Emotional Intelligence: How to Make Emotions Work For, Instead Of Against You

Some years ago, while trying to understand how emotions work, I read Tim Lahaye’s book titled “why you act the way you do”. That was the first time I came across four behavioural attitude of man with respect to their emotions; the Choleric (the angry one), sanguine (the optimistic one), phlegmatic (the calm one) and melancholy (the moody one).

An individual with a choleric tendency would easily express anger at the slightest provocation or unfavourable situation, a sanguine on the other hand is always on a happy mood and very optimistic. For phlegmatic, they remain calm no matter what you throw at them, while a melancholy expresses mood swing for a long time, usually for obvious reasons. All these four traits have their special emotions. Since every human falls into at least one of these behavioural categories, it’s important to find ways of navigating through them, especially if we hope to succeed in life. That’s when Emotional Intelligence (EI) comes into play.

Being one of the keys to both personal and professional success in life, emotional intelligence is a factor that affords an individual the capacity e to control and handle interpersonal relationships empathetically. But to utilise emotional intelligence, one must understand what defines it. In his Book ‘Emotional Intelligence — Why It Can Matter More Than IQ American psychologist, Daniel Goleman, lays down four crucial concepts surrounding emotional intelligence –Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

That said, here are ways EI can be harnessed to work for you;

Find the Flip Side

Emotions often reflect our wants and needs. As such, it could be channeled from negative feelings. In other words, if at anytime you feel negative about something, gently redirect your attention by asking yourself what you actually want. Here are instances:

  • Fear is triggered by a loss of safety. To understand feelings of fear, ask these questions, “What do I want to be protected from?”, “What would make me feel more secure?”
  • Stress is triggered by the perception that we don’t have the resources (time, money, ability) to achieve certain goals. These questions could help understand your stress; “What is important for me to achieve and why?”, “What will make me feel more capable of achieving it?
  • Sadness is triggered by loss. To understand your feelings of sadness, ask yourself, “What do I wish I could hold onto?”, “If I could get anything back, what would it be?”, “What is precious to me?”

Finding the answers to these questions takes a step further in making your emotions work for you.

Examine it all in one go

Emotional Intelligence - Examine like microscope Image

According to Marie Kondo, “the only way to clean up our emotions is examining them all in one go, rather than chipping away at the mess of bits. True enough, there comes relief when you lay out all of your issues at once because it helps you to see how they affect one another, spot the ones that no longer deserve a space in your emotional “closet”, and get them off.

For example, when we discuss our pain, we tend to merely skim the surface of our experience, get fixated on just one aspect of our feelings, or dwell on one particular  event. To examine it in one goal one has to keep talking even you feel like resisting. Asking questions that will make you look at all facets of the pain in one (long and uncomfortable) conversation.

Say thank you

It might sound odd, but appreciating your negative emotions makes it easier to release them. Learn to say “thank you” to your pain for trying so hard to protect you. Like people, once your pain feels heard and appreciated, it is less likely to keep talking rather than being overwhelmed and broken down by it.

Watch your reaction to stressful situations

African man depressed emotional intelligence

Do you become upset every time there is a delay or something does not happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry with them, even when it is not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – in the business world and outside it. Keep your emotions under control when things go wrong.

Less of you, more of others

Do you seek attention for your accomplishments? Humility is a wonderful quality, and it doesn’t mean that you’re shy or lack self-confidence. Sometimes, silent confidence is the best way to go. Asides that it draws to you, less attention and pressure, you give others a chance to shine. So, put the focus on them, and don’t worry too much about getting praise for yourself, it will always come.

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