Oct 10, 2016

5 Practical Ways To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

“How can I improve my emotional intelligence?”

I’ve had three clients ask me this question over the last week, and whenever something pops up that frequently, I usually take it as a sign that it needs it’s own article.

What is emotional intelligence?

How does having it improve your life? Is it something that you’re just born with? Can you cultivate it?

Simply put, emotional intelligence is your individual ability to identify, manage, and express your emotions, and to identify and empathize with the emotions of others.

Emotional intelligence can be broken down into four primary skill sets: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Self-awareness: being aware of your own emotions, moment to moment, and understanding how your emotions influence your thoughts and behavioural choices.

Self-management: being able to shift, manage, and consciously suppress your emotions when necessary.

Social awareness: being aware of the emotional realities of others.

Relationship management: knowing how to develop and maintain healthy personal relationships with others.

Why Would You Want To Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence?

The benefits of heightened emotional intelligence are plentiful. Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as your EQ, positively impacts your self-esteem, your physical health, your mental health, your job performance, and the quality of your relationships.

While heightened emotional intelligence isn’t a requirement to thrive in life, it certainly helps with a lot of important areas. And, I would argue, that emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly valuable as our world turns more and more towards systems, automation, and robotics, and human beings are starting to crave authentic emotional connection now more than ever.

Regardless of whether you were born with a naturally lower EQ set point, or you were more emotionally attuned earlier on in your life and it was conditioned/discouraged out of you, everyone can improve their emotional intelligence if they’re willing to put in a little bit of work.

Here are five things that you can do to raise your emotional intelligence.

1. Slow down and feel your feelings

When challenging, difficult, or overwhelming emotions come up for us, the default response is to either get busy doing more stuff or to temporarily deaden our emotions using some maladaptive numbing behaviour.

Instead of distracting yourself, slow down and feel your feelings fully.

If you feel anxious, accept that you feel anxious. If you feel the heaviness of grief in your chest, allow it to be there. If you need to cry, then cry.

Ask yourself, “What is coming up for me right now?”

Sit with it patiently and allow the emotion to speak to you.

Don’t judge, rationalize, or bypass your emotions – allow them to come up as they are. Remember, you’re working to get out of your head and into your heart… let it take it’s time to build the bridge to connect the two.

Slowing down and simply allowing your feelings is the first and most effective tool in order to gain emotional self-awareness.

2. Learn to reduce accumulated negative emotions

Have you ever felt stress? Of course you have. But what is stress? For something that so commonly permeates our lives, it never ceases to amaze me how little we understand about it.

Put simply, stress is the accumulation of unfelt feelings. That’s it.

Have a whole bunch of sadness that you haven’t felt? A lot of anger, frustration, or resentment that you haven’t dealt with? As it piles up in your body, you begin to feel the cumulative effects of stress.

It’s harder to differentiate what you’re feeling if there’s too much internal stimuli flooding you.

It becomes imperative that you learn to eliminate stress via emotional processing.

Not sure how to do that? This article on releasing difficult emotions gives you the step by step process.

3. Communicate your challenging emotions to key, trusted people

There will be times when you’re so flooded by your feelings that it will be nearly impossible to understand what’s happening inside of you. Or there might be times where, when you’re first cultivating new emotional self-awareness, a seemingly ‘new’ feeling comes up for you that you don’t necessarily understand.

In these moments, it is perfectly acceptable to confide in a safe, loving, trusted person who you can talk your feelings out with. Explain to them as much as you can, and have them reflect back to you what they are seeing and hearing about your emotional experience.

4. Observe your internal and external reactions to others

One rapid way to increase your emotional intelligence is to start becoming aware of the reactions that you have to others.

Then, allow those reactions to inform you of your own emotional defaulting patterns.

For example, if you find yourself becoming upset/frustrated/triggered by people who (fill in the blank… are always late, are rude to people, cut you off in traffic, etc.) then allow yourself to witness those emotions as they come up. Notice what your default emotional state is when it comes to reacting to others.

Once you notice your small handful of most frequently utilized emotional responses, it will become that much easier to identify and manage those same emotions later on.

5. Learn to trust yourself over time

Improving your emotional intelligence will take time. You’re learning to trust yourself and your assessments of your emotional reality, and the realities of others.

And while it is absolutely beneficial to be open to others feedback of you, don’t take their word as more true than your internal perception of yourself. Ultimately, you are learning to trust yourself more and what you feel yourself feeling is the truth.

Don’t make your feelings wrong for existing. Simply accept them as they are, even if they don’t make sense.

Raising Your Emotional Intelligence Takes Time

In essence, this all comes down to mindfulness. Raising your emotional intelligence is predicated on you slowing down, and gradually becoming more aware of yourself and others.

Have patience with yourself. We’re never taught this stuff in school, and cultivating higher emotional intelligence is a lifelong process.

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll likely also love reading:

How To Fully Release Difficult Emotions That Hold You Back

21 Of The Best Self Care Practices Ever

How To Stop Being So Damn Hard On Yourself

What Our Emotions Are Trying To Tell Us

When Feeling Your Feelings Becomes Damaging

The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion (book)

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

Blog

Related

See All
How To Fully Release Difficult Emotions That Hold You Back
Aug 7, 2016
Jordan Gray
How To Fully Release Difficult Emotions That Hold You Back
Do your emotions wreak havoc on your life? If you've lived for more than a decade or two, chances are there are some deeply buried emotions inside of you that hold you back in your life. You may not be consciously aware of these stuck emotions on a daily basis… but they are clogging you up and robbing...
Continue Reading
Your Life Is A Garden
Mar 5, 2016
Jordan Gray
Your Life Is A Garden
Your life is a garden. And it needs constant attention. Your garden needs water, sunlight, effort, and love in order to truly thrive. If you treat your soil well then nutritious foods and beautiful flowers will be able to spring forth, or... you can treat your soil badly and it’ll feel like nothing...
Continue Reading
How To Overcome The 3 Most Common Challenges In Your Life
Aug 19, 2013
Jordan Gray
How To Overcome The 3 Most Common Challenges In Your Life
The masculine energy in all of us thrives on challenge. One of the main reasons that a lot of men enjoy watching professional sports is the inherent challenge tied into the game play. The player has to get the object into the thing… but, oh boy, there's a challenge in the way! And that challenge...
Continue Reading
How To Be A REAL Man (In 3 Easy Steps)
Jun 26, 2014
Jordan Gray
How To Be A REAL Man (In 3 Easy Steps)
I remember wondering endlessly if I was gay as a young boy. Why? Because I consistently got the feedback from my male peers that I wasn't a traditional male. As my male friends played basketball to impress the girls in our class, I sat on the sidelines and 'gossiped' with my female classmates. While...
Continue Reading
4 Honest As Fuck Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Often
Apr 13, 2016
Jordan Gray
4 Honest As Fuck Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Often
Every day in my journal for the past few months I have been answering a series of questions that forces me to get uncomfortably honest with myself. Between the completion of a significant romantic relationship, losing a close friend unexpectedly, and many other life changes, I have been having a challenging...
Continue Reading
How I Learned To Have Male Friends
Dec 11, 2019
Jordan Gray
How I Learned To Have Male Friends
I was bullied by my siblings for years in my childhood, and my brother was the ringleader of it all. It felt horrible. Like I was unworthy of love. I hated it so much that I tried to kill myself when I was 15 years old. As a result, I built a story in my mind that other men weren't trustable. For years...
Continue Reading