The importance of emotions: Part 2 

Welcome to part two! In part one, we answered three questions; 1) what are emotions? 2) Why are they so important? & 3) What are primary vs. Secondary emotions? In this part two, we will address how to identify emotions and needs. I want to give a little reminder that this is something that can be practiced, learned, and developed! It is completely okay not to know how to do this instinctively.  

How to identify your emotions and needs?  

You will probably hear a lot of people say that you need to cope with your emotions. I prefer saying that we need to be with our emotions. Being with our emotions, making a conscious effort to feel them and sit with them, will then allow you to identify them. If doing that is difficult, I suggest that you try using a tool to help, such as the wheel of emotions: 

There are two ways to use the wheel :  

1- Start at the centre, pick what you are feeling (ex: anger) and take a look at the different types of anger that we can tend to feel (go towards the extremity of the wheel).  

2 – Start at the extremity (ex: you feel empty) and work your way to the middle of the wheel to see what emotion is tied to it (ex: sad).  

I also suggest that you look at other emotions (ex: if you feel angry, go take a look at fear, sadness, etc.) to identify primary vs. secondary emotions.  

Lastly, keep in mind that this tool brings you into a more cognitive type of processing, so it is important to go back to sitting with your feelings once you have identified what they are (see how they feel in your body).  

Additionally, it is important to identify your needs at the root of the emotions and feelings you have. For example, we have identified that your primary emotion is abandonment. You can then ask yourself : “what do I need (from myself or from the other) to not feel abandoned?”. Once you have identified your need, you can then communicate that to the other person involved. Identifying this is important as it optimizes healthy well-being and optimizes healthy relationship with others.  

Dr. Mélodie Brown, D.Psy., C.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and co-founder of CFIR (St. Catharines). She offers psychotherapy for adult individuals and couples & psychodiagnostics assessments for adult individuals, in French and English. She also provides clinical supervision for students who are completing their masters or doctorate degrees in counselling/clinical psychology. 

The importance of emotions: Part 1

In this 2-part blog, four key questions about emotions will be answered. We will talk about what emotions are, why they are important, the difference between primary and secondary emotions and how to identify emotions and needs. This is something that most of us do not learn growing up as there is usually no class in school on this topic or education from parents, and so I am excited to share this wonderful knowledge with you! 

What are emotions? 

The American Psychology Association (APA, 2022) defines emotions as “conscious mental reactions subjectively experienced as strong feelings usually directed towards a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioural changes in the body” (APA, 2022). I like to think of emotions as little messengers – our brain and body sending us a message on something that is happening in our world. This goes for comfortable and uncomfortable emotions – as much as we don’t like to feel uncomfortable emotions, they are as important.  

Why are emotions important? 

As mentioned above, we usually don’t like to feel uncomfortable emotions. They are, however, a part of life and very important to pay attention to. We will all feel them at some point in time, and that is totally okay! Emotions are extremely important as they can help us understand how we feel about a situation or a person, communicate with others, act quickly in urgent situations, identify when we need to set boundaries, identify unmet needs, process situations, and much more! In order to accomplish this, it is very important that we learn to identify what we are feeling, differentiate between root feelings and secondary feelings, as well as our needs. 

What are Primary vs. Secondary emotions? 

A primary emotion is the feeling at the root of our reaction and a secondary emotion is an emotional reaction to an emotion or situation. For example, often when I meet with couples in therapy I will hear one partner say something like “my partner makes me so angry!”. When we sit with this anger, we will realize that there is something underneath it, something deeper. Often, we find out that the person is feeling hurt, or abandoned or not seen or heard. In this situation, the primary emotion would be feeling abandoned for example, and the secondary emotion would be anger. The person is angry that they are feeling abandoned. When feeling an emotion, it is always important to sit with it and see what is really there – identify the primary vs. the secondary emotion. Doing so will then help you identify what you need, to feel better. 

Part two of this blog will look at how to identify emotions and needs.  

Dr. Mélodie Brown, D.Psy., C.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and co-founder of CFIR (St. Catharines). She offers psychotherapy for adult individuals and couples & psychodiagnostics assessments for adult individuals, in French and English. She also provides clinical supervision for students who are completing their masters or doctorate degrees in counselling/clinical psychology.

Tap into Rich Emotional Intelligence data and see the possibilities this insight can offer your workforce!

What if you could conduct an Emotional Intelligence audit in your company? What types of changes could you influence based on the results? What core improvements could your organization implement in order to reach and positively affect more employees? Want a healthy organization that achieves high levels of success? Tap into the key insights that an emotional assessment provides you and your employees.

Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that guide the way we perceive and express ourselves, cultivate and maintain social relationships, assess change, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

It is important in your work life to communicate effectively by using emotional data to better understand how your message is being interpreted and send more meaningful information about your intentions in meetings and with team leadership.

Not just for leaders, EI assessments provide immediate insights on how individuals are coping, creating and maintaining relationships, self-awareness and empathy, employing decision making styles and more.

As a certified EQ-i 2.0 assessment provider, we offer robust EI leader, individual and 360 assessment tools. Employees gain new insight and actionable takeaways from EI data. It speaks volumes about what workforce the organization supports and what type of community they want to foster.

Those results could be further developed with leadership coaching and or career counselling to enhance core areas that might need more skill development.

EQ-i 2.0 is an online accessed, self-administered assessment and takes up to 20 minutes to complete. The report is processed and delivered by a certified EQ-i specialist who assists the participant or organization team with interpretation, goal setting and follow-up analysis derived from the EQ-i data.

Key Features are:

  • Total EI score with five composite scores measuring distinct aspects of emotional and social functioning
  • Deeper understanding of how the results affect a participant’s performance (conflict resolution, change management, teamwork, decision making and leadership)
  • Make instant connections between subscales, forming decisions based on EI strengths and potential to improve EI weaknesses
  • A Well-Being Indicator to measure your participant’s level of happiness; resulting in additional developmental opportunities
  • Reporting designed with results-driven content and insights for action

As a career strategist, Erin Leslie provides career counselling service as well as the Career & Vocational Assessment Service at CFIR; certified in EQ-i 2.0 to compliment one-on-one coaching tailored specifically to individual client needs and corporate training on emotional intelligence development for teams and leaders.

What Kind of Role Does Emotional Intelligence Play?

 by: Dr. Meg Aston-Lebold, C.Psych

Intelligence has traditionally been defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. We often see it represented by an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score. However, there is growing research indicating that emotions also play an influential role in learning. For centuries, philosophers have contemplated intelligence as more complex than cognitive capacity: 

“All learning has an emotional base.”


In response to this missing piece, the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been suggested as a complement to traditional IQ and, as such, has been affectionately dubbed EQ. While there is some controversy about how to measure EQ, it is commonly thought to describe a few key skills:

  • Emotional Awareness: the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and their impact on others.
  • Emotional Regulation: the ability to manage one’s own emotions, for example, by calming oneself down or cheering oneself up.
  • Empathy: the ability to recognize and respond to another person’s emotions.
  • Emotion Application: the ability to use one’s emotions to help guide tasks, such as thinking and problem-solving.

Well-developed emotional intelligence may lead to improved performance and satisfaction in a variety of life areas, including mood, self-confidence, and interpersonal relationships. Competence in emotional regulation allows people to remain calm and collected in stressful environments or situations and allows the brain to remain in a state conducive to effective problem-solving. 

In contrast, poorly developed emotional intelligence may lead to relationship dissatisfaction; general feelings of malaise or distress with seemingly no cause; as well as physical ailments like muscle aches, headaches and stomach/digestion discomfort that seem to have no medical basis.

While many of us may admit to the benefits of emotional intelligence in our relationships, we do not commonly value emotional intelligence in the workplace. This is a mistake. EQ competencies can help you approach an impending deadline with an organized plan, effectively respond to conflicts with co-workers or supervisors, and figure out how to get people on your side, whether that’s by motivating workers or getting buy-in from new clients. 

Without effective EQ at work, you may find yourself blaming others, lashing out, or having difficulty asserting yourself. This could potentially lead to negative consequences for yourself or others.

We are not born with EQ and, while these skills may come more naturally to some, we all must learn how to understand and respond to our own and others’ emotions. But since emotions aren’t part of the traditional school curriculum, how do we figure it out? In ideal circumstances, we learn emotional intelligence from significant adult role models in our early years. 

Unfortunately, not everyone grows up in an ideal environment where their caregivers have their own well-developed EQ. As a result, emotional intelligence often gets stunted, leaving the individual unable to articulate feelings, easily overwhelmed, unable to trust their gut, or wondering why their relationships remain shallow and unfulfilling. 

Psychotherapy can help you learn to recognize, make sense of, and respond to your emotional needs. By exploring your inner world, you can feel more competent responding to challenging interpersonal interactions, managing your stress, and obtain the healthy and satisfying relationships that you may have struggled with. These skills will help you both personally and professionally. Becoming more emotionally competent will help get you out of that rut by improving your mood and relationships, which can ultimately lead to greater productivity and success in all areas of your life.

