Emotional Numbers

Janet Coburn
4 min readMay 14

What’s the relationship between mood and emotions? How is the mind involved? Is it even possible to sort them out?

These days, people talk a lot about one’s Emotional Quotient, or EQ, also known as emotional intelligence, or EI. EQ is defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Emotions are “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” Mood is “a temporary state of mind or feeling.” Obviously, the definitions overlap somewhat.

All of these terms are used by the general public. EQ is the currently popular term. You can find any number of “tests” online that claim to determine your EQ. Often these are phrased in terms of your “personality” and may refer to enneagrams or other psychological theories. Other searches revert back to showing you your IQ, even if you were looking for EQ tests. Many of them charge money to show you the results. I’m not interested enough in my EQ to spend the money, though I took one of the tests. I might ask my therapist if she has a handle on what my EQ might be. I’d be happy with a subjective evaluation such as Excellent, Good, Average, Poor, or Terrible. Anything more, like a circular chart with bright-colored segments, I believe I’ll pass.

How do EQ and IQ tests compare? Healthline says, “IQ tests measure your ability to solve problems, use logic, and grasp or communicate complex ideas. EQ tests measure your ability to recognize emotion in yourself and others, and to use that awareness to guide your decisions.” So, completely different things. A person with a high IQ could have a low EQ and vice versa.

So, what else do the experts say about the difference between moods and emotions? “Moods can last for hours while emotions last anywhere from seconds to minutes, at most.”

There I would disagree.

At least, I have an opinion. An emotion is something I feel for a defined amount of time, usually a short one. My husband and I disagree and I feel an emotion of annoyance. But it seldom lasts for mere seconds. It can dissipate within a minute or last for several hours, depending on when we talk it out.

Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at butidigress.blog and bipolarme.blog.