Let’s kick off with a few questions:
- When was the last time you checked in with your emotions?
- Are you aware of the people, situations or conversations that alter your emotional state?
- And just who is (or what is) in control of your emotions?
Life is busy for everyone and so it is not surprising that little time is taken out for self. But the truth is in order to become emotionally intelligent you have to take time out and get in touch with your feelings.
Being able to observe both your thoughts and feelings without judgment will help you become more emotionally aware and also help you to figure out the messages that your emotions are carrying.
More often than not you ‘feel’ something based on a current situation you are experiencing or something from the past. Only by taking time out can you start to understand ‘why’ you are feeling that way, what has brought that feeling to the surface and what you want or need to do about it.
An easy way to monitor your emotions is to keep a daily journal. Take 5-10 minutes each day to write down how you feel and start to recognise any patterns; the days you feel more ‘stressed’ than others, situations that increase your ‘anger’. etc
A lot of time is spent externalising feelings; it is someone else’s fault, some situations fault but less frequently is responsibility taken. Understand that information you receive from your five senses is filtered way before you are aware of it and it is thereafter that your emotions are triggered.
The filtering process:
- Firstly the Limbic System kicks in – this is the part of the brain that controls your emotions
- Then your beliefs follow – your beliefs are based on your experiences, your upbringing, your knowledge
- Then the meanings you place on the events – how you choose to interpret the information
So if someone is arguing with you and you dislike arguing because it makes you feel upset, it is easy to ‘blame‘ the other person for upsetting you. However, the fact remains that whilst their arguing may be offensive to you the feeling and meaning you attach to it is your choice. The ‘trigger’ of what you feel might be based on previous experience as your brain filters to find ‘similar’ situations when you were in an argument and you start to feel the same emotions as before or it might be that your beliefs about arguing are so strong that they bring about your emotional response. Either way, some filtering has taken place prior to your feeling of upset.
Any of these seemingly ‘automatic’ feelings can be changed through coaching, NLP or hypnosis.
Your emotions are yours, built on your mind map and experiences. Expecting other people to know how you feel is demanding, to say the least. No two people have the same mind map (that’s what people experience the same situation but can have very different view points about it) and therefore communicating your feelings is vital.
Some key points to help with developing your emotional intelligence:
- You are not your emotions! It’s not what you feel but how you respond to those feelings that matter. So when you feel a certain way look for the message in the feeling without beating yourself up and focus on how you are going to act – this is the important choice.
- Empathise with others – Where other people are concerned, try to put yourself in their shoes, to understand what might be going on inside of them, with them. What might they be feeling?
- Crush the Fear! So often fearful emotions are caused by events that have yet to take place (a work presentation, a speaking engagement, etc). You run it like a film in your mind, blowing it out of all proportion (focused on all the things that are likely to go wrong). This is setting you up for failure. Whilst it is good sense to think of possible hitches it can be done positively by coming up with solutions; ‘If this happens I will do this’. Plan for success! And there are some great NLP tools that help with this kind of self-sabotage.