Many people have a difficult time understanding how their emotions function as they grow up. So it makes sense that people simply avoid what makes them uncomfortable and stick onto what makes them happy.
The issue is…
Making choices based solely on your emotions is a surefire way to fail and be unhappy.
People who are emotionally sophisticated, on the other hand, have a more complex understanding of how emotions function. And the simpler it is to deal with your emotions in a healthy way, the better you understand them.
These 6 habits are a fantastic place to start if you want to develop a better awareness of your emotions.
1. They Make Time to Clarify Their Values
People that are emotionally intelligent often consider and define their values.
They constantly work to be cognizant of what they could be unknowingly avoiding and to be certain of what they wish to move toward.
However, this can be quite challenging…
One is that it’s simple to gravitate toward things that appear and feel significant or useful but may not be, sometimes because the costs would be too high:
- pursuing the next job opportunity or raise in pay, despite the fact that doing so may result in you spending even less time with your loved ones.
- enrolling in graduate school (and taking up an additional $80,000 in student loans) because you don’t know what else to do and you think your parents would be impressed by your decision because, hey, more education!
- Even though you aren’t saving anything for retirement, buying that new iPhone since it is great and will undoubtedly increase your productivity is a good decision.
In other words, the distinction between true values and misleading values can often be quite subtle. Even if it is obvious, the importance of short-term wishes and wants often outweighs the importance of long-term ideals and goals. This all means…
It’s critical to regularly identify the goals we’re truly pursuing in life.
I once had a client who had a small routine with her spouse to ensure that their marriage was strong and headed in the right direction
This is an excellent illustration of a simple yet effective habit that improves quality of life while raising self-awareness about one’s ideals.
Start with a bucket list if the idea of meditating on your beliefs seems lofty, complicated, or even a little daunting. Spend a half-hour on a Saturday morning sitting down with a nice cup of tea or coffee, a pen, and some blank paper. Just begin writing down the things you’d like to do, study, or generally dream about.
One of the biggest steps toward realising your principles is simply being conscious of them and occasionally reflecting on them.
2. They Talk About Emotions in Plain Language
Most of us have the habit of intellectualising our emotions when we talk about them because we have a tendency to view unpleasant emotions as problems.
When you transform a simple emotion or feeling into an idea, concept, or metaphor, you are intellectualising your emotions.
- You use the phrase “I’m just a little off today” rather than “I feel sad.”
- You say “I’ve just been feeling a little stressed out” in place of “I’m afraid.”
- You say, “I’m just upset,” as opposed to saying, “I feel frustrated with you.”
However, here’s the issue…
Actually, intellectualizations are deceptive avoidance tactics.
Imagine that a coworker asked you, “Hey, what’s wrong,” while you were feeling incredibly guilty and disappointed in yourself for a mistake you had made at work.
Which of the following statements feels less frightening:
- I’m really embarrassed by the error I made.
- Just a little bit stressed out. I’ll be alright.
The first one is scary because it exposes you to more vulnerability by telling people how you actually feel when you use straightforward emotional language. However, using a notion like “stressed” is more nebulous and ambiguous.
The issue is…
By constantly avoiding unpleasant feelings, you educate your brain that they are bad, which only makes them worse the next time they arise.
Practice expressing your feelings in straightforward words if you want to have a more complex and healthy relationship with your emotions.
3. They Take Responsibility for Their Actions
People with high emotional intelligence accept accountability for their behaviours, which are the only things they can genuinely influence.
But accepting responsibility is more than just a mental exercise…
The majority of people have a conceptual understanding of personal accountability. People that are emotionally sophisticated understand that grasping something isn’t enough. They are aware that they need to practise accepting responsibility and remind themselves of it frequently.
Being on time is a problem for many people. They frequently arrive late for occasions, turn in work late, and are generally slow at keeping their commitments.
Now, the majority of these individuals would agree that it is their obligation to arrive on time. However, they don’t genuinely alter their behaviour.
A person with more emotional intelligence, on the other hand, would be aware that they need to come up with a strategy to motivate themselves to be punctual.
If they consistently arrive late for work, they might set a repeating alarm on their phone, prepare for the next day the night before, or agree to carpool so they would be held accountable to others.
People with strong emotional intelligence recognise that understanding is required but not sufficient for lasting transformation. They understand that we must take concrete activities to make them possible if we are to be fully accountable for our actions.
