Oyinkansola Alabi : Giving Beauty for Ashes
Words by – Josephine Agbonkhese
Lead researcher and facilitator at Emotions City, Africa’s leading Centre for Emotional Intelligence, Oyinkansola Alabi, popularly known as Emotions Doctor, is a productivity enhancement and life validation strategist.
The Cornell University-trained Human Resource Executive who holds a Master’s in Psychology and a PhD in Behavioural Psychology, specialises in helping individuals, achievers, and organisations increase performance using emotional intelligence tools and proprietary methodologies.
A woman of many firsts, she is the first female founder of an Emotional Intelligence Academy in Africa, the convener of Africa’s first Emotional Intelligence Week, and the first African to attend the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence.
An associate member of the Women in Management, Business and Public Life, WIMBIZ; Forbes Business Council; the American Psychological Association; the British Psychological Society and the International Coaching Federation, the Six Seconds Network Licensed Emotional Intelligence Practitioner and Assessor is a recipient of several prestigious awards.
In this interview with Allure, she speaks on her work, goals, style, and sheds light on her latest projects.
Why Emotional Intelligence and what led you into this unusual career path?
Emotional Intelligence is the headquarters of all intelligences— mental intelligence, spiritual intelligence and financial intelligence. When your emotions and your mental health break down, then it would affect every other branch and intelligence that resides under it and in it. So, this unusual career path is very interesting because I am consumed by the passion to help people be emotionally stable, and to be emotionally stable in an unstable world. I do this for everyone. I have a client base in 30 countries and I am passionate about Africans because Africans must save Africans. That is the reason why I embarked on this journey of emotional stability.
Was the title’Emotions Doctor’ self-acclaimed or given?
The title ‘Emotions Doctor’ is a very interesting one. Number one, I was awarded a PhD in Behavioural Psychology. Number two, the Emotions Doctor is the capacity that I work and what my clients call me because of the results that I have delivered to them. So, the title is very personal, prophetic and intentional because to whom much is given, much is expected.
What was the acceptance like when you first came into practice?
Like every other thing, you move from a place of suspicion to trust and people have a right to suspect you because they want to know your intentions. They want to know your solutions. They want to know your depth. They want to know what drives you and all of that. So yes, they have a right to suspect you. But we are at the level of trust; we are at the level where they now see me as an Oracle, as a consultant, as the industry. So, I am not the industry leader. I am the industry and I have come to prove and to let them know by passion, by compassion, by empathy, and by results, what we’ve achieved, who we are, and what we intend to do, more and more.
We live in Africa where counsellors are rarely visited; on a scale of 1-10, how would you say your professional service is being required daily?
Mental health service is meant to be a part of your life. But ironically, people will tell you they get in trouble or into trouble before they seek a therapist. No, you should actually have a therapist the same way you probably have a spiritual leader, pastor or a life coach. You should have a therapist— somebody you can run to, somebody you can vent to, somebody that can provide clarity, help you understand your past, help you clarify your present and also help you provide insight to your future; somebody that can go through your timeline. Your emotional timeline can show you the cause and effect of your emotions, help you understand your pattern so that you can break them. So, mental health is needed daily. Emotional intelligence is a daily requirement. It is not a Sunday-Sunday medicine.
Currently, what’s a typical day like at the Emotions City?
A typical day at Emotions City is about coaching, therapy, consulting, training, just helping people move from a place of meaninglessness to meaning, dissatisfaction to satisfaction, unhappiness to happiness, and to help you increase your personal and professional influence. That is what consumes us. That is what we live for. That is what we do on a regular and on a daily basis.
Who needs an emotional intelligence specialist and why?
Everyone does. Personal achievers, organisational or worship centres otherwise known as churches or mosque, or anywhere. You need the emotional intelligence specialist to help you first of all do a diagnosis—personal and professional if you are performing at an optimal level, or if you have a cobweb of shame, low self-esteem, anger issues, insecurities, to mention a few. If you have adverse childhood experiences or are experiencing any of those things. Emotions drive people and people drive performance. So, when you show up at work, it will show; in your parenting, we will see the pain because you will be bleeding while leading. This also includes our leaders; if our leaders are bleeding, there’s a tendency that it would affect us.
