Most people don't know how to manage emotions effectively. This comes at no surprise because this skill is not taught at school or university.
Emotional intelligence is not innate but needs to be learnt throughout the childhood. Rarely do parents learn how to manage their own emotions, notwithstanding passing this knowledge to their children.
Once in relationships, most people uncover the deep truth which is that emotional intelligence is key for enriching life.
Let’s look at the basics first.
What is emotion?
There is no consensus what emotion is but we generally assume that it's a combination of thoughts and bodily sensations. An emotion (e-motion) is a trigger to move into action. Generally, it happens automatically, due to the reptilian part of our brain wired to survive and move us away from dangers. Nowadays, it happens as a rudimental function of survival.
For example, men, when stressed, would prefer to watch TV or play a video game, whereas women would go shopping or eat. That with time may create certain consequences which negatively effect relationships and the overall well-being.
What are the ways to manage emotions effectively?
There are many ways that are explored by psychologists throughout the years.
Here is my favourite simple 5-step process to become more emotionally intelligent.
1. Identify emotions. There are 6 basic negative ones (some include excitement as the 7th): fear, anger, sadness, disgust, desire and happiness. When an emotion is identified, you have more power to control and change it.
2. Decode emotions. Identify if it's a negative one and realise what it attempts to change. There is a secret behind every emotion we have. Understanding the hidden treasure can open more possibilities and discoveries. Ask yourself these questions:
- Fear: What am I afraid of?
- Anger: How am I attacked?
- Sadness: What have I lost?
- Disgust: Why do I hate it?
- Desire: What does it bring me?
- Happiness: What have I gained?
3. Fulfil the underlying need. After the emotions have been decoded and listened to, you can find more effective ways to fulfil your needs.
Finding effective outlets for satisfying our needs is our own responsibility.
For example, if you feel lonely, reach out to have a company of like-minded people rather than blaming your partner for being introverted. If you want to have more respect, identify a project you want to manage and do a brilliant job, rather than feeling angry about your boss not 'seeing enough your efforts'. If you dislike the place you live, use your creativity to change it, rather than feeling sad for not having enough resources.
4. Practice new meaning-making. Instead of the old story and reactive emotions, find a new meaning when you get triggered. Rather than reacting to someone's words personally, find other reasons they might be saying, what you previously might not have observed.
For example, if someone says they disagree with you, instead of feeling disrespected, think that it could be their culture to argue or they might want your attention and that's the way they learnt how to get it. They might be going through a difficult part of their life and don't feel well about themselves.
5. Managing conditions. Finally, change the conditions so you prime yourself to feel better.
For example, if you react to triggers or certain conditions, e.g. feeling hungry, underslept or over self-judged, change this proactively, to feel better. Nurture yourself and learn principles of mindfulness, eat healthier, go to bed earlier, be in the 'now', connect with nature, exercise.
Create the environment to feel good. It's much easier to manage emotions when the conditions are there.
To learn more about emotions and change them to more positive ones, I have created a programme called Emotional Kaleidoscope. I distilled practical tips and strategies on how to deal with negative emotions to change them for curiosity, joy and happiness.
For more information visit http://daryahaitoglou.com/emotional-kaleidoscope/
With love & gratitude,