Colleen Gallagher: Emotional Intelligence; What It Is, Why It Is So Essential, And How We Can Increase It
By letting go of the toxic habits you’ve developed, you can begin to accept who you are and intoxicate the world with that, rather than the things that were preventing you from loving yourself, loving others, and making the world a better place.
As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Colleen Gallagher.
Colleen Gallagher is an intuitive business and personal development consultant, author of several books including her latest release An Uncompromised Life, survivor of childhood cancer and currently pursuing her Ph.D in Psychology with a focus on Global Leadership and Change. Her greatest success is seeing her clients fall in love with life by overcoming trauma and life challenges to create a lifestyle career that impacts the world. Colleen empowers leaders and businesses to come to a newfound clarity of their mission, so that they can better understand their gifts while taking calculated action to grow their businesses.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, from two parents who were attorneys. I was a tomboy when I was a little girl, preferring to be at the park with the guys playing basketball. Or I lived a dual life where I’d be in my room with my sippy cup. I used my sippy cup until the fifth grade; I know, a bit embarrassing. However, I’d be playing with my blanket lost in a daydream within our realms. It was almost as if the castles I’d be flying between were real, with bright, vivid colors. However, this part of my reality was behind closed doors; I never talked about it as a child.
To the outside world, I was a straight-A student who was wicked smart, socially awkward, a sports girl, and kind. It was always as if I lived my life in two parallel worlds, one within my mind, another within my imagination, but it felt so real to me; it was how I coped with feeling alone as a child. This separation or dual identity persisted throughout my life until around the age of 24, when I left the corporate world, became an author, and started my online education company Colleen Gallagher International.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
At age 14, I was running down the basketball court for a layup when I collapsed and couldn’t breathe. When I arrived at the hospital, I discovered that I had a significantly enlarged right thyroid that would require surgery to determine if it was cancer. After the surgery, I’d be on medication for the rest of my life, one pill a day, and if I ever wanted to get pregnant, I’d have to adjust my medication. It turned out to be cancer, and while I was fortunate enough to beat it, the experience was traumatic.
I saw the financial burdens placed on families with sick children while spending so much time in hospitals. This motivated me to pursue a career in sales because I knew I’d be able to make enough money to cover my expenses if I faced similar circumstances later in life. I found myself in a successful corporate sales career that I quickly realized was preventing me from living my true purpose. I had everything I ever wanted in terms of material possessions, but I was empty on the inside.
Because I saw so many children die from cancer, but I survived, I’ve always felt obligated to do more with my life. I’d always enjoyed helping others in shifting their mindset and stepping into their purpose, but I realized I wasn’t doing it for myself. So, I quit my corporate sales job and relocated to New Zealand, where I began my eight-month journey to find clarity on my purpose by practicing yoga and meditation four hours a day.
This is how I started my online education company Colleen Gallagher International where I empower business leaders and everyday people to offer and create lifestyles that people love. I take a holistic approach to coaching people on how to live a sustainably happy, healthy, and wealthy life. And I’ve never looked back: I now have a global online brand, over 20 online courses, a podcast, three books, a crystal line, an Oracle deck, a master’s degree, and am about to receive my Ph.D., all while influencing thousands of people every day.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I would probably say two people: Ivonne Delaflor and Katrina Ruth. These were two women I hired as mentors in various areas of my life, but they were really hired as my indirect executive team. They empowered me in terms of mindset, teaching me to connect inward with myself so that I could become empowered to make life-altering decisions. It’s difficult to share a story about what both have given in to my life because it’s so personal, intimate, and private. However, the story I’ll tell is that the people who are here to empower and help you are already in your network. These are powerful individuals who have been watching and observing you.
You want to find these people to whom you feel called and drawn and reach out to them, ask to speak with them and see if they will mentor you. You will sense that you and this person are meant to have a deep and meaningful relationship. As success does not come from money, it comes from having people around you who encourage you to believe in yourself, trust yourself, and support you through all the ups and downs you choose to go through. It’s important to have these people you can trust, who will hold you up because that is what will bring you success in all areas of your life because they will show you what a true relationship is meant to be. And true success only occurs through powerful and meaningful relationships.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
The worst mistake I made was hiring a woman from Australia to fly to the United States for $25,000 to do a photo shoot for me, which was a total disaster. I literally paid for an Australian woman to leave her country for the first time, fly to America, and do a terrible job. She misplaced her luggage, she was a total mess, and she used my photos to promote her work on Facebook without my permission. I mean, the whole thing was horrible, all for the sake of pleasing this mentor who tricked me into paying the $25,000 fee.
