Emotional Intelligence - how do we improve it?

Self-awareness is the first step in emotional intelligence. It teaches you how to identify your emotions and be aware of them, their impact, and triggers.

Emotional intelligence is a set of skills that allow you to express and control emotions. The latest studies suggest that your EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) is far more important than your IQ (intelligence quotient) for having better health and succeeding in general. By mastering this, you can be aware of not only your own emotions (and therefore the drivers) but also the emotions of people around you (which allows you to guide them and benefit from the information presented.

Self-awareness is one of four steps in improving your emotional intelligence. This allows you to spot your emotions as they arise and not after their devastating effect. This skill helps you anticipate the upcoming emotional reaction by being aware and defining the things that drive you towards those emotions.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise emotions not only inside yourself but also inside others.

There are four areas which are:

Self-awareness - noticing and understanding your emotions.

Self - control - being able to control your own emotions.

Empathy - is the understanding of others.

Social skills - being able to influence others' emotions.

How do you improve self-awareness?

You can improve your self-awareness with these ten steps:

Get out of your comfort zone

Have you ever heard that magic happens outside your comfort zone? It is the same for emotions. People have a tendency to avoid discomforting feelings; this is not a long - term solution. Allow the feelings to sit on the surface and provide the information they carry.

Instead of burying the emotion away, guide yourself to it and through it. Ignoring your feelings will only allow them to appear when it is least expected.

Getting out of your comfort zone is not bad. Our present minds have daily tasks to do something unpleasant to expand their frontiers. With practice, you soon discover that it isn't bad.

Identify your triggers

A trigger is a situation, person, or condition that makes you emotional and prompts you to specific actions. It could be a noisy work environment, mainly when your colleagues like talking over the phone and you can not concentrate.

The typical response to these stimuli is a shutdown. It happens at work, where emotional outbursts are considered taboo. Even if you enclose your emotions inside you, your body language will go screaming, and a keen observer will notice it anyway.

When you identify your trigger, it leads to improved emotional intelligence as it allows you to develop the ability to control the outcome. It can give you the skills to calm down and take control of your actions while maintaining your presense of spirit. To do this, you must find the specific case and start generalising from there. If you can understand what triggers you, that would make the situations far more manageable as the emotions will not come as a surprise.

If you decide to go all the way, you can also identify the reason behind the trigger. Meaning you'll find out exactly why those situations or people push your buttons. For example, a disruptive and noisy environment could irritate you because you're better skilled in writing and reading as opposed to listening and talking.

Don't judge your feelings

Feelings are feelings, nothing more nothing less. If you want to label your feelings as "good" or "bad" or "positive" and "negative," you would lose the ability to be aware of them. It is human nature to judge things and separate them into groups, but ti is counterproductive.

The "bad" feelings are automatically regarded as something that should be avoided like the plague. YOU DO NOT WANT TO FEEL THEM, and you may even want to get rid of them or feel ashamed that you are feeling them.

The "good" feelings are automatically regarded as something that should be sought after. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT TO FEEL you may even begin to reward yourself for having these feelings. You also let them drain your energy and run wild.

All of these feelings come to life with specific information that they are carrying. You feel:

content due to achieving something.Mournful as you have lost something. Frustrated as your reality is different from your expectations.Excited as you're going on holiday soon.

When you allow yourself to regard the emotion as what it is, you have the opportunity to understand it and find out what your mind is trying to tell you. When you allow yourself not to judge your own emotions, it will run its course and vanish; then it will not take control of you.

Don't make decisions when you're in a bad mood

Everyone has those days or situations in life when everything goes in the wrong direction. You may feel as though you can't do anything right, and the veil comes down on all your thoughts.

The problem is that once a bad moon takes control of your brain, you lose sight of the good parts of your life. All of a sudden you hate where you live, where you work, and you're irritated by everyone and everything. Deep down, you know the majority of what you're thinking is so far from the truth, but you can't help get rid of the thoughts.

