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If you have a high EIQ, you likely regulate your emotions well; handle uncertainties and difficulties without excessive panic, stress, and fear; and avoid overreacting to situations before knowing the full details.
Some Steps to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence:
1. Understand what emotional intelligence looks like.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman identified five elements to EI:
Self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
This means you understand what’s going on in your head and heart; you don’t make hasty decisions on impulse; you can motivate yourself to delay gratification; you listen to, understand, and relate to other people well; and you’re able to focus on other people.
2. Use meditation to regulate emotions.
3. Take an honest look at your reactions.
Do you frequently jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts?
Do you need other people’s approval to feel comfortable in your own skin?
Do you assume you know what other people feel and take responsibility for that?
Do you freak out over stressful situations, blaming other people, getting hard on yourself, and panicking over possible consequences?
4. Practice observing your feelings and taking responsibility for them.
It’s not always easy to understand a feeling when it happens, especially if you think you shouldn’t feel it; but forget about should. Instead, try to pinpoint exactly what you feel—scared, frustrated, worried, ashamed, agitated, angry—and then pinpoint what might be the cause. Reserve all judgment.
Simply find the cause and effect, i.e.: your employer seemed unhappy with your work, so now you feel stressed, or your significant other expressed dissatisfaction, so now you feel scared. Anytime you feel something uncomfortable that you’d rather avoid, put a magnifying glass on it.
Once you know what you feel, you can now challenge both the cause and the effect.
Learn to Sit with Negative Feelings
Even if you reframe a situation to see things differently, there will be times when you still feel something that seems negative. While not every situation requires panic, sometimes our feelings are appropriate for the events going on in our lives.
We are allowed to feel whatever we need to feel. If we lose someone, we’re allowed to hurt. If we hurt someone, we’re allowed to feel guilty. If we make a mistake, we’re allowed to feel regretful. Positive thinking can be a powerful tool for happiness, but it’s more detrimental than helpful if we use it to avoid dealing with life.
Pain is part of life, and we can’t avoid it by resisting it. We can only minimize it by accepting it and dealing with it well.
That means feeling the pain and knowing it will pass.
No feeling lasts forever. It means sitting in the discomfort and waiting before acting. There will come a time when you feel healed and empowered.
Our power comes from realizing we don’t need to act on pain; and if we need to diffuse it, we can channel it into something healthy and productive, like writing, painting, or doing something physical.
Create Situations for Positive Feelings
This is the last part of the puzzle. As I mentioned before, we tend to be more reactive than active, but that’s a decision to let the outside world dictate how we feel.
We don’t need to sit around waiting for other people to evoke our feelings. Instead, we can take responsibility to create our own inner world.
We can identify what we want to say yes to in life and choose that before struggling with whether or not to say not to someone else. If you love dancing, take a class.
If your greatest passion is writing, [just write]. If you daydream about being a musician, start recording.
Don’t worry about where it’s leading. Do it just because you love it.
We need to do the things we love—or as Sonya Derian phrased it: make feeling good our new religion.
Negative feelings are only negative if they’re excessive and enduring. We won’t hurt ourselves into eternal misery if we let ourselves feel what we need to.
Still, we don’t have to feel bad nearly as often as we think.