Six habits of emotionally intelligent people
As a coach, many of my clients come to me feeling like they are unable to cope with their emotions. They feel overly sensitive and are fearful of experiencing any strong emotions. The problem here isn't in fact with their emotions - emotions are a part of life and they're not going anywhere!
The trouble is, we are given very few emotional coping skills as we grow up. As a child, no one sits us down and gives us productive ways to work with emotions so we have to make it up as we go along. Especially when we're dealing with a tricky time, these non-distinct coping strategies aren't much use! If we build our emotional intelligence, we give ourselves the tools to move through emotions with ease an grace.
There are lots of ways that we can build our emotional intelligence - here are 6 habits to start to include to give yours a boost:
1. Respond, don’t react
A reaction is that hot, in-the-moment, burst of emotion that’s usually driven by our inner critic (so we’re more likely to react when we’re disconnected from ourselves). It might last a just a split second before your intuition kicks in and offers some perspective, or it might take over to a point that we act on it. When we feel crappy after dealing with a situation or person, that’s a sign we have reacted rather than responded. Responding will leave you feeling like you handled things with integrity and respect.
Next time you feel yourself about to react, see if you can observe your reaction mentally with curiosity. It becomes quite an interesting exercise to watch where your mind goes when you’re triggered. Once you’ve got this little bit of space from your reaction, you can let it go. To tune back into your heart and intuition, take a few deep breaths or give yourself some space to reconnect.
2. Be present (especially with your emotions)
When we are in the here and now, it’s much easier to cope with emotions and see them as just that, emotions. If we get caught up future or past tripping, emotions and situations can take on new, and untrue, meanings. For example, imagine you are turned down for a job. Naturally you’re disappointed. If you’re not present with that emotion and experience it in the moment the mind delves back into your past for all the other times you’ve felt that way. Now you feel like a failure and start to carry a feeling of unworthiness into every other interview. When we stay present, we are empowered to start fresh every moment and we can see every situation with perspective. That means you walk into your next interview as your best self, trusting that the right job will be offered to you at the right time.
Deep breathing is a great way to come back to the present moment – try focusing on the small gaps between each breath for instant calm. You might also like to repeat this affirmation 'Where I am right now is perfect and I am exactly where I need to be'. Try journaling on the question: 'What do I need to let go of so I can be present now?'
3. Practice self love
Make a big list of all the things that make you feel great and do at least one thing from this list every day. Big or small, it doesn’t matter! Doing something that makes us feel awesome is an act of self love – yep, it’s that simple. This small effort reduces stress levels and makes us feel capable and confident. Rather than waiting for other people or circumstances to make us feel good, practicing self love is all about empowering ourselves to feel how we want to feel, all the time.
4. Move that body!
When we're feeling down, stressed or anxious, one of the best ways to get out of our head and reconnected with ourselves is movement – especially free movement. It’s very rare we move our bodies in a way that is totally free! Put on some music and give it a go whenever you feel like you're in a bit of a funk. It will feel weird at first so make a feel-good playlist of songs that you just can help but boogie to. Make movement (of any kind) part of your daily ritual of looking after your emotional wellbeing.
5. Make time to process your emotions
We don't always have the opportunity to be present with every emotion that comes up during the day, which means that our emotions can get suppressed or ignored. These suppressed emotions leave us irritable, easily overwhelmed, and struggling to cope and may even contribute to feeling of anxiety and depression.
So instead of letting things build up, give yourself 10 minutes each evening to run though your day before you go to sleep. You could also do this at the end of your work day. Either write in your journal or just reflect mentally in a quiet space. Check in with any situations that were emotionally stressful or difficult and work through the associated emotions so that you can release them before going to sleep.
6. Cultivate gratitude
Practicing gratitude is super supportive for our emotional wellness because it shifts our focus to the good in our lives and trains up to look for the positives in every situation. It gives us appreciation for all that we have instead of getting caught up with what’s lacking. To cultivate gratitude, try sharing 3 things you are grateful for each day with your partner, family or housemates during dinner or before bed. You can also write a gratitude list in your journal or make a gratitude jar to put slips of paper with things you're grateful for on them into it every day.
Cultivating emotional intelligence helps us get the very most out of life. When we feel emotionally balanced, we feel more centered and connected to our intuition. We become more productive, better at making decisions, more present, and the very best version of ourselves.
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P.S. If you're navigating a, emotional transition or feel like your emotions are getting the better of you, I'm here to help. Click here to learn about how we can work together.