Dr. Meg Aston-Lebold, C.Psych. is a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Toronto. She provides psychological assessment and treatment services to adults and couples experiencing a wide range of issues related to depression, anxiety and stress, self-esteem, trauma, and relationships.

Motivation vs. Intention: Do You Lack the Drive to Set Personal or Professional Goals?

by: Erin Leslie, EQ-i Certified | Coach

Are you confused about how to bring about motivation vs. intention? It’s not uncommon to be confused about these difficulties. In our modern society, messages intended to distract us are everywhere. Sometimes these messages try to persuade us to buy into a fad or product. Getting you onto that conveyor belt of attempting to acquire and invest time and money, only to be unfulfilled in the end but to repeat the same cycle. 

Many people today tell me they are unmotivated at work and feel they’ve lost their career direction. More employees than you may think are feeling tired by the daily churn, and they don’t know how to change it! When I meet with them, I typically ask some key questions to see where the lack of interest lies. 

  • Is it due to personal distractions with family or friends?
  • Is it relationship-related issues with team or management?
  • Is it due to pre-existing beliefs or concepts that may need to be renewed?
  • Could it be depression? Have you sought professional consultation?

After some analysis, I find that it is not that many people necessarily lack motivation, but rather have difficulties with intention.

Purpose provides the compass that fuels our minds and bodies to move in a specific direction. Now how do we go about finding purpose? 

It’s quite simple.

I share two important methods of finding intention.

First, volunteer. Don’t think about it; do it. Go out this weekend and find a school, religious organization, municipal supporting event, or service and give your time. 

Volunteering allows your mind to stop focusing on itself. It opens up your thinking towards others and helps you care about an external problem that you may not have considered before. 

Volunteerism exposes you to areas of risk and need in your community and gets you instantly thinking – how can I change some aspect of this outcome into a more positive one? How can I improve the lives of others?

It also gives you the purest sense of intention. Helping, caring, and enabling another human is our foremost purpose. But we forget that sometimes.

Volunteering enhances your beliefs about what is important. It doesn’t require a lot of time or thinking. It requires you to feel and act. That renewed sense of purpose fuels your intention towards your future. 

Secondly, mentorship. I suggest entering a mentorship relationship with a peer or colleague. Mentorship allows us to focus our attention on another person’s inquiry, leveraging our own experience and knowledge to solve a problem and focus away from our own pain points. People find it highly satisfactory to support others ahead of themselves. Still, it is through an interaction of mentoring and helping that often we find the answers to our issues. 

I often say that everyone should mentor as we all have something to offer and learn in this enriching professional relationship. 

Do you specialize in a specific skill set, industry insight, or business strategy or methodology? Someone within or outside your professional circle is looking for guidance, and it only takes a few meetings a month to connect and follow up on a specific area of interest or need. Those meetings could make a real difference in a professional’s work-life. 

Are you ready to better understand and master the mental and emotional parts of striving for a successful career and a balanced life? CFIR’s Career and Workplace Service can help! 

Three Key Tips All Women Need to Apply Now in Their Professional Lives

As the saying goes ‘Natural Born Leader’ women have been supporting organizations in leading roles across many diverse industries globally. 

Associate of CFIR’s Career & Workplace Service, Erin Leslie, share three essential tips all women need to apply now in their professional lives and when seeking that next level role: 

1. When looking for key roles make sure to take into account lifestyle preferences and balances that give time for you to look after yourself and your loved ones. Don’t just accept the next leadership role because it means you will have the title and responsibility. You need time to be mindful of your own needs and healthy approach to re-energizing.

2. Do you hear yourself saying “I can’t apply on that job” because you think you don’t fill 80% of the job posting criteria? Stop self-doubt now! Do you like the position description? Great! Now, look at how your past experience can contribute and build the narrative around how your experience makes you the ideal candidate for the job. 

3. Be mindful about negative energy and the impacts it has on your stress levels and body. There are times when we catch ourselves judging a project or adverse performance/outcomes without having all the facts. Remember that you never know what people are genuinely going through in their lives that would cause professional impacts on their work. Be supportive and an active listener. You may uncover some key insights to help move the situation back onto a successful pathway. 

Thank someone today for their professional services and happy International Women’s Day.

Are you ready to expand on your journey into professional leadership? Request to meet with Erin through CFIR’s Career and Workplace Service.