That was the dumbest mistake I ever made, but it taught me a lot about money and how we, in fact, vote with our dollars. Every dollar we give to something represents a vote for something or someone. I became much more selective about who and what I gave my money to. Before sending money to anyone, I asked a lot more questions because what they are involved in is what your money ends up funding.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Honestly, listen to the voices inside your head and do what you feel is right for you. There will be voices of doubt, fear, and worry, among other things. However, if you stick to what you know is right for you, the money will always come.
Even more importantly, not everyone deserves to hear your dreams. The Universe has given you your dreams for you and be careful who you share your dreams and desires with because many people cannot dream as big as you, so they will try to diminish your dreams. Share your dreams only with those who will encourage and motivate you to make them a reality. When you want to seek support, share your dreams with others; however, don’t sit around and debate your dreams with everyone; this will hold you back.
Finally, if someone tells you that this creation cannot happen, that it is not possible, let them go and start looking for the right person as soon as possible, to make your ideas and creativity happen.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I am biased, but my first book, Live Your Truth, changed my life because it inspired me to start living my truth and see how I could change the lives of others even though I was not in the same room, state, or country as them. This book inspired my company Colleen Gallagher International to grow into what it is today in such a short period of time, as it provided me with motivation to keep going, as I saw the more time I put into it, the more people I impacted. Also, I’ve been doing an episode a week for almost two years on my podcast, The Colleen Gallagher Podcast.
These mediums appealed to me because they allowed me to communicate with thousands of people all over the world within a matter of moments. Using social media, books, having a podcast guided me to see that other people out there struggled with what I struggled with. And, more importantly, I could see that other people wanted to do more than living a basic life; a lot of people wanted to see how they could use love to change the world. This was so powerful because these creations I physically brought into the world, like a mother giving birth to a child, and this was impacting so many people all while I was earning income. It has given me the gift of service while I am sleeping, traveling, or otherwise unavailable. This has changed my paradigm of becoming inspired over my lifetime to continue choosing to become a better, more expanded version of myself, so I can continue to create beautiful products into this world that change people’s lives.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Follow your heart so you can live every moment like it was your last moment.” When I was diagnosed with cancer, this became one of my favorite life lessons quotes because it inspired me to go out and live my life to the fullest. But I saw so many adults commit suicide in their careers and relationships because they were unhappy. This was the most painful thing for me to witness: knowing you lived a life that was untrue to you. I never want anyone to reach the end of their life feeling as if they never truly gave this life everything they had. We don’t know when that day will arrive, but we know it will. And I want everyone to know that they lived their lives the way they wanted to live them, with the people they wanted to share their lives with and made an impact on the world the way they believed they could.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am working on a television series I am unable to speak about because of an NDA, however, I’m very excited to be part of offering this into the world. This will help people because it will allow them to see they are not alone in their life journey, and I make myself very relatable to real-life everyday problems and how to begin creating them into a lifestyle career that will earn you money while impacting others.
My Ph.D. for my dissertation will be complete in 2023. I am very excited to bring a body of work around how to use the digital space for companies to educate consumers by connecting with them to increase online community and sales. This excites me as it will help corporations in transitioning to the virtual space and consumers still feel connected as in-person shopping will continue to decrease.
Lastly, my podcast, The Colleen Gallagher always excites me as I LOVE showing up for that podcast weekly and listening to the community on what they want me to talk about, their weekly engagement, as well as their own revelations. I want to have a podcast studio I can record from and add videos that I feel will guide people to feel more like they have a show to tune in and watch. As well as do a yearly meet-up for the community to come to meet and talk with each other. These are two things we are working on behind the scenes to launch at the end of 2022!
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority about Emotional Intelligence?
I am an authority about Emotional Intelligence as I have really devoted my life through cancer on learning how to listen to others beyond what their words are saying. I have learned through having cancer at age 14 and seeing other children die the emotional impact that has on families, the impact cancer has on children over a lifestyle, and this empowered me to see that cancer relates to all health issues and traumas that people go through. And throughout life everyone will experience at least one trauma of either someone passing, staying stuck in a job or relationship they hate.
From having cancer at such a young age, I was able to transfer this awareness of understanding what people are really feeling, learning to ask the right questions, to bring people to share an answer that will transform their life. I have showed I am an authority in emotional intelligence through the results of having a multiple six figure business, the results of my clients earning money, leaving their job, creating amazing relationships, to all the products I’ve created in a short amount of time.