Emotional awareness through self - awareness teaches you to take notice of the situation and accept that it is what it is.

The most important thing here is that you should postpone any possible life-changing decisions until you're out of that mind frame and in a clear headspace.

Avoid making decisions in a good mood too

It is exactly the same for then you're on the other side of the equilibrium. When you're feeling happy, ecstatic even, it's easy for you to do something you may regret.

It is like a salesperson selling you something you do not want or need. You then get excited, and your mind loses control, so you end up paying far more than its value.

Get a birds-eye view

Have you ever heard the term describing someone as "above things?" This applies to emotional intelligence too. Imagine if you could let go of yourself and your personality and watch yourself from above. Just like a bird who flies high above the ground and can see the whole picture. If you could let go of your first-person view and look at your life in general, how many more things do you think you would see and understand?

Even though it would be difficult to look at yourself in this way, you can still develop an understanding of your behaviour. You need to be aware of your emotions and thoughts as the situations come to life. Put yourself between the trigger and reaction to allow yourself to process all the information and see things from above. The main goal here is to remind yourself of the real feelings below all the layers.

For example, as a parent, you may want to give your child something healthy for their dinner, such as meat and vegetables. You then notice he does not want to eat it and the starts spitting the foot out onto the floor you have just cleaned. You feel yourself growing angry if you go above the situation thought you see a parent who is worried that their child should get enough vitamins.

Look for your emotions in the media

I have always loved Will Smith from the days where I would watch Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to his current motivational videos. The video is Running and reading where he says:

"The key to life is running and reading."

"There have been billions and billions of people an there is not a problem that has not yet been solved."

It is the same for emotions. There are so many emotions out there, but they are the same for each one of us. You will often feel that "nobody understands me," but that is not true.

Look for the emotions you feel in songs, movies, or books. When a movie, book or song movies you, this says something about you. Look at the situation and the actions of the characters closer; you may learn something about yourself. It is the same with a song, you listen to something and think "this was made for me" look up the lyrics the song most likely carries information for you or maybe it'll give you the words to express your emotions.

Revisit your values and act according to them

Your life is dynamic; work is hard; your family is demanding. You try to learn new things but have fun. You are replying to emails, having phone calls, and commenting on social media, all while being with friends and binge-watching shows on Netflix. Half of those activities is enough to fill your day; it also causes you to focus on the outside and not on yourself.

When you feel overwhelmed its time to stop and review your values.

Is your career progressing in the direction you want it to?

Are you comfortable with what you're doing at work?

Do you have enough time with your family?

If you continue as you are, will you be where you want to be in 2-5 years?

Those are a few questions that you can use to re-evaluate your life against your beliefs and values.

Value - what you believe in such as responsibility and sustainability.

Mission - how you want to change the world (I want to transform millennium's mindset).

Goal - what you are aiming to do/be (I want to be a manager in 2 years).

Check yourself

Self-awareness is mainly an internal process; however, there are external implications of your internal situation. Try and get into the habit of examining these regularly to make sure that everything is okay.

How does your face look today?

Do you shave regularly?

Have you brushed your hair today?

Are your eyes puffy?

What are you wearing?

Have you ironed your shirt?

Are those shoes comfortable?

How does your room look?

Have you made your bed?

Did you take out the trash?

Is everything where it should be?

Be aware of your usual self and be alert for times when you feel stressed. Notice what and how things change. When you become aware of the changes, you may be able to detect easier what the stress factors are for the future; they prevent it before it reaches your conscious mind.

Fill the blind spot with feedback

Remember the windows of knowledge. There is a very intimate part of you that nobody knows and then the part that is shared with the public. There is also a spot you don't see; this spot is called the "blind spot."

Don't be afraid to look outside for help. You can ask your friends or your partner once you get to a comfortable location and ask them for feedback.

Observe the rules of communication; if you ask for feedback, you should be listening more than talking. Open your heart and be truthful, don't get defensive, the people closest to you usually only want to help.

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