because of these differences, high EI people sometimes find it difficult to tap into their creative side.

Challenging the status quo or proposing totally “outside of the box” ideas isn’t often at the forefront of their minds – and they have to work hard to find their creativity rather than let it flow naturally.

7) Ignoring their inner critic

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As mentioned, highly emotionally intelligent people have a strong tendency to self-reflect. Their overanalyzing, overthinking brain doesn’t always work in their favor.

Sure, a little bit of critical thinking can go a long way in improving self-awareness and developing your skills.

But too much of it and you can drown.

A real challenge for high EI people is knowing when to listen to their inner critic – and when to tell it to shove off!

Because all jokes aside, experts have proven time and time again that negative self-talk can have a detrimental impact on your confidence and self-esteem.

8) Jumping to conclusions over positive ones

It’s very easy for negative thought patterns and beliefs to take over the brains of people with high EI.

Like in the example we used earlier about the work colleague giving negative feedback.

Jumping to the negative (that the colleague was being malicious rather than genuinely helpful) can become an instinctive reaction.

And because the bad behavior can be easily rationalized by the person with high emotional intelligence, it can be all too easy for them to believe it.

And for them to believe other negative thoughts.

Overcoming negative thought patterns requires a strong shift in mindset to be more positive – which can be a challenge for someone who can explain both sides of the coin.

Final thoughts

There are so many benefits to being an emotionally intelligent person.

In fact, most workplaces want to hire people with high emotional intelligence. They’re great at following processes, acting rationally, and working well with others.

They can think on their feet and be trusted to make reliable decisions, which is why they’re often so great as middle managers and in operational positions.

In their personal life, someone with high EI also generally has great relationships with the people around them.

Their romantic life, friendships, and family relations are often based on mutual respect, trust, and understanding (at least on their side, anyway).

But the challenge is not letting their understanding of people and themselves get the best of them.

Slipping into negative thought patterns, “bad” overthinking habits, and being too forgiving are all too easy for a person with high emotional intelligence.

And it takes a ton of self-awareness and self-evaluation (a high EI person’s forte) to prevent that from happening!

Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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