The results I’ve done in 3.5 years haven’t been completed very frequently in business and life this is largely because of my intuitive nature and emotional intelligence and being able to guide others to feel good, trust themselves, and create epic results in life. I frequently assist my clients in better understanding their emotions as they relate to their own experiences and in navigating their emotions. Furthermore, I provide a free training called How to Access the Five Keys to Unlock Your Destiny.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?
Emotions are energy in motion (E-Motion). Emotional Intelligence is the ability to master what energy is in motion within you to better manage yourself and your reactions to others. Many people define emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive others emotionally. However, we can never truly know what is going on inside someone else’s head.
How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?
No matter how much psychological training we have, people have become so good at lying to themselves and what is going on within them because as children, they had no choice but to accept their circumstances and show emotion to receive love and attention. True emotional intelligence is becoming a master of your feelings and emotions and acting from an empowered position to move you and those around you forward.
Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Emotional Intelligence is so important because most people are victims to their emotions. What I mean by this is people feel emotion and allow the energy in motion to overtake them and unleash that unto every person, instead of becoming empowered where you begin to control your emotions.
An example of this is when someone honks at you or rudely cuts you off when you are walking, and you have two options to honk back, yell back, feel frustrated, and unleash onto that person, or get home and begin to gossip or let that situation consume you. This is being emotionally unintelligent because you’ve allowed a total stranger to overtake your life, body, and mind emotionally. Whereas emotional Intelligence is sitting back and going, wow, that person must be angry or having a bad day, I silently send them a hug and wish them peace. Then you let it go, never bringing it up again.
When anyone around you or your environment no longer dictates your emotions, you become self-empowered. In every moment in our life, we are either leasing our power away by giving our emotions to other people or are becoming empowered to choose how we desire to feel and act from this place. There is nothing more powerful in life than being able to master yourself and hold your own power to magnetize all your desire within your reality.
Would you feel comfortable sharing a story or anecdote about how Emotional Intelligence has helped you in your life? We would love to hear about it.
Emotional Intelligence has helped me in many ways by not being reactive when things do not go according to plan. So, if you have a business meeting and someone does not show up, there is a problem with the technology, or someone on the team does something that causes a shipping job to be messed up. I used to get worked up if things didn’t go exactly as planned, but now that I own my power and master my emotions, I can see that there is always a lesson or message being birthed through “things not going as planned.” This has allowed my emotions to be calmer rather than heightened. Because intelligence suffers when emotions are high.
Another anecdote of how Emotional Intelligence has helped me as I used to get so mad and frustrated in relationships. I’d be quick to pass judgment and argue. I realized that whenever I did this at work or in personal relationships, I would quickly end or walk away from them. This was never good for either my business or my personal relationships. I began to understand the importance of pausing and breathing before acting on emotion, which transformed my life. I didn’t act on negative or toxic emotions. I acted from a place of peace, calm, and understanding that everything that happens in our lives has a great lesson to teach us.
Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?
As I alluded to in the question above, success in business is largely determined by your network, which is made up of your relationships. People will betray you in business, things will go wrong, and you will have more failures that will propel you to success. However, you must begin to learn how to manage and navigate your emotions because you will encounter a wide range of emotions during your time in business. You must learn to recognize when you are conversing with someone who may betray you and to be okay with it. You must develop the emotional intelligence to trust your intuition and inner guidance system over what the outside world tells you to do. You must learn how to recognize when someone is loyal and what you can offer someone in terms of career advice. To achieve success, it is necessary to learn how to hold these various emotions and to be intelligent about how, when, and why you express them so that it is not just for your release of emotion and to be heard, but for the greatest good of everyone’s development through your business solutions and ideas.
In practical terms, this can look like pausing before responding to an email or picking up the phone. This can manifest as not responding to a text or email for 24 hours, or at all. “Hey everyone, I need to pause right now and go take a breather — let’s resume the meeting in 5 minutes,” for example. It is recognizing when your emotions are high and pausing so you can act from a calm place rather than a high emotional state.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?
In both business and personal relationships, people frequently want to blame the other person. So, you did this or acted like this, the measurements were incorrect, the client did not provide the correct file, and so on. Having emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is to start observing what language people use when blaming the other person. Because you did this, I am sad. You didn’t follow through, and so on. Because what is happening is that someone is sharing the essence of the problem rather than the emotion conveyed through the words. If someone says, “You didn’t follow through,” the problem is that they don’t feel supported or they feel let down.
The emotional intelligence would begin to look at where the system or process was mis regulated or not provided, resulting in someone failing to show up or follow-through, causing someone else to be disappointed. If someone says, “Well, you did or didn’t do this, or I feel sad,” this is another sign of a system breakdown. Did someone know they were supposed to do x, y, and z? Was it written down, was there an agreement between two people, or was it unspoken and assumed because someone did something once, it would now be done that way every time?
