From meditation to “Self Help for Dummies,” chances are that if you’re interested in self-improvement, you’ve tried every trick in the book. But have you tried emotional intelligence training?
Emotional intelligence is built on the same pillars as many self-improvement programs; it makes sense that they would go hand-in-hand. Before you can use emotional intelligence training to your benefit, you need to have a thorough understanding of what it is and why it benefits self-improvement.
Let’s take a look:
What’s Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is your ability to recognize both your own and other people’s’ emotions, to tell your emotions apart, and to manage your emotions to the best of your ability. It’s knowing how to use your emotionality as an asset, rather than a liability. It’s embracing your place in the world as an emotional being, rather than suppressing how you feel.
It’s a known fact that kids who receive EQ training early in life grow up to have better outcomes as adults, but it’s never too late to start learning. If you’re not already practicing EQ, now’s the time to start.
Emotional intelligence is built on four pillars: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Here’s how to implement each one into your self-improvement routine:
Self-awareness is the ability to understand your own needs, behaviors, and responses. When you understand what makes you emotional and how you react to those emotional situations, you can get a better picture of how you come off to your peers.
A practical place to start is psychotherapy, where you can get formal feedback about your self-perceptions, but it’s often just as effective to start a journal and pay attention to your actions and the reactions that they cause. Some people also find clarity in the introspection of meditative practice or spiritual yoga.
Once you’ve tackled self-awareness and have some understanding of behaviors or thought processes that you want to improve, you can start practicing self-management to make that improvement happen.
You may find that you start missing deadlines at work when you aren’t sleeping enough, or that you get into more arguments with your spouse when you’re hungry; so make it a point to get eight hours of sleep and eat breakfast every day.
Start taking control of the parts of life that impact your emotional state. When you take better care of yourself, you give your peers and loved ones your best self.
Most of social awareness is simply holding yourself accountable. For instance, if you’ve recognized that you aren’t an empathetic listener, or that you tend to take out stress on your peers, it’s time to train yourself away from hitting the “ignore call” button when your best friend is calling about her latest crisis, or for being rude to the fast food worker who didn’t have any Diet Coke to sell you. Reward yourself with a relaxing bath or a shopping trip when you’ve gone a whole day without letting your social awareness slip.
Emotional intelligence has an enormous impact on relationships, and not just romantic ones. When you work on developing your EQ, you learn how to take care of the most important relationships in your life, whether they’re family, peers, friendships, or a marriage.
Exercise your relationship management skills by learning to be mindful about your relationships. Ask your spouse how his day went, and actually listen. Talk to your coworkers at the water cooler about what they did this weekend. Give your sister a call because you saw a movie that you think she’d like. When you make a conscious, mindful effort to maintain relationships, they prosper accordingly.
No behavior is set in stone, so remember that it’s never too late to start developing your EQ. Emotional intelligence training is some of the best self-improvement that you can undertake, especially if you’re looking for tangible effects on your relationships and lifetime satisfaction. Don’t delay, start training your EQ today.