*Emotional Intelligence: The ability to identify and manage our emotions and the emotions of others.
It’s widely recognized that emotions are a universal aspect of the human experience. Yet the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) continues to be undermined. A strong sense of emotional intelligence can help you to be more aware of your emotions, and better equipped to manage them. Benefits of EI include, but are not limited to, improvements in coping, well-being, relationship satisfaction, and resilience.
Developing your EI can seem intimidating at first, but it does not always need to be. Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey’s four branch model can provide a framework for you to foster your abilities. It includes the ability to (1) recognize or perceive emotions in oneself and others, (2) utilize emotions to communicate, (3) comprehend and regulate emotions, and (4) be open to and manage emotions to promote understanding and self-growth. Therefore, an emotionally intelligent individual is able to perceive, convey, comprehend, and regulate emotions effectively. While methods to foster these four branches may vary from person to person, I’m happy to share a few of my favorite strategies that I use personally and professionally. I hope the following tips may help you to improve your journey to improving emotional well-being.
It may seem simple but the first, and perhaps most influential skill of emotional mastery is the mere willingness to tune into your feelings. You may not even notice the moments in which you select avoidance or minimization rather than tuning in. Have you ever had someone ask a polite, “How are you?” that prompted you to respond with an instinctive “Fine” although you knew wholeheartedly that your response was a white lie? How could you possibly hijack this kind person’s time by explaining a novel’s worth of data for how terrible your day has been? These seemingly simple innocuous moments cause us to create a habit of overshadowing and disconnecting from our emotions. Instead, notice when these instances happen. Be ready to be open, willing, and vulnerable, as you take the first big first step in emotional wellness by paying attention to your sincere feelings.
When tuning into your emotions, take a step or two backward. Ask yourself, “How did I get here?” Hunt for the triggers that may have contributed to your feelings. Did your friend’s comment about your wardrobe strike a deeper chord than either of you would have expected? Are you truly angry at your partner asking you, “What’s for dinner?” or are you simply exhausted from a long day at work? Understanding where our emotions arise from and what evokes them is a crucial component to help you begin to manage emotions. When you notice your emotions be willing to hunt for the triggers that may have propelled you into your given feelings.
On the other hand, when we become emotionally heightened, a common and crippling side effect is rumination. Not before long our thoughts encircle us and we become tied up in our own feelings. A tip to emotional management is to step out of the zone in order to gain perspective. Fast forward from that moment and consider what may happen. What are the consequences of our actions? Are we solely affected or do our emotional reactions spark others’ as well? In that future-oriented view, consider what matters to you in that moment. Being able to gain perspective and connect to our ultimate values helps us to attune our thoughts and feelings when we return to the present moment.
Let There Be Light
Negative emotions can weigh heavily on our functioning. You may notice that after letting one dark feeling in, it may invite its equally malicious and unwelcomed friends. When mildly irritated, without monitoring your emotions, this sentiment can easily grow to agitation, frustration, anger, and even rage. What to do about this sudden bad crowd? Positive emotions tend to have a similar habit and can be just as powerful. Adjust the brightness to focus on welcome emotions. Focus on gratitude in the present moment to evoke related feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
While you may be excited to delve into emotional exploration, it can be a tiresome process. Be cognizant of your energy in a given context. If you notice a negative emotion beginning to escalate but do not have the ability to give that emotion the stage at that moment in time, give yourself a mindful minute. Recognize the need to tend to this emotion, and check in for whether it needs to be paused. Strategies such as deep breathing or grounding may be helpful when this happens. The catch is knowing that pausing means you must remember to resume your journey, and caution avoiding intense emotions.
You may find yourself shackled to your phone and chained to your computer. The interconnectivity of our modern world can cause us to be easily overwhelmed. Find a balance between screen time and your time. Take time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with your mind, heart, and soul. Free of distractions, turning off the noise of the world and its obligations allow you to reduce the smog that may be clouding your emotional awareness and management. Use these moments to reflect on situations in which you needed to press pause. Revisiting these events with a clear mind may assist you in forming an improved perspective.
It is certainly courageous to choose the endeavor of emotional growth. You could technically select the option of auto-pilot instead, relinquishing you from the need to use the potentially time-consuming and energy-draining controls noted above. Remember that you are brave to embark on this path. It is not an easy one, but it will prove worthwhile in the end. To help you weather the difficulties along your journey, consider this: How do you recharge? This question is not easily answered in a ten-tip article because the method varies from person to person. For one person it may be meditation, and for another, it may be prayer. For one person it may be an invigorating workout, and for another, it may be spending quality time with family. In the best case, you will find multiple methods to recharge, giving you several opportunities for self-care, rejuvenation, and improving your emotional well-being.
Photo by Greg Raines on Unsplash
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
Make sure you also check-out Dr. Ali’s new book, “The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth and Find Genuine Happiness”.
Dr. Shainna Ali is a mental health clinician, educator, and advocate who is dedicated to highlighting the important role of mental health in fostering happiness, fulfillment, and overall wellness. She is the owner of Integrated Counseling Solutions, a counseling and consulting practice in Central Florida. In her practice, she uses a strengths-based, creative approach that empowers clients on their journey. Her areas of interest include exploring identity and culture, emotional intelligence, & creativity methods in counseling. Dr. Ali teaches counseling courses to students at the University of Central Florida and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Beyond instructing, Dr. Ali promotes mental health awareness in her blog, Modern Mentality, and also in her regular contributions to the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Counseling Association. She is a firm believer in the importance of self-care, and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing with her German Shepherd, practicing yoga, exercising, learning new lessons, and traveling the globe.