Growing Emotional Intelligence starts with getting to know yourself better. When we are clearer about the truth of we are, we are able to make ourselves happier and as a result others too.
We need to know what we’re feeling to know what matters to us. We can only be honest with the rest of the world when we are brave enough to get really honest with ourselves. In the words of William Shakespeare (from Hamlet):
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Emotional literacy (the ability to name what we are feeling) is the foundation of growing a solid emotional intelligence. Emotional literacy is being able to label, not just happy, sad, angry, mad or stressed but accurately find words: sorrowful, grieved, anxious, hurt, resentful, joyful when we feel things. This is like learning your ABC’s for reading. Here are three ways to begin to develop this skill:
1. Expand your emotional vocabulary.
Most of us use as few as 10 or 20 feeling words on a regular basis. There are thousands of words to describe emotions. Emotions are data, they hold within them messages and before we can receive the messages we must first know what we are feeling. The more accurately we can connect to the emotions the greater the opportunity for mining the gems emotions offer for our lives. Explore our products page for Emotion magnets to use at home, in the office or classroom. This simple naming tool used daily can be life transforming. You can also find a link Hhere you’ll find a link to a wonderful list of emotion words thanks to Byron Katie.
2. Tune into your body
Emotions are the language of the body. Our body delivers emotional data. Butterflies in our stomach, tension in our shoulders, a tight jaw are often the loudest of our bodies signals. We miss so many others. Emotions are chemicals released in the body and we experience these as sensations. The more aware and tuned into your body the easier it is to tap into the body’s wisdom. The body often knows things long before the mind but its language can be subtle. There is so much more to hear when we begin to tune into our breathing, heart rate, temperature variances and tension. The more aware the sooner we can receive the value emotions are delivering.
3. Going deeper into the feelings
1. Make a list of 5 emotions you feel in a challenging situation.
2. Then make a list of emotions you’d like to feel in this situation.
3. How might you act or think differently if you were emotionally living in the second list.
4. Consider how this might impact your choices?
Take 1, 3 or 5 minutes and just sit feeling the feeling. Imagine that the feeling is just like the weather clouds or rain just be present to it. Does it evolve change? Does it remain stagnant? Ask if it has any messages for you. Writing can be a powerful way for emotions to talk to you.
Consider taking an EQ Assesment on-line and having it debriefed with one of our EQ Experts or even find an EQ Expert who might coach or mentor you to build your Emotional Intelligence.