Have you ever wondered how some people just seem to keep it all together? Their level of emotional intelligence might have something to do with it. What is emotional intelligence, you might wonder? Simply put, it is the ability to understand your own emotional state and the emotional state of others and communicate clearly about both. Individuals with high emotional intelligence tend to be described as “level headed”, grounded, great communicators, and effective listeners. Who wouldn’t want those words to describe them? Check out these tips for strengthening your own emotional IQ:
- Keep a journal. Actually, any format where you can record your inner thoughts and feelings fits this category, including keeping a blog. Feel free to get creative in finding what works best for you! If you realize you’re horrible at keeping up with a pen and ink version, look into apps and online sites that encourage documenting your daily experiences. The key here is to be able to express how you’re feeling and better understand the circumstances that affect your emotional well-being.
- Designate regular “check in” times for relationships you value. Maybe it’s a special monthly night out, a scheduled one-on-one date, or every night after putting the kids to bed. Find whatever frequency and format work for you, but whatever you choose make it at LEAST monthly and STICK WITH IT. This is a time each person in the relationship has set aside to connect, talk over conflict or concerns, and get on the same page. It’s a great idea to keep a running list of bullet points to be discussed during these meetings so the time can be used efficiently and you don’t find you forget small annoyances or topics between sessions. This time is whatever you make it, but the point is you need to make it!
- Learn to identify your own emotions…and be specific. When you feel your face flush and your stomach lurch practice taking a second to think through how you’re actually feeling and why. For example, if your child walks into your freshly mopped kitchen with muddy shoes on you might originally identify your emotional reaction simply as anger, but if you take a second to process what you’re really feeling you might find it to be frustration with a lack of support in maintaining an orderly home. There are often layers to emotions and learning to peel them back, evaluate them, and look for the root can really help you work through how you’re feeling and why….which gives you more control over your reactions.
- Be honest with yourself and others. I’ve noticed a tendency I have to make excuses for my emotions. For example, if I’m having an off day I might tell a friend who invited me to go somewhere with her that I’m not feeling well. In all honesty, I physically feel a-okay…but emotionally I’m having a hard time. When did it become taboo, especially with close family and friends, to share what’s really going on rather than throwing around white lies that are considered more acceptable answers? Practice frankly and simply sharing with those you trust that you’re feeling _________ and would like to spend the evening alone, or if you’re needing some extra lovin’ let them know how you’re feeling and see if they would be interested in coming to keep you company. Bottom line? Be real with people regarding your emotional state, especially your close circle of those who love you too.
- Spend time getting to know yourself. For all that it’s important to learn how to connect with others, it’s also important to identify who you are and continue down your own journey of self discovery. Have your hobbies, interests, passions, likes/dislikes changed with time? How are you different than you were last year? What gets you excited and what makes you feel sad? The better you know yourself and love yourself the more clearly you can communicate about yourself to those you love.
The journey towards developing emotional intelligence is just that – a journey! The real message here is to strive to be authentic. Love authentically and live authentically…as you strive to better understand yourself and connect with those around you you will find you can be more authentically happy. And who doesn’t want that?