Continuing our dialogue on Emotional Intelligence, this week we will look at what it means to be Self-Aware. I will continue to use HelpGuide.org by Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jennifer Shubin, to guide our series discussion. “Emotional intelligence is commonly defined by four attributes: 1. Self-management — You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances. 2. Self-awareness — You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have self-confidence.”
As I mentioned in part 1, my EQ test results showed that I need to improve “controlling my impulsive feelings and behaviors.” For part 2, my self-awareness seems to be pretty good, but I will admit that denial tends to seep in when trying to recognize and acknowledge how my emotions honestly affect my thoughts and behavior. I don’t always like to admit that, but I know that I can totally talk myself out of doing what I need to do, I can totally talk myself into feeling sick if I want to avoid something, you get the idea. Our mind is a powerful tool and when it comes to regulating our emotions so that we have more positive thoughts and behaviors, the task can be exhausting. “But being able to connect to your emotions—having a moment-to-moment connection with your changing emotional experience—is the key to understanding how emotion influences your thoughts and actions.” The more you practice the better you get.
There are several Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) activities and techniques that you can use to help you in this process. When we understand our emotions and how they affect our thoughts and then how they affect our behaviors, we can better regulate or manage our reactions. CBT teaches us that all emotions are okay to experience, it is how we respond to them that is the issue.
According to HelpGuide.org by Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jennifer Shubin, here are some questions that you can ask yourself: “1. Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment? 2. Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach, throat, or chest? 3. Do you experience individual feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions? 4. Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others? 5. Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making? If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, you may have “turned down” or “turned off” your emotions. In order to build EQ — and become emotionally healthy — you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, and become comfortable with them. You can achieve this through the practice of mindfulness.”
As you can see the first step toward improving your emotional intelligence is to know yourself (self-management & self-awareness). “A big part of EQ is acknowledging and understanding your emotions, and the influence those emotions have on your surroundings. But before you can recognize the impact, you need to identify the source of your emotions and possible triggers. There are a variety of techniques to build self-awareness, including: Journaling, identifying your values and driving principles, defining your motivation and purpose, or taking an emotional intelligence test or personality assessment.” From Julia Martins at asana.com, Emotional intelligence: 9 strategies to improve EQ in the workplace Julia also recommends: practicing mindfulness, honing your empathy, using active listening, practicing adaptability, building your social skills, welcoming feedback, learning about conflict resolution, & reflecting when in doubt.
I don’t care what you call it — journal, emotions log, anger log, gratitude log — the mere act of writing down your emotions, ALL of your emotions, is therapeutic and a learning experience. Through this process, you are better able to name your emotions, understand what triggers them and adjust your responses accordingly, this IS emotional intelligence, this IS better self-awareness.
“Self-awareness, or the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, is a critical emotional intelligence skill. Beyond just recognizing your emotions, however, is being aware of the effect of your actions, moods, and emotions on other people. To become self-aware, you must be capable of monitoring your own emotions, recognizing different emotional reactions, and then correctly identifying each particular emotion. Self-aware individuals also recognize the relationships between the things they feel and how they behave. These individuals also recognize their own strengths and limitations, are open to new information and experiences, and learn from their interactions with others.” Kendra Cherry from verywellmind.com: 5 Key Emotional Intelligence Skills
Remember no one is perfect and we all must give each other grace when it comes to dealing with emotions. We have to learn to forgive ourselves and each other as we muddle through this crazy life.
Let me know what you think about part 1 & 2. Stay tuned for Part 3: Social Awareness!
Here are some resources on the topic that you may find helpful:
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