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  • Writer's pictureLandon Payne

4 Ways To Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence

Full disclosure: I wrote this piece on emotional intelligence for my faves at Kin & Dignity magazine for their blog. However, I exceeded the word count and didn't get to share everything I wanted to. Luckily for all of you incredible people (and me), I have this space to expound upon topics that mean something to me. :-D

When researching new topics to write about, I often discover things that intrigue me. Being open to new ideas and re-learning things I believed to be true has been a cathartic, albeit daunting, process. Of all the things I’ve happened upon, emotional intelligence is one of the most intriguing and rewarding.

When I began my sober journey, I had zero tools at my disposal. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to quit and would do whatever it took to do so. As I waded through various resources searching for anything that could help, emotional intelligence never came up. I'm shocked more people in the sober community aren't discussing the importance of it in recovery. In recovery, emotional intelligence allows us to develop long-term skills and strategies that aid us in staying dry. Alcohol robs us of this intelligence making it difficult for us to emotionally connect with others AND ourselves. Recognizing and regulating your emotions is a core aspect of preventing relapse and maintaining sobriety.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and positively govern our emotions to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Understanding our feelings and how to manage them helps us build better relationships and achieve personal and professional goals. You’ll feel certain emotional responses because you're human, but you are able to process and navigate those feelings while keeping yourself on track and in control. This set of emotional and social skills collectively establishes how we perceive and express ourselves and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

Although positive dialogue with others is vital to a mostly peaceful existence, it’s all but useless if you’re not using the same language with yourself. These four sound practices have been exceedingly helpful in my own journey to growing my emotional intelligence.

Being More Self Aware

Tuning in to your thoughts, feelings, and actions is the first step in growing emotional maturity. Photo by nappy

Being mindful of our emotions and emotional responses to those around us is a great place to begin in growing our emotional intelligence. Take a step back and take a broad, objective look at yourself and how you’re feeling. Meditation, journaling, or simply taking a moment to list your goals, plans, and priorities are great ways to check in with yourself and your feelings.

Being more aware of my thoughts and how they make me feel has done wonders for my anxiety due to overthinking. In the not-so-distant past, I’d catch myself idle and fully immersed in thought about things I couldn’t control and didn’t serve me. Being able to impartially study my thought patterns and concurrent feelings have saved me a few headaches. Literally.

Show A Little Empathy

Having an understanding of how you're feeling and seeking to understand how the next person is feeling helps establish genuine connections with one another that enhances relationships. Photo by Aviz

Considering how others might be feeling is an important quality of emotional intelligence. It may start with self-reflection, but it’s also important to gauge how others perceive your behavior and communication. Note that empathy is not simply “feeling what the next dude is feeling”. Although empathy is innately human, it’s a skill that must be put into practice.

An ideal place to begin is by examining our biases. Lack of empathy is often a result of preconceived ideas and opinions. We can recognize our commonalities while being curious and embracing, without judgment, what makes us unique.

Our experiences influence our empathy. Finding opportunities to mix with other people of different backgrounds and cultures opens up our world while giving our empathy skills a major boost. Opening your heart and mind is its own reward.

Communicate Intentionally

Every conversation is an opportunity to build trust and forge lasting relationships. Photo by Christina Morillo

Our emotions are directly linked to how we communicate and they never lie. By becoming aware of how we feel and the feelings of those around us, we can become exceptional communicators.

Speaking with intention communicates to others what we’re feeling and thinking in a clear, concise fashion. Sitting with our thoughts, as opposed to rapidly firing them off, can do us a great service when in conversation. Ending a conversation with your foot in your mouth is never a good look. If we mind our thoughts and take our time to form fully realized statements, we can avoid such faux pas.

Listening to understand and learn is just as integral as speaking with purpose and transparency. You gain better clarity on the topic at hand and build trusting relationships in the process. Effective listening is undoubtedly a valuable skill to master. Most people have more positive feelings towards others when they feel heard.

Stay Positive

Keeping a positive state of mind has a beneficial impact on both physical and mental well-being. Photo by Craig Adderley:

Emotionally intelligent people understand the power of a positive word or simple gesture of kindness. Filtering all the negative self-talk and focusing on more gracious, positive dialogue not only makes us feel good but also influences those around us.

There are multiple side effects to maintaining a positive outlook on life. It makes us more alert, and less stressed and puts us at lower risk of depression and other mental health problems. Our physical and psychological well-being is well-nurtured and cultivated when we intentionally practice positive thinking.

When embarking on your journey to emotional maturity remove your ego, open your mind, and embrace the being you are without contrary thoughts bearing down on you. Step out of your comfort zone and get to know yourself better. An abundance of fruitful power exists in the mind. It’s up to us to unleash it and become the esteemed, happy version of ourselves we’ve always wanted to be.

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