Updated: Sep 20
Have you ever considered how emotions affect your behavior, thinking, decision-making, and relationships? We tend to believe that we are entirely in control of our lives and that we are rational beings, but we rarely accept that we, as humans, are irrational creatures by nature. We are governed mainly by our emotions, which can be destructive, but we can also learn how to use them to our advantage.
Would you like to be happier and less stressed or angry? After reading this article, you can master how you feel, behave, and react. If you apply the strategies mentioned below, you will develop self-control, empathy, resiliency, and a strong character!
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and recognize and influence the feelings of those around you.
What makes you human is the variety of emotions - happiness, anxiety, anger, frustration, etc. You experience these feelings daily and can analyze them and keep them in check. If there is, one skill that everyone should learn is emotional intelligence (EQ).
According to Daniel Goleman, EQ has two fundamental roles:
To manage your emotions
To handle the feelings of other people
Understanding how to control yourself and manage the people around you is crucial. The components of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social skills.
"The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions." - John Mayer
Understanding emotions and your brain
Emotions are mental states that we describe as "feelings" triggered by an external or internal stimulus like thoughts, experiences, setbacks, and many others. The common emotions we experience daily are happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, and disgust.
Studies show that emotions are an adaptive response, part of everyday reasoning and decision-making. In other words, your emotions can have a negative or positive say on how you should respond to things and people.
Viktor Frankl said that between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space, we have the power to choose our response, which determines our freedom, emotional intelligence, and success in life.
To understand our emotions, we need to know how our brain works. Robert Sapolsky (American neuroendocrinology researcher) explains the three functional layers of the brain:
The reptilian brain: this is the most ancient part of the brain, and it regulates automatic body functions such as temperature, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and heart beating. It keeps them all in balance.
The limbic system: aka the emotional part of the brain. It involves anger, fear, stress, anxiety, arousal, sexual longing, etc.
The neocortex: It involves thinking, cognition, and decision-making.
Why is it important to learn about this?
Knowing how our brains work can help us understand where our emotions come from and how we can master them. Emotions start in the brain, and they can affect your body. The layers mentioned above are all interconnected.
When you're feeling stressed, your limbic system activates your reptilian brain, and your heart starts beating faster, and with the power of your neocortex, you can calm yourself. This is just one example of how these systems work together. Now let's talk about how you can start managing your emotions effectively.
How To Become An Emotionally Intelligent Person
Research shows that emotional intelligence leads to better job performance and career success. I've also realized that most successful people and historical figures have developed this life-changing skill (EQ), and they are value-and-purpose driven, set goals, pursue their passions and dreams, and are great at dealing with people. If you've wanted to be this kind of person, then you'll love the following actionable techniques:
1. Practice self-awareness
Ask yourself, "Why am I angry, anxious, or stressed?" Maybe that emotion comes from an experience; try to dig deep into your memories, find the root cause of that emotion, analyze it, and learn from it. The past is gone; you can only learn from it. Also, acknowledge your weaknesses, work on them, and watch how your character gets stronger!
2. Think before you react
When you're emotional, take a deep breath to check in with yourself about what's happening. Emotions can cloud your view of reality. That's why you must never make an important decision when feeling a strong emotion. Always step back, increase your reaction time, and put some thinking into the situation.
3. Channel emotions into something positive
Most of humanity's greatest inventions have been possible thanks to the power of emotions. If you're angry or aggressive, try to put that energy into something that will give you positive outcomes. For example, if you're angry about the problems in the world, find solutions that could be turned into businesses or organizations. If you're a writer, you can express emotions in your writing. The possibilities are unlimited.
4. Get quality sleep
Lack of sleep leads to irrationality, so build a healthy sleep routine. Sleep early, avoid caffeine at night, and get at least 7 hours of deep sleep.
Exercise makes you present, and it can boost your positive emotions. Even going for a walk can significantly impact dealing with stress, anger, or anxiety. Give your body a dose of health with daily movement!
6. Practice meditation
This practice will help you improve emotional awareness and give more oxygen to your brain, which can benefit cognition and self-control. Sit for at least 2 minutes, breathe in and out, and quiet your mind. Focus on the now and how wonderful life is.
7. Know yourself deeply
Define what your values are. Know your ambitions and dreams. What motivates you? Reflecting on this will help you build a resilient character. Knowing what matters to you in life makes you more likely to avoid getting upset about useless stuff.
8. Meditate on your mortality
Practice the exercise of Memento Mori. This Latin phrase means "remember that you will die." Marcus Aurelius used to remind himself that he was mortal and let that determine how he thought, felt, and behaved. And you can do the same. Every morning, smile for being alive and remind yourself that your time on Earth is limited. This will help you avoid focusing on trivial emotions.
9. Be empathetic
Put yourself into other people's shoes. Make an effort to understand other people's emotions. As you practice this occasionally, you'll find ways to manage each individual's feelings, improving the quality of your relationships. Finally, accept people as facts. Each person is unique and different. Find their positive side and make them feel important.
The Bottom Line
We live in a digital age where expressing your emotions at any moment is simple. However, we constantly have to be aware of the effects of our behaviors because they can impact us and those around us.
To manage your emotions and live your best life, it is crucial to put the principles mentioned above into practice. Be sure to think when you act, have a positive mentality, and meditate regularly. Additionally, it would be best if you got enough sleep, got to know who you are, and always kept your body fit by exercising frequently.
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