They assume responsibility for both the objective they want to reach and for creating the procedure they will use to get there, rather than relying solely on willpower, good fortune, or good intentions.
4. They’re Compassionate with Their Suffering
Being compassionate with oneself in difficult situations—approaching your faults and pain in a kind, reasonable manner without going to extremes—is a solid sign of emotional intelligence.
The one thing that almost all of my clients have in common, in my experience as a psychologist, is that they don’t have the habit of self-compassion.
Ironically, while most of us do a pretty excellent job of showing compassion to others, we do a poor job of showing compassion to ourselves:
- When you make a mistake, you immediately begin to judge yourself, using critical self-talk and dire prognoses.
- When you experience anxiety or fear, you automatically judge yourself as weak and minimise your suffering.
- You compare yourself to others when you’re unsure or perplexed, hoping that doing so will make you want to solve the problem.
In other words, you tend to be harsh on yourself when you make mistakes or experience suffering. This is most likely a result of a culture that promotes self-criticism as the only means to happiness and success in life.
However, I don’t see any proof that being hard on oneself would ultimately lead to greater success or pleasure. If anything, those who have achieved success likely did so despite, rather than as a result of, their lack of self-compassion.
The remedy for self-criticism is self-compassion.
It’s important to note that practising self-compassion doesn’t imply that you’re weak or spoilt; rather, it simply entails viewing your errors and faults objectively:
- Self-compassion entails accepting your shortcomings for what they are while avoiding ruminating on them.
- To practise self-compassion, keep in mind that you are more than the sum of your transgressions. Much more.
- Self-compassion entails understanding that simply while you’re feeling horrible, you’re not necessarily bad.
The capacity to be kind to yourself is the greatest strength.
5. They’re Curious About Their Own Mind
People that are emotionally sophisticated often ponder about their own minds.
Emotionally sophisticated people have a curiosity about their own brains and inner world, just like a smart scientist is inquisitive about the environment and uses their innate curiosity and observations to lead later theory and testing.
- They find it odd that remorse, not fury, was their initial reaction to being cut off on the motorway.
- They observe a trend of pessimistic and optimistic thinking in various domains.
- They ponder the more fundamental assumptions driving their behaviour.
Being aware of the fact that we are all inherently curious, especially about ourselves, is the key to developing self-curiosity. But for many others, a conflicting habit of self-criticism has stifled their inner curiosity.
When you’re always critiquing yourself, it’s difficult to be interested about oneself.
Practice being more kind with yourself if you wish to lessen the too critical attitude toward your own thoughts and enable your innate curiosity to emerge. Keep an eye on your self-talk patterns and work on rephrasing it in kinder, more understanding words.
This doesn’t imply turning into a foolish optimist. It’s important to be kind to yourself and realistic. It involves treating yourself with kindness and honesty, just as you would treat a good friend.
Create a more accepting internal dialogue so that your innate curiosity can flourish.
6. They Keep Their Expectations in Check
Most people erroneously believe that expectations promote development and success:
- Having high academic standards for our children motivates them to succeed in school and at employment.
- Setting high standards for our staff motivates them to perform effectively and produce high-quality work.
- Of course, having extremely high standards for oneself results in improvement and personal growth.
At least, that’s what we believe.
High expectations actually serve as a coping mechanism for our own inadequacies and fears.
This is how it goes:
- People generally detest uncertainty. For instance, they feel fear and dread at the thought that their employees won’t perform their duties without continual supervision or that their children won’t be successful and happy.
- But since parents have little real influence over their child’s academic performance or the output of their employees, they make do with hoping for those outcomes.
- It temporarily reduces some of that tension and uncertainty when you imagine the thing you desire to be true in order to form an expectation in your mind. It gives you a slight sense of increased control and assurance that everything will work out fine.
- Your expectations, however, are just mental fabrications that you have created. They are frequently not supported by a lot of evidence. This means that these expectations are probably going to be broken a lot, which will cause both you and the individuals you are expecting things from to feel a lot of tension and aggravation.
Expectations are typically unconscious protective measures we employ to boost our own egos.
Expectations are useful sometimes. But if you’re not careful, they may easily become out of control and start creating a lot of unneeded worry and misery.
People with strong emotional intelligence have the habit of periodically reviewing their expectations to make sure they don’t deviate too much from reality.