Processes in Terms of Format, Independence of Emotional Abilities, Mechanism, and Content

Clearly distinguishable themes emerged from the data in terms of format (i.e., curvilinear vs. linear effects), independence of emotional abilities (i.e., do individual experiences reflect the sequential logic of the ability EI model?), mechanisms (e.g., cognitive transformation of emotion elicitors), and contents (i.e., conscious vs. subconscious). Note that these themes, despite the need to distinguish them, are nevertheless often related, as highlighted below.


The lived experiences of several participants were often inconsistent with the linear logic of EI, which almost exclusively assumes positive and linear relationships between EI and important life outcomes. That is, it became evident that sometimes processing emotional information was engaged in too much, or participants could not stop thinking about particular events, which was perceived as an annoyance. In terms of excessive thinking, for instance, Terry said that he “probably worries too much about things over which [he has] got no control.” In a similar vein, on being asked whether she has a tendency to worry or ruminate, Marie stated:

I think I do that ... too much. I think about things a lot ... I’m probably a bit

paranoid ... I over-analyze things all the time. I wake up in the night thinking about

things, write them down. It’s everything in my life, that’s not just work.

Sally made similar suggestions. When asked whether she has a propensity to ruminate, she responded that she “tick(s) that box every time” and that she “chew(s) over things a lot.” An inability to stop thinking thoughts that are emotionally draining emerged from the account of Leanne. Following an outline of numerous events that she currently has to organize or attend to, I raised the question whether the planning worries or agitates her, or whether it is a positive agitation. Her response was she has “a nervous energy probably that [she] get(s) a bit hyper,” but also that she “can’t switch off sometimes.”

By contrast, when asked whether he has a tendency to worry excessively, Murray was quick to respond that “worry, no ... it’s not in [his] genes,” a statement that was accompanied by what might be described as hysterical laughter. A very similar storyline was shared by David, who noted that he can only worry about things when they arise, not when they are imagined future situations, adding that “if you go over it in your mind all the time — you can plan and that is a good thing — but to over-plan” was not regarded as helpful.

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