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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca Valentini

Transform Your Relationships: Master Emotional Intelligence in Love and Frienship

Ever wished you could handle tough relational conflicts with more calm, compassion, or happiness? Everything you need is to become a keen observer.

Let me show you how with a story about two friends and roommates, Manuela and Clara, whose beliefs shape their reactions to the same event.


Clara, prone to quick bursts of anger, finds herself infuriated when her friend Manuela leaves the kitchen a little dirty after hosting dinner guests. In a fit of frustration, Clara explodes, projecting her anger towards her roommate. Manuela has trouble managing her friend’s anger and, feeling deeply hurt by her reaction, retreats in tears to her room, avoiding all contact with Clara for over a week and secretly looking for a new room to rent.

But what if I told you that Clara's and Manuela's reactions weren't inevitable? That another person might have responded entirely differently to the same situation? This realization unveils the crux of the matter: it's not the event itself—the messy kitchen or the angry outburst—that triggers Clara's rage or Manuela's sadness and defiance. Rather, it's their interpretation of these events.


Imagine looking into Clara's mind and hearing her unconscious thoughts. They might echo emotions of neglect and unimportance: "I don't matter to Manuela, and my needs are always overlooked." This is the internal narrative that fuels her anger.

Conversely, Manuela's inner dialogue might present beliefs of constant failure and disappointment: "I always mess things up; I constantly let Clara down." This narrative spirals her into sadness and defensiveness.


A simple dirty kitchen turns out to be one of the worst fights in their friendship. But how is that even possible? What are the psychological components that trigger such a drama?

Here is how it works: our inner beliefs shape how we see reality (interpretation), which in turn defines how we feel about it (emotional response), which finally define how we are going to react (behavior). Understanding this interplay is key to mastering our reactions to life's challenges.

To summarize it:

Let’s try to break down this concept further with another example, the one of James and Nicole. I will use the above-mentioned structure to help you see clearer how we move from one step to another.



James and Nicole, a couple deeply in love, are preparing for a romantic dinner at home. James, meticulous and organized, carefully sets the table with candles and flowers, while Nicole, creative and spontaneous, whips up a delicious meal in the kitchen. As they sit down to enjoy their dinner, James notices that Nicole forgot to buy his favorite wine, which he was looking forward to pairing with the meal. What happens now in James' head?


Step 1: James’ belief starts kicking in

James’ limiting beliefs revolve around the need for control and perfection. He has an underlying fear of things not going according to plan and believes that any deviation from his expectations is a sign of incompetence or lack of care from others. This belief stems from a perceived lack of care and presence of his mother as a child.


Step 2: James’ belief fuels his interpretation of the situation

As James realizes the missing wine, his mind “connects the dots” based on his very personal and subjective beliefs. His immediate conclusion is that Nicole doesn't pay attention to his preferences or, even worse, doesn't care enough about his happiness.


Step 3: James reacts emotionally to his interpretation

Since he interprets Nicole’s forgetfulness as a personal affront, his emotional response can only be negative, feeling hurt and disappointed.


Step 4: James’ emotional response is accompanied by a specific behavior

James feels hurt and disappointed. His anger builds and he cannot hide it anymore, leading to a tense atmosphere at the dinner table, and soon after, a nasty fight.

And what about Nicole?

Nicole, on the other hand, picks up on James’ cues of displeasure and feels a pang of guilt and inadequacy. The reason for this emotional reaction lies in her childhood, since she so often perceived the disappointment of her father towards her. This is why she interprets James’ reaction as a sign that she has failed to meet his expectations and begins to withdraw emotionally, feeling rejected and unappreciated. Instead of addressing the issue directly, she becomes defensive, retreating into silence and avoiding eye contact.


Let's exercise together now!

In order to become more skilled at noticing your own beliefs and reactions, try here to break down Nicole’s reaction in a structured way, using clear and concise sentences. You can use this template for your own practice:


Step 1: Nicole’s limiting belief is…


Step 2: Her interpretation of James’ reaction is…


Step 3: Nicole’s emotional reaction is…


Step 4: Given her emotional state, her subsequent behavior is…


In both examples of Clara and Manuela, and James and Nicole, their beliefs have shaped their interpretations of the situation, leading to feelings of anger, hurt, disappointment, guilt, and defensiveness. This, in turn, affects their communication and emotional connection, creating tension and distance in their relationship. I am sure you, too, have gone through a similar situation many times in your life already.


To break free from this cycle, all of our protagonists above must (1) recognize, (2) challenge their limiting beliefs, and finally (3) learn new skills that are useful to detach or unhook him from such strong, negative thoughts. For instance, with the help of a therapist or a psychological counsellor, James can learn to let go of his need for control and perfection, understanding that mistakes are inevitable and don't diminish his worth or Nicole’s love for him. Nicole as well can learn to detach from her triggering beliefs of unworthiness and fault, training in open communication and assertiveness, expressing her feelings and needs without fear of disappointing others and of rejection.

In the same way, by addressing their inner beliefs and fostering a more compassionate and understanding mindset, even Clara and Manuela can strengthen their bond and create a friendship built on mutual respect, empathy, and love.


If you are new to this practice, I advise you to start from the template above. Take 5 minutes every day to write down the analysis of one situation that triggered you that day. The situation you describe does not need to be complex or dramatic. Choose something simple to start from, as our beliefs encompass every aspect of our lives, from the way we relate to others to the way we make decisions.


For personalized support, consider consulting a therapist or a psychological counsellor to help you navigate and transform your emotional responses more effectively.

If you'd like to book an appointment with me, I offer a free 15min consultation to get to know each other and your needs. You can book it here:

I wish you a life full of deep and meaningful relationships!


You want to learn more? Here you have some inspirational literature:


·  Tolle, Eckhart. (1997). The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. New World Library.

·  Levine, Amir & Heller, Rachel. (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love. TarcherPerigee.

·  Dweck, Carol S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House.

·  Stahl, Stefanie. (2019). The Child in You: The Breakthrough Method for Bringing Out Your Authentic Self. Penguin Books.

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