Whether we fight, take flight, or freeze under pressure, our instinctual responses to stress shut us down from what we are feeling and disconnect us from our core emotions. When we are unaware of our emotions, they control and manipulate our thoughts and actions and often increase our stress levels in already stressful situations.In many people, a negative childhood experience disconnected them from their emotions early on. It takes conscious and intentional effort to recognize and name the wide range of emotions that we experience consciously and unconsciously. As you strengthen your EQ, you will be able to name an emotion when it arises and identify its source.
To get to know your emotions, start by considering the following questions:
Can you identify physical sensations? Are you able to name the places in your body where you experience specific emotions, such as a tight stomach during high-stress situations, or muscle relaxation during calmer ones? Focusing on your breath can help release stress held in the body.
Can you isolate distinct emotions? Do you experience all of your emotions as one event, or are you able to identify changes in your emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, joy? Can you identify the subtle facial expressions that accompany each emotion? Acting out emotions in the mirror or with a trusted friend can help you identify individual emotions and build your emotional repertoire.
Do your feelings flow gracefully? Do your emotions transition with ease, or do you experience jolts and agitation when your environment and emotions change? If you find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster, decide to step off and ground yourself in your breath and senses as you consider your next move. Techniques such as Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and mindfulness meditation are useful in realizing and maintaining emotional balance.
Do you experience intense feelings? Do you allow yourself to acknowledge the depth of strong emotions, or do you shut down intense feelings? Consider listening to an assortment of musical genres & tempos to bring your own emotions to life. Both lyrics and melodies can be deeply cathartic and may introduce you to an emotion you have not experienced for some time.
Do you value your emotions? Do you consider your emotions when you make decisions, or do you often act impulsively? Do you give yourself the time and space to express your emotions? Journaling is a phenomenal way to get in touch with core emotions and to honor your wide emotional landscape.
An emotionally intelligent person has a strong relationship with their emotions and can anticipate their reactions to challenging situations and environments. They are not influenced or manipulated by others’ emotions, but remain balanced, creative, and constructive. By strengthening your relationship with your emotions through language, you can more fully understand your own individual motivations, needs, and desires and communicate more effectively with others. A strong EQ also increases your ability to remain calm and balanced in situations that appear threatening and allows you to move through life with confidence and ease.