New Year`s Resolution: How to master your emotions?
It`s happening again. My nerves are racking. I`m anxiously pulling my hair while thinking of my next blog title.
Ever happened to you to lose it? Perhaps, you know the feeling of succumbing to negative emotions like despair, anxiety, anger or sadness? It might be that they`ve dragged you down way too often.
But there`s a way out. And it`s called emotional intelligence.
After going through resources discussing the concept along with other practical theories like emotional agility and self-awareness, I`ve summarised some key takeaways.
Become emotionally agile
“The most effective way to transform your life, therefore, is not by quitting your job and moving to an ashram, but, to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, by doing what you can, with what you have, where you are.”, Susan David.
Emotional Agility is a science-backed book written by PhD, Harvard psychologist, coach and researcher, Susan David. She created a 4-step process that helps us master our emotions to support our outcomes. Not the other way round. Here`s David`s approach:
1. Show up to your emotions
Don`t ignore difficult thoughts and emotions. Observe them with curiosity and kindness. In other words, forced optimism and smiling through the pain is not a long-term solution. Face negative emotions directly and try to learn from them.
2. Step out
David says that it`s necessary to detach from your thoughts and emotions for a while.
But why? A Harvard study tracked 16 people before and after an eight-week meditation course in 2011. The participants saw positive, physical changes in the brain region related to memory, stress management, empathy and identity.
3. Define Your Want-to Goals
David talks about want-to and have-to goals. Have-to goals are set by others, for example, your boss or your doctor. On the other hand, want-to goals reflect your true values. Wonder how to clarify your values? The author suggests that you write a letter to your future self. Tell the person you want to become in 10 years time, who you are now.
4. Move On
Make small deliberate tweaks to your mindset, motivation, and habits to achieve your goals.
Master Emotional Intelligence
It`s another concept that emphasizes the importance of emotions as a driving force in our lives. As the bestselling author and internationally known psychologist Daniel Goleman said:
“In a very real sense, we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”
Let`s go straight to the point and explore the main lessons as presented by Coleman:
1. Learn the art of self-awareness
What does self-awareness mean? The term refers to the ability to label your feelings. Instead of thinking I`m sad, explore the full spectrum of your emotions and describe them with all the nuances they have – are you desperate, nostalgic, or perhaps deeply disappointed? Self-awareness is about observing and acknowledging your feelings without judging them.
2. Self-regulate your emotions
Emotional self-regulation is about choosing how to react to your emotions. Now that you know how you feel, you can learn to calm down and think before reacting. You can even choose not to react at all if that`s more sensible.
2. Achieve emotional intelligence through mirroring and optimism
Goleman says that it`s important to invest in emotional intelligence because this will help you perform well in business and life.
But you might be wondering: how to do it?
The author says that you can try to observe and mirror the body language of the people you communicate with. For example, if the person you talk to has a straight posture and smiles, try to mirror their behaviour. This will make you more empathetic and send non-verbal signals to the other that they can trust you.
Another thing Goleman advises is to stay optimistic. The idea is to never stop believing that your actions can make a change. If something negative happens, it might be helpful to perceive it as temporary and specific for the given situation. In this way, you can see it as a lesson that can help you improve next time.
Any practical tips?
Theoretical frameworks may be interesting, but they`re…well, theoretical. Want to explore some practical tips to help you become more emotionally intelligent? Here`s my personal list:
1. Labelling emotions
Following Coleman`s advice, I tried labelling my emotions. And it worked. It helped me acknowledge and accept my feelings and all their nuances.
How to do it? Write down your emotions in a notebook, a Word document or an app. Be as specific as you can. This list with synonyms may be useful.
2. Daily gratitude journal
That`s something I started doing a few months ago. My feedback? It`s an absolute mood booster – makes me notice the small things and count my blessings. Even when life gets hard or I feel tired and cranky, there`s still so much to be grateful for.
3. Meditation and breathing techniques
Various research shows that meditations and breathing can make you feel better both physically and mentally. Sit up straight and try breathing in and out, simply observing your emotions without judging them. You can as well try some guided meditations or walking meditation.
New Year = New Chances For Growth
Start the New Year with an open mind. It`s a new chance for personal growth. Emotional intelligence can work wonders for your personal life and career. Why not give it a chance?
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