Our mind is the most powerful tool in our bodies. It controls our reaction to events and can sometimes be an obstacle to our happiness. We all have problems. We overthink or we can’t be ourselves in certain situations because our mind just won’t let us, right?
For the longest time, I thought it would take me a lifetime to not overanalyse my life or be able to let go of the invisible mask I put on when around others. I believed I needed to have a crazy epiphany to realise it was just all in my head.
But as I meditated about it, I realised that’s not the right mindset to adopt: it would set me up for failure or raise unrealistic expectations for my life when all I needed was to take small steps to become an emotionally intelligent person.
Created by Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, two researchers in psychology, emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to:
Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions,
Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.
Here are 3 habits of emotionally intelligent people.
They Face Their Feelings
We all have secret challenges no one knows about. We all have emotions. The question is how we deal with them. We can either suppress them or identify them to be able to cope better.
Studies have shown that burying your negative emotions will leave them whole while doing so for positive emotions suppresses and annihilates them. A Harvard Medical School professor also said that “What we resist, persists” in the brain.
Most of the time, we don’t want to admit we are stressed or need help, we don’t want others to know we are vulnerable. That’s normal! But emotionally intelligent people know that ignoring the problem only makes it bigger. So they decide to face it.
They acknowledge and exteriorize it. It may seem unattainable but it’s easier than you think. All you need to do is to have this simple conversation with yourself:
I am feeling X emotion because of this event or person. I am allowed to feel like this. I won’t let this affect me. I won’t negative self-talk. Instead, I’ll learn from this situation. I’ll grow thanks to this situation.
You own your emotions or your emotions own you.
They Ask Themselves These Questions
A common assumption is that emotional intelligence means the absence of bad feelings. But that’s not true! It means you can manage your emotions. It means you accept what you can and can’t control.
We all think it takes a retreat to the other side of the world with an extraordinary event to learn to manage our emotions and let go of control. But in reality, it all comes down to these two questions:
Is it out of my power?
Is it worth my energy?
These questions helped me spare so much stress in life. They seem easy to answer but are not. Once you sit down to think about them, they force you to practice introspection. After you identify your feelings, they help you realise you are worrying about stuff that doesn’t deserve it. You’ll think it’s not that big of a deal.
Think of your energy and time as a resource. You don’t want it to go to waste right? Value it and use it to your advantage.
Accept situations you cannot control. Let go and believe in what you can do. We always think about what should’ve been done (by us or others). But I want you to know this: ‘What’s in the past, will remain there’.
In high-school, every time I had to hand in a paper, I thought about this. That paper no longer is in my hands. I can’t control what is going to happen. I would be wasting my energy if I worried about it. I let go of my anguish and gave up control. I’m sure it has spared me many hours of overthinking — which I know we all do.
They Turn Negation Into Assertion
Emotionally intelligent people know how to manage themselves in any situation. They aren’t superheroes: they are just self-aware. They can identify their feelings to understand and control them. Why? Because they know all depends on mindset.
Mindset sways how we understand a situation. The same event can be seen as extremely positive or negative by the same person. Intelligently managing yourself means choosing to be positive, to turn negation into assertion. It’s trying to see the glass half full instead of half empty, even if it sucks. Understand you are the only one to be able to change your mindset.
Here are some examples. When you transform negation into assertion:
- ‘I wish I had done better last time’ turns into ‘I will do my best now’
- ‘I am wasting so much time on this’ turns into ‘I am learning so much from this experience’,
- ‘I will never succeed’ turns into ‘this is only the beginning’,
Sure, some situations could always be better than what you expected. That’s always going to happen. But being emotionally intelligent means keeping in mind you can’t change an exterior situation or someone’s response to it. What you can change is how you view a situation. I had to learn this the hard way.
If you want to achieve emotional intelligence, think of it as a step by step task you have to work toward. As you journey through life, try to find the positive in any situation: focus your energy on what you can control and acknowledge the importance of mindset.
- Face your feelings,
- Question yourself and remember things can be out of your control,
- Turn negation into assertion.
Emotional intelligence will help you reduce stress and anxiety. As you get to it, you will see fulfilment in your relationships, your personal life and your work ethic. You’ll live life with purpose, slowly but surely.