Society’s Disinterest is Costing Itself What it Wants and Needs
What doesn’t get prioritized doesn’t receive attention, focus, commitment and perseverance. That becomes a socially expensive problem.
It’s no surprise, despite pain, anger and rage, that the results are upsetting.
“When I think about the rampant lack of emotional intelligence in Western society, it’s hard for me not to think about the bigger picture,” says David Fornos, a psychotherapist in clinical, outpatient and inpatient settings.
“Emotional intelligence, like its name implies, is partly an aptitude for understanding and regulating emotions but it’s also a learned skill. A skill that modern Western society has not prioritized,” he says.
Humanity is not always a willing learner for a variety of reasons, whether it be overconfidence in what knowledge, understanding, skills and competence it believes it has developed, to intense ego or being a puppet of unhelpful emotions.
There is also ignorance or not wanting to look back to closely at what helped make us who we are today.
“Some of us may come from families of emotionally intelligent, assertive, sensitive people who do their best to communicate in a healthy way but I’d venture to say that this isn’t the norm,” Fornos has observed.
This signals a need — arguably a critical one — for improvement for conducting ourselves in society. Negativity often proves to be an impediment to such personal and societal development, improvement and higher level humanity.
“If we weren’t taught emotional intelligence growing up then it’s much less likely that we’d develop it in a society that almost never talks about it,” Fornos says.
Discovering the root to challenges is not something people often seek and commit to learning. Those shortcomings of emotional intelligence or underdeveloped skills often go back more years than we realize.
“From what I encounter in my practice, most Americans fail to identify or intentionally ignore instances of emotional abuse in childhood,” Fornos says. “This is because we simply aren’t taught that it exists in the first place.”
It’s difficult to address and problem solve to make improvements and personally develop, for the betterment of ourselves and all those around us and with whom we encounter, if we don’t know or won’t search out out insights, trauma and understanding that is sorely needed.
“Rectifying this situation will require emotional education on a societal level, and lots of it,” Fornos says.
He is encouraged though to a small degree that a change in thinking is leading to necessary improvements. Yet, disappointment remains.
“This is already happening to some extent, with some schools implementing emotional health programs but it is still not something that our society emphasizes as necessary for an education,” Fornos says.
A common call, greatly supported in society, is for mental health to be respected and supported as natural, not looked down upon. It remains a fear to discuss, pursue and own still to many people.
Fornos is bold in explaining his assessment of societal challenges of humanity and from where the most important help can and might need to originate.
“Destigmatizing mental health and going to therapy is another trend that I view as helping our dearth of emotional intelligence education but I have strong doubts that change can happen quickly enough without top-down sociopolitical change through concrete and effective measures on behalf of our elected officials,” Fornos states.
We don’t know what we don’t know, critical priorities aren’t currently being prioritized and leadership has yet to fully, sufficiently drive change that benefits the individual, humanity and society.
Michael Toebe is a reputation specialist who helps individuals and organizations. He writes Red Diamonds Essays and Reputation Specialist Essays (both on the Medium platform) and analysis and advisory for online publications: Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, New York Law Journal, Corporate Compliance Insights and Physicians Practice. He also publishes on LinkedIn and beBee and is the voice of the Red Diamonds Podcast.