Why Journal Writing Is Good For Your EQ?

What do journaling and reflective writing have in common with building and developing your emotional intelligence?

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When I was growing up I had a strong feeling even though I could not put words to it back then that emotional intelligence (my common sense and intuition) served me much more effectively than the highly regarded cognitive IQ. As a young child I saw things in my family and my environment that I just knew weren’t right and I spoke out against it. It didn’t always go down well.

My parents were delighted when I got a place at a sought after girls grammar school in our local area. But my school, which had a strong focus on academia only served to stifle my creativity and at the age of sixteen I failed most of my GCSE’s even though I loved learning and was a model student.

That was a pivotal moment in my young life. Faced with the option of staying on at school and the reality of being forced down the route of a secretarial course or re-sitting my GCSE’s I made a very conscious and clear decision I’ve never regretted. I set my sights on college, leaving behind five years of solid friendship and a comfort zone of familiarity for the unknown territory of college. I knew in my bones that I needed a new challenge, that staying on at school would not be right for me even though I was going against the norm of the path girls followed at our school.

At college enrolment I came head to head with the Head of

A’ Levels with my mother in tow (parents very rarely turned up for their children to enrol at college). He took one look at me, told me I could re-sit some of my GCSE’s, add in some new one’s and start my A’ Levels all at the same time. The combination of a stretch and his clear belief in me was all I needed to extend myself into a new place of growth and development. Within the space of two years I had five GCSE’s under my belt, achieved two A’ Level’s and once I had achieved all of those left to attend a new college where I added two more A’ Levels to my list.

But this story is not about the qualifications per se but about my ability to draw on my own self-awareness at a young age and knowing and trusting what was right for me and, what things went against the values I was slowly forming from my life experiences and view of the world. It was the beginning of the roots of the formation of my own emotional intelligence made famous in the early 1990’s by the then science journalist now psychologist Daniel Goleman.

Turns out that IQ was not the greatest indicator of personal and leadership success or job performance. Research indicated around that time was that IQ contributed 25 per cent to career success. Turns out that IQ on it’s own was not enough and emotional intelligence (EQ - Emotional Quotient) had a far greater impact on the realisation of real authentic.

Even though Goleman is the name most strongly associated with the introduction of emotional intelligence to the masses much of the work around emotional intelligence was previously pioneered by researchers and scientists like Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer Richard Boyatzis, Paul Brown and Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences. But it was Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (1995) that caught the attention of the masses.

Over the years through my own personal practice I discovered through the combination of journal writing and reflective writing how both methods which I use to explore my work and my personal life have been strong advocates of strengthening and cultivating emotional intelligence capabilities and are both approaches that can be used for individuals to personally take responsibility for developing and developing strong foundations in emotional intelligence. The practice of conscious writing and reflection relates strongly to the six areas often identified as the key indicators of the formation of emotional intelligence.

Goleman’s four main areas of emotional intelligence are:


·Awareness of self and others

·Social skills


Here are some of the ways in which I believe journaling and reflective writing connects with the four development areas of emotional intelligence.


Journaling and reflective writing allows you to be aware of your own thoughts and feelings and be in a better position to manage and handle stress. It is a safe, self-directed space to express and unravel emotions and helps determine when and how to express emotions beyond journaling and reflective writing. Goleman believes all change start here with self-awareness. Journaling or writing reflectively gives you a higher degree of self-awareness and understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.

Ways to connect your journal and reflective writing to EQ:

·Write about your feelings in your journal or reflective notes.

·Are your feelings congruent with your reactions and behaviours?

·Make a list of your strengths and limitations.

·How can you build on your strengths?

Awareness of Self and Others

By journaling and reflecting on your work, how you do things, your relationships with others you are laying them down in writing for examination and exploration. Your journal and reflective writing notes are a way of you individually taking responsibility for understanding how your emotions and feelings impact others and understanding how others maybe emotionally feeling.

Before making a rash decision or not thought through decision you can use your writing to slow you down and listen to your own wise counsel. This helps to cultivate better decision-making skills and cultivate healthier relationships with others. It’s a healthy way of processing and releasing conflicts, frustrations and the difficult and more complex dynamics of relationships with others.

Ways to connect your journal and reflective writing to EQ:

·Make a list of all your different roles at work and in your personal life.

·How do you feel about each role?

·What works?

·What doesn’t work?