If someone was sad, it’s important to understand why that happened and what can be done to create a plan of action for a change of action so that things can move more cohesively together. This is the art of emotional intelligence because you are listening to the words rather than the emotions, which guides us to see where there is a breakdown in the process or system so that we can improve it.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?
Your mental health is heavily influenced by how aware you are of the feelings you have when you’re doing things throughout your life and day. The more you can begin to see the emotions you have behind the actions you’re doing you will largely increase your mental healthy by seeing if you're forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do, or if you’re allowing yourself to live a life that makes you feel alive and well.
It’s learning that we all experience a wide range of emotions, but the art is having a practice that works for us to move the emotions through us so we can walk around with a clear mind or know how to change the state we’re within a matter of moments to hours. Beginning to communicate with your body, the various emotions you experience, and developing a practice to feel your emotions and know how to alchemize them will optimize your mental health.
A few ways to move through an emotion are to dance, move your body through it, open your mouth and just scream it out (I do this frequently throughout the day), lay on your bed and punch your pillows, and for anxiety, begin to sit, breathe in, and breathe out “voo.” These are known as embodiment practices, and they allow emotion to move through and out of you so that you can return to a balanced state within your body and mind.
Ok. Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you recommend five things that anyone can do to develop a greater degree of Emotional Intelligence? Please share a story or example for each.
- One of my favorite exercises from my first six-week program, Create Your Fairytale Life, is to write down in your calendar for one week what you do every single day, from waking up, brushing your teeth, driving in traffic, your job, grocery shopping, and so on. Then, next to that, write down how you feel while participating in this activity. Most people are surprised and overwhelmed by how frequently they do things that make them feel meh, depleted, stressed as if it’s a waste of time as if there is no other way to live than forcing yourself to do these things that make you unhappy just to function in life. This allows you to become aware of the emotions you are experiencing most of the time, and then I share with you how you can outsource, transform your schedule, or replace the things you dislike doing. So, instead of living a life filled with activities that do not bring you joy, you empower yourself to fill your schedule with activities that will make you feel good. My first example is that I despise rush hour and driving during it. So, when I worked in a corporate job, I would come in at 6 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m., allowing me to avoid rush hour. I got to do my morning and evening yoga, as well as other things I enjoy. My boss didn’t mind because I was still exceeding my sales targets. This changed my life and eventually gave me the energy to start looking into how I could live a freedom lifestyle because instead of feeling depleted from sitting in rush hour, I changed my schedule so that I felt better and had more energy, allowing me to finally pursue my dreams. That is emotional intelligence because you are aware of yourself and are empowering yourself to feel good.
- Second, practice becoming aware of how your body reacts in specific situations, as this will guide you when to leave certain environments and where to place yourself more. For example, when my body shrinks, my shoulders inward, I become colder, my mind wanders, and people talk but my ears don’t pick up on what they’re saying. When I notice this happening in meetings, at dinners, or when I’m with friends, I know it’s an indication from my body that the emotions that are within me and being shared around me are contracting rather than expanding me. When I’m doing something, I enjoy, like writing this interview, time flies by. It’s as if I get 50 things done in one hour and wonder how that happened; my posture is great, my mind is clear, I’m focused, and my energy is limitless. This is another way to start understanding emotional intelligence of how your body responds to the environments you put yourself in, so you can start putting yourself in environments that expand you rather than contract you. I share an example of this in my third book, An Uncompromised Life. I was in an unhealthy relationship, and when he called, my friends would notice that my body shrank or that I turned inward to hug myself because I was so uncomfortable. This happened, however, because my body knew that this relationship was emotionally unhealthy for me at the time, and this is when I learned that the body is always speaking to us and does not lie, even if we lie to ourselves through our minds and words. When I realized this more and more consistently, I saw my body as a tool and instrument that I would use to guide me to see what environments I needed to be in more frequently, and my life began to change dramatically. As I no longer forced myself to participate in situations that I knew would drain me.
- Three, to improve your personal emotional intelligence, mantras must become an important part of your daily life. When you speak, you cause a sound vibration throughout your body. So, when you say, “I despise this” or “I’m furious with that,” etc. Your body picks up on the vibration of what you’re saying. Begin repeating mantras like “I am powerful and handle things with grace, ease, and calm” to improve your emotional intelligence. I’m in love with myself. I am a strong creator. I’m always right where I need to be. I believe in myself. Everything is happening right on time.” When we begin to use mantras daily, we allow ourselves to become aware and mindful of the vibrations we are sending through our bodies. Instead of saying, “I am depressed to share,” say, “I am experiencing feelings of depression and/or anxiety that I want to release.” If you stop right now and repeat those two phrases or mantras, you will notice a significant improvement in your physical and mental state. One feels heavy, while the other feels like, “I’ve got this, I can do this.” When I was healing from the loss of my child and an unhealthy relationship, I would tell myself, “I am happy, I deserve to be happy, I love myself, everything is going to be okay,” and before I knew it, I was back to who I was meant to be. I was happy, I had healthy relationships, I let go of relationships that didn’t serve me, and my business started to grow.
