Are you emotionally intelligent? Even though excess negative emotion can make us feel miserable, it can also shut down our cognitive functions and make it hard for us to think straight. But being emotionally intelligent doesn’t just help when we’re feeling down. It can also improve the quality of our relationships, increase the likelihood that we’ll make good decisions, and enable us to cope more easily with difficult life transitions or disappointments. In this article, you’ll learn eight ways to be emotionally intelligent:
1. Develop a positive outlook
You can’t control everything, but you can influence how you respond to what happens to you. One way to do that is to maintain a positive outlook, which means thinking positively about your situation and people. If you think, “I’m frustrated because my team isn’t pulling their weight,” you’ll probably respond in a way that feeds your frustration. Remember that you have choices about how you respond and that no situation is hopeless. You can choose to think, “I’m frustrated because my team isn’t pulling their weight,” or you can choose to think, “I recognize that frustration is a normal and even healthy response to this situation, and I’m choosing to take actions that will make a positive difference.”
2. Don’t Dwell on the past
If you’re constantly thinking about and ruminating about the past, you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. We all need to be mindful of our past actions, but dwelling on them can damage your current relationships, feelings, and sense of self-worth. If you’re feeling down, try to remind yourself that you have the opportunity to change your perspective. Instead of focusing on the past, use the time to reflect on your feelings and what you want for the future.
3. Learn from your mistakes
Mistakes are part of growth. Don’t try to cover them up and pretend they didn’t happen — learn from them. If you’ve made a bad decision, take ownership of the mistake and try to learn from the experience. If a mistake has caused someone else pain, try to apologize and tell them you’re sorry. When you try to cover up mistakes or make excuses, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to grow and improve as a person. Be willing to be wrong when you need to, learn from your mistakes, and move on.
4. Express yourself
You might feel like you’re holding yourself back when it comes to expressing your emotions. Don’t. In fact, being open about your feelings can help you get out of a state of emotional isolation, which can make you feel alone and threatened. Expressing yourself doesn’t have to mean yelling at someone or slamming your fist on the table. You can talk to a trusted friend or family member about your feelings or write about your emotions and thoughts. If you keep your emotions bottled up inside, you’ll probably end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
5. Refrain from judging yourself too harshly
Self-judgment is common when we’re feeling down, but it’s also a big barrier to emotional intelligence. You can’t honestly know what’s best for yourself if you’re judging yourself harshly. If you want to improve your emotional intelligence, you must refrain from judging yourself more gently — but not too gently.
6. Stay flexible and resilient
Life is unpredictable, and things are likely to go wrong. If you tend to be rigid and hard on yourself, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed and frustrated when things don’t go according to plan. It’s important to be flexible and resilient because both qualities enable you to bounce back from challenges better than before.
7. Practice mindfulness to stay centered
Mindfulness is about being present with your thoughts and feelings without getting lost in them or judging them harshly. Being mindful also means accepting your emotions without trying to change them — you’re simply allowing yourself to feel them without trying to mask or control them.
Being emotionally intelligent can help you make better decisions, build healthier relationships, and have more enjoyable and fulfilling lives. Emotional intelligence is often seen as a skill that can only be developed over time. In truth, though, it can be developed quickly with practice. Start building your emotional intelligence right now.