How to Become Emotionally Intelligent

How well do you manage your emotions? How about other people’s emotions? Can you read what they’re feeling and use this awareness to improve your relationships? If so, then you likely have a high EQ or Emotional Quotient. 

Unlike other measurements of intelligence, your EQ fluctuates throughout your life and you can drastically improve it through increased awareness. An article from Eric Barker, New Neuroscience Reveals 5 Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent, talks about this in detail.

How do we develop this side of ourselves and how do we integrate this information with your thinking process? It appears to be a matter of mastering the following five steps, according to Eric Barker:


Step 1: Recognize your feelings

Feelings are things like joy, irritation, hunger, fatigue, boredom, confusion, pain, anticipation, pride, embarrassment, tension, and so on. The list is endless and I often advise my clients to get a thesaurus or dictionary and copy down as many “feeling” words as they can find. It is important to refine your repertoire of feelings and feeling words so that you can expand your consciousness about your EQ.

It’s also important to remember that you always feel your feelings first. Because of how you are “wired” thoughts or interpretations come after feelings. It is useful to notice those feelings consciously before your conscious mind decides to ignore them or misinterpret them.


Step 2: Interpret those feelings 

The key element here is to realize that feelings are basically neutral. That is, they are neither good nor bad; they are just feedback. For example, anger may feel unpleasant to you and therefore, something to suppress. However, the feeling of anger is neither good nor bad; it is just feedback about something important for you to know. Try to view all of your feelings as feedback about the way you sense your environment. One person may be triggered to feel angry about something, while another may be triggered to laugh.

Once you get this, try to understand the root of your feelings. What made you feel like this?


Step 3: Label your feelings

Did you know that saying the word “anxiety” reduces anxiety?

Quoting from Permission to Feel, written by Marc Brackett who is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence:

“…participants who were identified as having extreme fear of spiders—arachnophobia—were placed in a room with a caged spider. Some subjects used emotion words to describe their feelings in that situation, while others used emotion-neutral words to simply state the facts. The result? Members of the first group were able to take more steps closer to the cage than the other participants. Additionally, greater use of words such as “anxiety” and “fear” during exposure to the spider was associated with reductions in those emotions.”

Acknowledging your feelings will make you more powerful.


Step 4: Express your feelings and act on them

If you feel hungry or fatigue, it’s easy to decide to eat or sleep. But decision-making is more complex when the feelings are part of a financial plan for your business or a problematic relationship. This is where EQ really helps. Individuals who have trusted their EQ throughout childhood and have refined and developed those skills into adult life are in a much better position to make successful decisions.

You’ll improve any situation, be it familial or business, if you improve your EQ. When you’re able to feel your feelings, interpret them correctly, and then act upon that information, you have an advantage over those who rely solely on intellect to make decisions.


Step 5: Regulate your feelings

Among other things, in his article Barker talks about the power of positive self-talk. Being empathic with yourself it’s like a friend reassuring you and your brain is able to move easier over difficult moments from your life.

This point is enforced in Permission to Feel:

“In one experiment, subjects were shown neutral and disturbing images or asked to recall negative moments from their own lives. By monitoring their emotional brain activity, the researchers found that the subjects’ distress decreased rapidly—within one second—when they performed self-talk in the third person compared with the first person.”


Get to know yourself. Spend time with your friends and family. Make sure you dedicate some time for self-care and your hobbies. It’s easier to analyse yourself when your mind is rested. If you need professional help, you can contact me to schedule an online appointment on my Contact page.

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