Emotional intelligence (EI) is determined by our ability to identify and respond to emotions.
EI is such an essential part of our health and wellbeing.
In a previous post I described the 5 steps to emotional intelligence.
What follows is a turbo charged version of practical steps towards greater emotional intelligence.
Firstly, remember this acronym:
It stands for:
Tune in. Connect. Accept. Reflect. End.
Let’s drill down in to them.
TUNE IN – Notice or become aware of emotion
Begin by looking for signs of lower intensity emotions in yourself. Observe your interactions and reactions with your partner, your kids, workmates, boss, driving in busy traffic, coming home from work, going to work.
Be aware of feelings like:
Here’s another task which takes a few moments.
Spend a moment thinking about the kind of day you had today.
Reflect upon an emotion you experienced. It can be a low level feeling, or a fleeting sense of something that stirred a reaction in you.
Answer the following:
What is the feeling?
What happened that made you feel this way?
How did you know you are feeling that?
What sensation did you notice in your body e.g. facial expression.
What thoughts went through your head?
Did you focus on a positive feeling or a negative feeling? Tuning in this way is the start of becoming aware of your emotional life.
CONNECT – with yourself
The second step is simply to view these moments of observation and experience as an opportunity to slow down and connect with yourself.
Pay close attention to your emotions. Try not to dismiss or avoid them.
ACCEPT – Listen and Understand with Empathy
Making sense of what’s happening emotionally requires good self observation. Learn to listen to yourself!
Developing acceptance in this instance involves the skills of empathy. In particular it’s about self-empathy or self-acceptance.
This video clip by Dr Brene Brown describes empathy really well.
How do you do empathy? Can you listen patiently. Or do you come up with a host of questions and try to fix problems?
Empathy is about accepting and validating what you observe without judgement.
The trick in this step is to simply listen to yourself with some compassion, care and curiosity.
– REFLECT – Name your emotions.
Reflecting on emotion is a combination of awareness and skill. The first 3 steps are the building blocks to self-awareness.
The skills of reflecting on your emotion has more depth. Here are two parts.
A. Focus on your body
Emotions have physical sensations. Notice changes in certain areas of your body. Here are some examples:
- Changes in facial expression
- Sensations in your gut
- Change in body temperature.
- Different physical postures
- Tension in your body – headaches, back ache, sore shoulders
- Your verbal expressions – heavy sighing, grumbling for example.
Check out this video about mapping emotions in the body .
B. Mind your language
Linking language and emotions brings emotional intelligence into our daily life.
Below is document called Feeling Faces. It illustrates the language of emotion and the facial expressions that accompany them!
Language allows us to make sense of what’s happening and of course is vital for us to be able talk to others!
– End – What do you need?
All these steps are emotional processing techniques. Sometimes they may just be enough to allow us to gain clarity without having to solve anything.
Your feelings don’t always require fixing however you may need to:
- Talk with someone
- Have some quiet, calming time
- Make decisions with a clear head
- Participate in some good, nurturing and healthy self care activities
Many blokes leap quickly into solving problems before processing their (or their partners) emotions.
Emotional intelligence sometimes has less to do with initially fixing problems, as it is to do with empathy, listening, and validation.
Outcomes of emotional intelligence.
When we respond to our feelings with awareness any acting out or problematic behaviour tends to diminish. This is because we pay attention to ourselves as opposed to dismissing or disapproving of our emotions.