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Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

There are real health and wellness benefits for being resilient. It's something worth striving for, if you aren't already that way. Importantly, resilience is a learnable skill. Most anyone can become more emotionally resilient if they work at it.

Growing in emotional resilience requires that you work towards greater self-knowledge. It is important, for example, that you to learn to identify how you react in emotional situations. Becoming aware of how you react when stressed helps you gain better control over those reactions. A good framework to help guide you towards becoming more aware of your emotions is something called Emotional Intelligence.

The term 'Emotional Intelligence' was coined by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. It can be defined as your ability to use your emotions intelligently and appropriately in different situations, combined with your ability to use emotions to make yourself more intelligent overall. Emotionally intelligent peo...More

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What is Emotional Intelligence?

  • Emotional Intelligence can be defined as your ability to use your emotions intelligently and appropriately in different situations, combined with your ability to use emotions to make yourself more intelligent overall.
  • Emotionally intelligent people intentionally use their thinking and behavior to guide their emotions rather than letting their emotions dictate their thinking and behavior.
  • In order to become more emotionally intelligent, it is necessary to develop the following five skill domains:
    • Self-awareness - involves your ability to recognize feelings while they are happening.
    • Emotional management - involves your ability to control the feelings you express so that they remain appropriate to a given situation.
    • Self-motivation - involves your ability to keep your actions goal-directed even when distracted by emotions.
    • Empathy - involves your ability to notice and correctly interpret the needs and wants of other people.
    • Relationship Management - involves your ability to anticipate, understand, and appropriately respond to the emotions of others.

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How can I identify and manage my emotions?

  • You can begin the process of identifying emotions by asking yourself questions that will help you understand the ways that emotion has affected you. Good questions to ask include:
    • What am I feeling now?
    • What are my senses telling me?
    • What is it that I want?
    • What judgments or conclusions have I made (and are they accurate)?
    • What is this emotion trying to tell me?
  • The answers to these questions are key to using your emotions to move toward your life goals, rather than allowing your emotions to use you.
  • Often, your body reactions suggest important clues to what you are feeling. For example, if your face begins to get warm while you are talking with someone, you may be embarrassed; if you have "butterflies" in your stomach, you may be nervous; and if your head pounds, your heart races, and you feel increasingly tense and hot, you are probably angry.
  • You can also learn to identify emotions based on the way they make you feel, think and act. For example, maybe certain memories come to the surface of your mind when you are feeling sad that aren't there at other times.
  • Consciously knowing what you are feeling and why may suggest steps you can take to help you change your feelings.
  • Understanding your emotions makes it possible for you to manage them so that they work for rather than against you.
  • If your sadness (or anger, or anxiety, etc.) would normally influence you to act in a way that might hurt yourself or someone else, becoming aware of that emotion can enable you to take steps to not act in that destructive way.

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How do I know if I have an anger management problem?

  • Like other emotions, anger is experienced in our bodies as well as in our minds.
  • Anger is a fundamental emotion that everyone experiences from time to time.
  • An anger problem exists when people become dependent on anger as a primary means of expressing themselves; when they inappropriately use anger or the threat of violence as a weapon to get their way. Inappropriate and uncontrolled anger is harmful for both targets of anger and the angry person as well.
  • Inappropriate anger destroys relationships, makes it difficult to hold down a job, and takes a heavy toll on angry people's physical and emotional health.
  • Help for anger problems exists in the form of anger management programs which are coordinated interventions designed to help angry people learn and practice methods of bringing their anger under control.
  • Learning to control your anger will be an ongoing task as you will need to rethink your automatic responses towards people.

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What is stress and how can it be managed?

  • We can define stress by saying that it involves the "set of emotional, physical, and cognitive (i.e., thought) reactions to a change."
  • How intensely stressed we feel in response to a particular event has to do with how much we need to accomplish in order to meet the demands of that situation.
  • How vulnerable you are personally to becoming stressed out depends on a variety of factors, including your biological makeup; your perception of your ability to cope with challenges; characteristics of the stressful event (e.g., the "stressor") such as it's intensity, timing, and duration; and your command of stress management skills.
  • Biofeedback techniques can be used to help people gain conscious control over their bodily stress processes, and cognitive techniques can be used to help people gain conscious control over their mental stress-inducing processes.
  • That your thoughts determine your mood is a good thing, because while it is difficult to alter your feelings at any given moment, it is always possible to re-evaluate and change your thoughts.
  • The cognitive theory of emotion suggests that our self-talk (our "automatic thoughts" and our beliefs) is influential in determining whether we will experience eustress or distress.

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