Emotional intelligence, often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions, plays a crucial role in our daily lives. Recently, a memory resurfaced when my son accidentally broke our windshield, marking the third time in less than a year we needed a repair. This incident made me realize the stark difference in emotional upbringing between my son and myself.
As a child, I was afraid of making mistakes or damaging things due to the intense reactions I’d face from my mom and stepdad. Broken plates or dented appliances always resulted in yelling, shaming, tears, severe punishment, and family quarrels. My only reference for handling stressful situations was what I learned from my parents.
However, my perspective began to shift when I became a parent myself. Faced with the choice of perpetuating this cycle or forging a healthier path, I chose the latter. When my son accidentally broke the windshield, I couldn’t help but reflect on how differently my own childhood experiences had shaped my emotional responses.
Why am I sharing this? Because I believe we all can benefit from improving our emotional intelligence, or as my therapist calls it, emotional agility. This introduction serves as a prelude to a new series on enhancing our emotional well-being.
Defining Emotional Intelligence
First and foremost, I want to clarify that I am not a psychologist or researcher. Always consult a healthcare professional for health-related concerns. This post is based solely on my personal learnings, findings, and experiences.
Emotional intelligence, often referred to as emotional quotient or EQ, encompasses the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. My therapist aptly describes it as emotional agility, highlighting its power. Emotional agility allows you to respond thoughtfully, rather than react impulsively.
Cultivating emotional intelligence offers numerous benefits, including stress relief, effective communication, empathy, conflict resolution, stronger relationships, goal achievement, and better decision-making. It involves four main attributes:
1. Self-Management: This entails controlling impulsive feelings and behaviors, managing emotions healthily, taking initiative, following through on commitments, and adapting to changing circumstances.
2. Self-Awareness: Recognizing your own emotions and how they influence your thoughts and behaviors, acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, and developing self-confidence.
3. Social Awareness: Demonstrating empathy, understanding the emotions, needs, and concerns of others, discerning emotional cues, feeling at ease in social situations, and recognizing power dynamics in groups.
4. Relationship Management: The ability to cultivate and maintain positive relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, collaborate effectively in teams, and manage conflicts.
Signs of emotional intelligence include:
– Identifying and describing people’s emotions.
– Being aware of your strengths and limitations.
– Possessing self-confidence and self-acceptance.
– Letting go of mistakes.
– Embracing change.
– Cultivating curiosity and a desire to learn.
– Demonstrating empathy toward others.
– Taking responsibility for errors and being open to feedback.
– Managing emotions in challenging situations.
– Prioritizing progress over perfection.
– Maintaining balance in your life.
– Holding space for gratitude.