EXPAND EMOTIONAL AWARENESS
Emotional intelligence (EI) is more than a form of thinking, it’s a frame of mind. Since it’s not a fixed trait EI can be taught or enhanced. But in order to develop EI, it must first be engaged. The following practice will guide you as you identify your unique emotional intelligence and the various ways it can be used.
While there is usually a suggested beginner and advanced timeframe, this practice requires a daily routine. It takes continual effort to engage EI in order for it to become a frame of mind -a state of being. But once you begin to see the effects of emotional authenticity, it becomes easier to embrace the mentality permanently.
IDENTIFY: Before you can use or develop your EI, it must first be found. While some people may have a predisposition towards empathy and inner awareness, we are all capable of tuning into our “emotional side”. This doesn’t mean that we lose ourselves in our or others emotions. It means that we have the ability to recognize, understand, and consider their role in different situations.
In order to identify your emotional intelligence, consider times in your life when you reconsidered something based on your emotions or gut instinct. Or remember when you didn’t follow your immediate reaction and reassessed instead. Think about a time when you were offended by a stranger or talked yourself out of a funk. At first you may have felt unwanted negative feelings, but after further thought you changed your mind -thus your emotional state. These are moments when your EI knows there’s more to the story and doesn’t let the situation take control.
ENGAGE: Once you’re aware of your EI you can learn how to use it. A simple, yet effective, way to start engaging your emotional intelligence is to always allow a moment of pause. Whether you’re in a conversation with others or just thinking to yourself, notice what’s just been said before responding. This gives you the opportunity to assess your emotional reaction and decide whether or not it’s accurate or useful. Many times our focus drifts from the present moment, thus our immediate response might not be what’s actually needed. So by taking a pause we allow our emotions to better align with the situation, which then results in beneficial action.
Taking a pause also allows you to step inside yourself -your thoughts and emotions- so that you can better understand yourself. If you notice that you’re quick to anger or blame, take a moment to consider why. Once you feel triggered to respond, pause and notice what’s happening inside of you. Is it the actual person or situation that’s causing this reaction? Or is it a pattern of behavior that stems from a long held insecurity, fear, or trauma? When you observe your routine reactions, it can reveal the real root cause. Then instead of continuing the same cycles, you can use your EI to identify and take responsibility for all of your actions.
Emotional intelligence encompasses various aspects of our lives, from our level of internal and emotional awareness to our authenticity and actions towards others. In essence, EI is our ability to self regulate and assess our reactions. Once we expand our EI capabilities, we gain the insight and intuition needed to interact with ourselves and the world in the most constructive way. This doesn’t mean that we ignore the difficult situations and conversations, but that we have the frame of mind to control ourselves and our response -thus the outcome.
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