Do you have a hard time dealing with your emotions? You’re definitely not alone. In fact, many people don’t know how to actually identify the emotions they’re feeling. Wikipedia defines emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. Even though this skill is highly crucial, a statistic from Harvard business shows us that fewer than 20% of companies even qualify as emotionally intelligent. In order to be truly successful in many areas of life, having emotional intelligence is a key component.
In this blog post we are going to talk about all things emotions including some of the signs that you might be overly impacted by emotions. We are also going to define what emotions really are and give you some tips to practice emotional intelligence. If you’re looking to improve in this area, you’ll definitely want to continue reading!
Are emotions controlling your life?
Without even realizing it, your emotions might be running the show. Emotions aren’t something we can visibly see, only something that can be felt, and sometimes they can go under the radar. Many people have learned how to suppress or hide their emotions so well that they have become numb to their feelings.
The good news is that when properly dealt with and expressed, emotions are a healthy and productive part of the human experience. If you have a suspicion that negative or repressed emotions are controlling the way you think, feel, and act these are some signs:
- You’re constantly keeping busy
- You avoid confrontation
- You’re easily triggered
- You’re quick to react instead of thinking about how to respond
- You often numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, overindulgence
Distraction and avoidance are two things that keep people stuck in not knowing how to properly deal with their emotions. You might think that these two behaviours are helping you stay in control of your emotions, but in fact the opposite is true.
What are emotions?
Emotions are quite interesting when you really think about it, they’re made up of three main components, a subjective experience, a physiological response, and behavioural response. Emotions are a reaction to an external event or situation. An example of this could be feeling joy when you see someone you love, or feeling fear when you need to do a presentation. Emotions influence our daily lives and without knowing how to deal with them functionally, can overwhelm us.
As human beings, we have the capacity to feel a wide spectrum of emotions from euphoria to anger. The most important practice when it comes to identifying how you deal with emotions is to see if there is balance. Without balance, you may be riddled with too much fear that can lead to anxiety. With too much pent up anger, it can lead to self-destructive behaviors and coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, or doing drugs.
In the next section of our blog, we are going to give you some of our best tips to practice emotional intelligence so that you’re in the driver’s seat instead of emotions running you.
Emotional Intelligence Tips
Take a moment to pause:
When we’re in an emotionally charged state we can tend to react quickly or respond without really thinking things through. Feelings of stress, anger, hurt, or frustration can activate our fight or flight response which comes from the sympathetic nervous system. If you give yourself a chance to pause before reacting it creates space between what’s happening in the body and what you actually want to communicate.
Practice breathing when feeling overwhelmed or anxious:
Worries get the best of us all at some points, when you’re consumed with anxiety and what-ifs a great practice is leaning into the breath. Imagine the breath like an anchor, it can help to keep emotions at bay and provide you with security. When you practice deep breathing you deliver more oxygen to the brain which in turn helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps you to get out of your head and into your body, making you more calm and more present.
Sit with your feelings:
We live in a society of distraction and avoidance. It has never been more easy to numb our ignore our uncomfortable feelings. While many people think it’s better to not feel negative emotions, the opposite is true. When you resist, feelings will persist. One way of gaining emotional intelligence is to practice actually sitting with your feelings. As hard as it can be, sometimes the only way out is through. By giving yourself time and space to process and deal with emotions you’re allowing your mind and body to accept them. Eventually you’ll teach your body to understand that all feelings are temporary, even the tough ones.
How do you speak to yourself when you’re dealing with negative emotions? Do you show yourself kindness or tear yourself down? Another great way to develop emotional intelligence is to practice self-compassion. If you don’t know where to start, self-compassion can look like comforting yourself, writing yourself a letter of encouragement, or being more mindful. As humans we all deal with a wide range of emotions, the best thing you can do is to learn how to be at peace with them and fully accept them for what they are, just feelings.
Building emotional intelligence takes time and practice, it won’t happen overnight but can absolutely improve a little bit every day. No one is an absolute master of their feelings and emotions at all times, after all, we’re only human. But being able to identify where an emotional trigger is coming from or sitting with uncomfortable feelings can improve your life immensely.