·What would you like to change

Social Skills

Social skills are about developing empathy, your understanding of the organizational politics and understanding the needs of colleagues, staff, clients and customers.

Ways to connect your journal and reflective writing to EQ:

·Draw up an inventory of your main relationships at home and at work?

·How well do you listen to each person on your list?

·How would you rate the quality of your interactions and communication with each person on your list?

·What is my body language like when you’re communicating with each individual?

·How would you like to improve or progress your relationship with each person on your list?

·What would this require for you to do more or to do differently?

·How willing are you to do this?


Journaling and writing reflective notes is a form of self-organizing on the page. The practice of intentional writing in this way can help identify what you think, notice what you feel and decide on how you will respond. It’s also about your response to others, how you work flexibly with others and how you maintain positivity.

·When was the last time you had an impulsive emotional reaction?

·What was the impact?

·If the impact was negative - What would you do differently next time?

·If the impact was positive - What would you do more of next time?

·If the impact made a difference - What would stay the same?

I have over twenty years of journaling under my belt and a long history of reflective practice. Emotional intelligence is an area of personal and professional development you can take personal responsibility for at very little cost that has huge rewards. The leaders of the future (in all fields and professions) need to be fit for purpose. It is no longer enough to rely solely on your cognitive expertise and knowledge.

A study in the 1950’s of 80 Ph.D.’s in science who underwent a series of personality tests, IQ tests, and interviews when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Forty years later, when they were in their early seventies, they were tracked down and estimates were made of their success based on resumes, evaluations by experts in their own fields, and sources like American Men and Women of Science. It turned out that social and emotional abilities were four times more important than IQ in determining professional success and prestige.

·How can you ensure your IQ is balanced with your EQ and that they work in partnership and collaboration?

Journal and reflective writing can be boosted hugely by investing in other learning modalities to build on your EQ capabilities. Why not try one of these free on line EQ courses to find out more about your EQ type. Become curious about your feedback. Ask yourself questions that will support you to build on the findings. It is not the whole truth. Everyone has the potential to grow and shift.

Free EQ Tests

University Of Warwick


Institute For Human Potential


MEIT Free EI Test


Central Test


Jackee Holder

Professional & Personal Coach, Author, Speaker & Journal Coach, Life Is A Work In Progress!

I am energised and come alive when I am writing and journaling and over the years I have filled the pages of over one hundred journals. I am a bookaholic and see writers of all genres as part of my natural tribe. I am qualified in many areas of personal development and well-being including a Masters degree in creative writing and personal development from Sussex University and in the completion stages of training as a psychosynthesis counsellor. But by far life and it many bumps, bruises and triumphs continues to be my greatest teacher. Life has been a series of adventures and challenges but creativity has remained a mainstream force of my life. This means that over a period of twenty years I have authored four published books, 49 Ways To Write Yourself Well, Be Your Own Best Life Coach, The Journal Journey Guidebook and Soul Purpose along with numerous workbooks, e-books, free journaling products and articles for a range of journals and magazines. I have recently launched The Inner and Outer Nature Self Discovery deck of cards which brings together my love of journaling and nature. In my professional vocation I work as a corporate coach, coach supervisor and leadership facilitator. I love what I do, no two days are the same and I love how I can bring so much of what brings me alive into this work. I care about our environment and have a deep reverance for trees and nature. I hold nature and journaling as my go to sources of well being and write regularly around the therapeutic benefits of forest bathing, connecting with nature and journaling. Twice a year I open the doors to my online well being journaling class, Paper Therapy. Over five weeks you are immersed in a world of journaling prompts and exercises that empower you to creatively and mindfully grow a daily or weekly journaling practice. You will learn about the therapeutic benefits of journaling and how journaling can help you thrive even when you are challenged and stretched. Paper Therapy http://www.jackeeholder.com/events/paper-therapy-online-journal-writing-course/ I journal regularly, love listening to an eclectic range of podcasts interviews which challenge me to think outside the box. I am an early morning urban city walker and love the quiet hum of the mornings when most of the rest of the world is asleep. I have a real curiosity about trees and tree mythology and love the way trees beautify our and resource the environment. London is my home and for now I feel so lucky to live in the city with the most green parks and spaces in the world. You can find Jackee here: http://www.jackeeholder.com Follow me on my urban walkabouts at Instagram:@jackeeholderinspires @girlabouttown Twitter: @jackeeholder