I've heard people talk about how being emotionally intelligent is key to living a healthy and successful life. The whole concept seemed a bit hard to follow through, taking into account how you had to consciously make an effort to be wise with your emotions/responses to life situations. Well, it's easier said than done.
Becoming an emotionally intelligent person means having good control over your emotions and realizing that your emotions are not just about you but affect and impact people around you.
When was the last time you felt completely in control of yourself even after something really triggered your emotions? I'm sure you can think of at least one. We, humans, are such emotional creatures and a good amount of our decisions are influenced by the way we feel about things. While we try our best to stay logical and reason out our choices, there are times we let our emotions get the best of us.
Being a very moody and emotional person myself, I've had times when I couldn't get myself together in certain situations. I acted out emotionally even though I knew deep down that what I was doing was not rational. Alright, in no way is this post a scheme to become an emotionless being as emotions are what makes us human.
However, there are ways we can avoid unnecessary turmoil by being selective with our emotional energy and this post is just about that.
The first step to mastering your emotions is to become aware of how your mind works in different situations. Identifying the kind of emotions you feel when you cruise through life is crucial to understanding how they work for you or against you.
Take your day-to-day activities into account and identify your responses to each one of them and how much they affect you and your environment on an emotional scale.
Take your mind off autopilot
Our past experiences have shaped us into what we are today. Some of our responses to situations are almost automatic like we're running on autopilot.
For instance, you just had a long, hard day at work. You go home and your mom starts nagging about your messy room. There are two responses to this situation. You can either lash out at her and yell that you have enough on your plate already or you can calmly explain that things are hard at work and you need help with things at home. Which of the reactions are you likely to choose at that moment? It's natural we choose the former because our mind is on autopilot. It's difficult to respond calmly, which is natural for most of us.
Like I said, our responses are primarily influenced by our previous experiences and how we've handled them in the past. It's natural to react with our emotions and we may not be able to think rationally. A bit confused? Let me break it down. When I say react to a situation, your reaction is almost automatic without much thinking. It's like your brain has been programmed; if something is annoying you, you need to get angry. If X happens, your reaction should be Y.
This is why you need to take your mind off autopilot. Instead of reacting, take a moment before you respond. This is YOU taking control of your emotions and not vice versa.
Take criticism with a grain of salt
In the book, 'The Four Agreements', the author explains about 4 agreements that you need to follow to live a happy and peaceful life. One of the agreements states 'Don't take anything personally.' Yes, it's as simple as that.
Often, we're too caught up in the mess of people's opinions. What other people think has nothing to do with us but more to do with them. Their opinions are a mere reflection of how they view themselves and perceive the world around them. Let's say, your friend calls someone ugly. This doesn't necessarily define the other person. It only reflects your friend's deep insecurities and what they focus on.
So, the next time someone criticizes you (if it isn't constructive criticism), take it lightly. It doesn't say much about you but more about the person passing the comment.
Learn the art of empathizing
Empathy is the ability to experience or feel what others are going through and engage with their feelings. It's like we're putting ourselves in their shoes and connect with them. While we learn to empathize, we need to have a strong sense of understanding and knowledge as to how emotions work.
The more you empathize, the better you'll be at managing your own emotions. When you start practicing empathy, you're going to get better at analyzing feelings and their cause and effect. Caring for others and becoming an empath not only makes you a better human being but also helps in bettering your mental well-being.
Become a good communicator
Effectively communicating your intentions is one of the best ways to avoid misunderstandings of any sort.
When you're not in a good mood, communicate that you're not feeling that great, that you need space. This is an intelligent way to respond than expecting the other person to guess your emotional state or what you're thinking.
Not everyone is born with the ability to manage their emotions in positive ways. However, building your emotional intelligence is like any other life skill that you can master with regular practice.