Emotional Intelligence is a term that has become popular in recent years, often used in conversations but not always fully understood.
So what is Emotional Intelligence?
Many people believe it is about having and expressing strong feelings, this can often come with negative connotations. Essentially, Emotional Intelligence refers to a person’s ability to identify, manage, regulate and respond effectively to their own and others emotions. Emotional Intelligence goes hand in hand with empathy; ( a heightened sensitivity to yours and others’ emotions) which makes it easier to recognize the underlying feelings driving another person’s actions, relate to them, and then in response treat them with kindness and compassion rather than contempt, confusion, or carelessness. Emotional intelligence typically correlates with communication skills because having heightened emotional awareness can make it easier to explain to someone exactly how you’re feeling or what’s bothering you.
As we learn to effectively understand and empathically express our emotions, it becomes easier to self- regulate, problem-solve and not get overwhelmed in the face of upset and conflict. This makes us more pleasant to be around and improves our interactions and relationship with others.
So how can we develop and improve our Emotional Intelligence?
I believe it is important to stop blocking out our emotions. Some of the ways we numb ourselves to our emotions include drugs, alcohol, screens, social media, gambling, food, television, etc. These coping mechanisms and habits we adopt can become hard-to-break. When we have an impulse to turn to our coping mechanisms to distract or dumb down the emotion, choose instead to sit with the emotion, focus your breath, acknowledge it and ask yourself why you want to escape the emotion. Ask yourself, what do I need at this moment? How can I manage my emotional energy in a healthy way that does not cause harm to myself or others? Remind yourself the feeling will pass.
Journaling daily self-reflections is a highly effective way to stimulate self-awareness, I find it helpful to jot down my thoughts and feelings, Useful reminders include:
Writing down what feelings you are experiencing, both physically and emotionally?
What resources and help if any do you need?
What are your choices and options?
What lessons are you learning?
How do you feel you are being challenged by this experience? How can you grow and develop?
Another useful way of managing emotions is to set an alarm throughout the day to check-in with your emotions, ask yourself:
What am I feeling?
Why am I feeling this way?
What is contributing to these feelings?
Start to link your thoughts and feelings by getting in touch with your raw emotions and validate your emotional experiences.
Validating our emotions means being able to empathically identify and understand a feeling and why that feeling makes sense to us based on our current circumstances and our past experiences. When we validate our experiences it then becomes easier to appreciate other peoples feelings and experiences. Validation is very different from agreeing – we do not have to agree with someone’s emotion in order to understand why they are feeling that way. I find mirroring back and paraphrasing what I think I’ve heard is a really useful way to improve validation. Often words and their meaning can get lost in our translation, repeating back what someone says in your own words, shows them that you are listening and want to fully understand.
The more we train ourselves to identify, be comfortable with emotions and check-in to make sure we are accurately in touch with them, in turn, the greater and deeper our Emotional Intelligence will become. Ultimately our relationships with others will also improve as a result. I would love to see Emotional Intelligence routinely taught in all schools, I strongly believe this is an essential soft skill. Being educated in what this actually means and looks like would lead to a kinder, more tolerant society.
How to Identify an Emotionally Intelligent person.
Emotionally intelligent people communicate their emotions effectively. They are able to read other peoples emotions accurately, create healthy boundaries and maintain deeper respect and empathy for one another.
Good luck with improving your Emotional Intelligence and deepening your emotional awareness. I’d love to hear your feedback and what tools you have found and currently find useful and effective in your personal growth and development journeys.
Be well Pip x