So, whatever organisation that you belong, or as long as human beings exist, emotional intelligence practitioners, professionals and specialists will be required and needed.
How can organisations use emotional intelligence to increase performance of leaders?
By hiring Emotional Intelligence specialists and professionals to help them do a diagnosis and the prescription of the emotional health of the organisation; how high self-awareness is amongst the staff and the leaders. Bringing to the fore what we must stop doing, and what we must start doing. Do leaders remember that there is the human in the human resource, and the fact that people are first human before they show up at our offices and our organisation? So yes, hire us and we will sort it out for you.
Let us talk about the family unit; how does one’s level of emotional intelligence affect family life?
Just imagine a man who was raised in an abusive environment, parents used to shout, yell and bully. They never apologise to him and then he’s now married. What do you think he will do? He’s already seen and he’s been raised to consider violence, yelling and bullying as a tool of performance and how he can deploy these tools to resolve issues. Such a man will attempt to bully his way through, bully his spouse, children and family members. That’s how important it is. So, the family unit is the factory of the nation. The people who will lead us come from families and if we’re not intentional about designing, creating and engineering families, instead of raising children, we will erase children and when we will erase children, we will release terrorists— emotional terrorists, into the society and not healthy beings.
A lot of people battle with unforgiveness; what tips can help?
They should please seek the expertise of a life coach or a therapist to walk them through the six stages of forgiveness and to help them understand that you can forgive without having to reconcile; and it is not bad to not want to reconcile with an abuser or a perpetrator. What is important is to forgive. You do not have to reconcile.
What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome on your road to success as Nigeria’s foremost emotional intelligence expert?
Nigeria as it is presently designed, is not a country that is full of certainty. Nigeria is quite unstable at the moment that you can’t plan or project. The uncertainty is the major thing that almost every Nigerian entrepreneur experiences.
…and which of these challenges made you feel like giving up or forging a new professional path?
I am yet to encounter that challenge. I love what I do, I live for what I do, it gives me joy and money. It connects me with people and gives me the capacity to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. I see myself as a saviour; as an ancestor. So, I’m living the life that I dreamed off.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am writing a book called ‘How Nigerians think’. It’s an exposé on how we think and what we must do differently to create a new set of ancestors and saviours because if we continue to think like this, we may not get to what you call a developed nation. I also just finished working on my documentary, ‘The Story of a Girl Who Stood Up for Emotional Intelligence in Nigeria’. It’s on YouTube; go watch it. It is viral. It is beautiful. And, it’s a documentary that will teach you a lesson.
If you were to relax with a recently published book, what book would that be and why?
Definitely my book, ‘Soul Stripper’. It is acclaimed to be a mental health Bible. It’s an outline on how to deal with your mental health and what you must do daily and weekly to be better and be emotionally stable in an unstable world.
…and what kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
I enjoy listening to worship songs, beautiful love songs and Hip-Hop here and there. I am particular about the lyrics that I listen to; the beats may be beautiful but if the lyrics is not empowering or energising, then I am not their target audience or the consumer.
Where would you prefer to spend a three-day getaway and why?
I love nature and serenity; an island is beautiful with someone I love. I love thinking, I love meditating. I love anywhere where there is peace and joy. I do not do well with noise.
Your most priced fashion accessory…
My most priced fashion accessory is my red lipstick! You know, there are only two colours in the world— red and others. Every time you see me or a good number of the times, my red lipstick is there to increase my bride price and motherhood.
What do you look forward to right now?
I just look forward to enjoying life, healing more people and helping people strip off the garment of shame. Helping them discover who they are without shame, helping them understand that they can feel, taste, hear and enjoy their lives without shame.