I was watching an episode of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda on the Investigation Discovery Channel one night about an ex-boyfriend who ended up murdering his ex-girlfriend. Lt. Kenda mentioned something about emotions that stuck out to me which was…“emotion has the terrible habit of overcoming judgement”. Emotions come at us fast and at times they can knock us off our feet. Being able to acknowledge and understand our emotions can help us to manage them more successfully as they come.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
It is possible to master your emotions but it takes practice like anything else. First, it helps to understand what the difference is between emotional and intellectual intelligence (IQ). The term EQ was coined by psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in 1990. HELPGUIDE.ORG defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Having this ability helps us relate to others emotionally.
Fortunately, what makes EQ different from IQ is that it can be learned at any point during a person’s lifetime. We can adjust our behavior to respond more positively to certain stressful situations that may arise. Only then can we embody the characteristics of EQ which are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. When I first examined my own emotional intelligence I started with these characteristics. I was honest with myself about whether I truly recognized my emotions and their effect on others, as well as the way I managed my impulsive feelings and behaviors.
Why is EQ Important?
Before you examine your own EQ you should know why it is important to do so. The ability to be self and socially aware directly affects how you manage your behavior and your relationships. As a result, your school or work performance, health, and relationships may be positively or negatively impacted. Having a high EQ at school or work enables you to perform at your very best by appropriately dealing with difficulties that may arise. As most of us know, those individuals who tend to display level headedness when faced with various situations on the job typically move into leadership roles and excel throughout their careers in general. In fact, employers also recognize the value of hiring employees who are skilled at managing their emotions according to careerbuilder.
Lacking self-awareness and self-management skills may also cause your physical and mental health to suffer. Stress often goes hand in hand with negative emotions. If this is a continual pattern you could end up with a serious health problem like high-blood pressure, putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, mental health could be jeopardized by the combination of unchecked emotions and stress. Bouts of anxiety and depression could become a reality making it difficult to relate with others. One’s ability to manage their relationships suffers as it is hard to communicate your feelings to others when you do not have a good grasp on them. It is also difficult to process the feelings of others in return.
Time to Examine Your EQ
According to HELPGUIDE.ORG, here are several questions you should ask yourself in order to determine what kind of a relationship you have with your emotions.
- Do you experience feelings that flow?
Are your emotions changing like the weather from situation to situation or do you manage to maintain a calm demeanor no matter what is thrown at you?
- Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach, throat, or chest?
If so, this could be a sign that your emotions are controlling you and causing stress. This stress is triggering physical symptoms that could escalate.
- Do you experience individual feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?
Being aware of your micro expressions especially when they are tied to anger can help with nonverbal communication.
- Can you experience intense emotions that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others??
If your emotions tend to be overwhelming to others around you and even yourself, this could be an indication that they are controlling you instead of the other way around.
- Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making??
This seems pretty obvious, but do you think about your emotions at all? Considering your emotions is the first step to making better decisions. Ultimately, this relates back to self-awareness. When you understand how emotions affect your thoughts and behavior, only then can you be emotionally prepared for stressful experiences. This quiz from MindTools may also be helpful in assessing your emotional intelligence and it’s just interesting to know!