Developing Your Emotional Intelligence.

Very recently I’ve had some situations where my emotional intelligence has been tested. And depending on many factors I’ve either nailed the test or failed miserably.  So I am now working on some growth in that area.  What is emotional intelligence? According to Daniel Goldman, author of “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”:

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions; to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought; to understand emotions and emotional knowledge; and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

Sounds great right?  And here’s the good news, this is a skill you can get better at! So if you are someone who feels all fuzzy in the brain when stress hits, getting more in touch with your emotional intelligence is a good place to start.  Or if you fly off the handle at the first sign of frustration, or internalize everything (and often get sick) or emote everything or very little this is a good area to begin.  In general having a high EQ will only help you.  Now I am no expert, so I will get you started by passing along some information I’ve learned and then share some resources so you can continue your research.

Now for some folks emotional intelligence may have been mirrored to you in childhood.  You saw healthy examples of expressing emotion.  For others, you might have been told that “crying was only for babies,” that any display of anger was “acting out or disrespectful” etc.  If this was the case, it’s going to take a little more work to rewire your brain, but it’s not impossible.  In fact, you’ve probably been working on this, well before I wrote this post.  So let this be supplemental info to the work you’re already doing.

Every day our rational mind and emotional mind are in battle. The issue lies when we are not aware of it. Now there are times when a quick reaction is key to your survival. Fight or flight. If you are alone on a dark path and you sense danger, I don’t recommend processing it. Take care of yourself, and do it fast. However, there are going to be other times when it’s crucial that we do some inner checking in before we react and let whatever emotion we are feeling overtake us.

In fact, I had to work on that just now in line for the ATM. I’m pretty sure the guy in front of me was using every function the ATM is capable of.  And while my New Yorker impatience started to kick in, so did my ability to notice my emotions instead of letting frustration take over. This doesn’t mean I then imploded internally. Instead I took a beat, assessed the situation and paid attention to what I was thinking. As I felt my blood pressure rise, I paused and noticed my thought.  Are you ready for it?  It was pretty lame.   I was thinking, “I have to get to my nail appointment, I really don’t have time for this, why is he doing this to me?!” Yikes. C’mon Esther. But that’s legitimately where I went. Once I paid attention to my thoughts and my heightened emotions, I was able to come back down to earth and look at the facts. I was not late, and if this made me late, there were 5 more places within walking distance.  I also reminded myself there is no time limit at the ATM so it was time to let it go.  Also, this wasn’t personal, he had stuff to do!  I then took a couple of breaths, and suddenly he was done.

Can you relate to this?  When was the last time you almost popped off on some unsuspecting stranger because you let frustration take over?  This is a small example and I’m not going to really be able to tap into this topic without going on and on so I encourage you to research further.  I might also dive in a little deeper on my podcast in an upcoming episode ( Self-care with Esther on Apple Podcasts, Spotify etc).  But if this has you intrigued at all, here are some resources:

“Emotional Intelligence: Use CBT to understand and manage your emotions and live a happier life” by Christine Wilding

“The Emotional Intelligence workbook” by J. Dann

“The Art of Happiness” by H.H. Dalai Lama

“Brilliant Emotional Intelligence” by T. Hasson

Good luck on your emotionally intelligent journey!  And be kind to yourself, every incident you come across is a learning experience.  Allow yourself to investigate your reactions and emotions and be fascinated by your thoughts instead of appalled.  We are still students of life, whatever our age.

Take care of YOU.

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