- Four, start a journaling practice in which you write every day about who you want to be in the present tense. Say that I am mentally well, healed, whole, and peaceful, that I trust myself, that I allowed myself to be guided and that I trust the guidance, that I release mental illness, that I release feelings of depression, that I release people, places, and things that no longer serve me, that I believe I am fully supported in this life, that I feel very connected to those around me instead of isolated, and so on. When you start writing out these statements, you are using your entire body’s muscle memory to write letters. As a result, our bodies begin to remember writing and thinking in a different way. Instead of reacting to life situations based on emotions from our natural current state of feeling unwell, journaling moves the body through writing to create a new muscle memory of reaction to life events. For example, when I felt like I didn’t have any money or that my business was stressing me out, as I started doing things with larger numbers like $5,000, $10,000, or $100,000. This kind of money terrified me, and it made me mentally ill because I felt like I was always going to be behind on my bills and in business. Then one day, I started writing every day. I love knowing that I am well, that I am calm, and that I am receiving $20,000 in cash every day. And within a few weeks of doing so, I received my first full payment of nearly $36,000. And it was at this point that I realized the significance of my emotional state of being in a state of belief that things are going well for me right now. And this shifted my paradigm about mental health because if I could change my mindset about money and feeling safe, I could certainly change my mindset about any life experience I was going through. It wasn’t just me saying this; it was me writing what I wanted my life to be in the present tense every day.
- Five, what you absorb has a big impact on your emotional intelligence. I recommend looking at your social media, television channels you’ve saved to watch, and what the last five phone conversations were in your phone log. You’ll see it is unsurprising that if the people around you are talking about being depressed, living in a dark world, the state of the world, watching war games, not having money, expecting, and demanding things from you, you will absorb and feel their emotions. This is what your mental state will become if you are constantly exposed to and listening to positive affirmations, enlightening conversations about healing, growth, business, and empowerment. For example, when I was in high school, I used to watch Bad Girls Clubs, Jersey Shore, and other shows, so I always mirrored relationships that were crazy, drama-filled, and so on. However, after traveling to New Zealand at the age of 23, I began listening to Gaia television, doing yoga daily, and so on, and my mindset became more peaceful. Everything you hear is absorbed within you, either to improve your emotional intelligence or to make you more dramatic and emotionally unwell.
Do you think our educational system can do a better job at cultivating Emotional Intelligence? What specific recommendations would you make for schools to help students cultivate Emotional Intelligence?
Absolutely, because when I was in school, there was no mention of emotional intelligence. There was no discussion about how to deal with bullying or mean comments, nor was there any discussion about how to self-regulate your nervous system. I believe that, just as there is a gym class, there should be an emotional intelligence class. This would teach children why not to take bullying or hurtful words to heart. I also believe that discussing how social media and the digital world influence our emotions is a topic that can be covered in this curriculum so that children do not believe that everything they see online is how the world truly is. I believe that having a class like this would empower children to see how important their emotions are in becoming empowered and taking control of their lives, rather than allowing every minor inconvenience to bother them, and allowing hurtful comments to be something that makes a child feel they did something wrong.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Based on my first book, Live Your Truth, the movement I would start in the world would be to intoxicate the world with love. An intoxicator is someone who looks within, removes the toxicity, and becomes what is left — their truth. I believe we will continue to live in fear until we learn how to remove the fear of being rejected, mocked, or kicked out of a community, among other things. By letting go of the toxic habits you’ve developed, you can begin to accept who you are and intoxicate the world with that, rather than the things that were preventing you from loving yourself, loving others, and making the world a better place.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
I think Evan Williams, the former CEO of Twitter, and Medium, would be someone I’d love to have a private breakfast with, as he gets the importance of connecting people through digital platforms, creating a new way to receive news from real people instead of traditional news. He also understands the importance of an organic community and how to cultivate it. He has offered people an option to decide how they want to engage with information, share it, and be their own thought-leaders in creating and designing their lives. I’d like to sit with him and see where he sees the future of digital news and information playing a role in community building and connection as we transition into a technology-focused world.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.