Monday, 25 February 2008

Resilience: 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 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 people are able to accurately recognize and comprehend emotion, both in themselves and in others, to appropriately express emotion, and to be able to control their own emotion so as to facilitate their own emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. In short, emotionally intelligent people intentionally use their thinking and behaviour to guide their emotions rather than letting their emotions dictate their thinking and behaviour. People who are highly emotionally intelligent tend to also be highly emotionally resilient.
In order to become more emotionally intelligent, it is necessary to develop the following five skill domains:

§ Self-awareness. Self-awareness involves your ability to recognize feelings while they are happening.

§ Emotional management. Emotional management involves your ability to control the feelings you express so that they remain appropriate to a given situation. Becoming skillful at emotional management requires that you cultivate skills such as maintaining perspective, being able to calm yourself down, and being able to shake off out-of-control grumpiness, anxiety, or sadness.

§ Self-motivation. Self-motivation involves your ability to keep your actions goal-directed even when distracted by emotions. Self-motivation necessarily includes being able to delay gratification, and avoid acting in impulsive ways.

§ Empathy. Empathy involves your ability to notice and correctly interpret the needs and wants of other people. Empathy is the characteristic that leads to altruism, which is your willingness put the needs of others ahead of your own needs.

§ Relationship Management. Relationship management involves your ability to anticipate, understand, and appropriately respond to the emotions of others. It is closely related to empathy.

These various skills work together form the basis of emotionally intelligent behaviour.
People come to the challenge of emotional intelligence with different strengths and weaknesses. Where some find it easy to develop self-awareness and empathy, others have a difficult time, or don't easily recognize the need. Luckily, emotional intelligence (likewise emotional resilience) is something that can be cultivated and developed. You have the ability to learn how to better work with emotions so as to improve your mental, physical, and social health


Top Ten Suggestions to improve emotional intellegence.

Label your feelings, rather than labeling people or situations.

"I feel impatient." vs "This is ridiculous." I feel hurt and bitter". vs. "You are an insensitive jerk."
"I feel afraid." vs. "You are driving like a idiot."

2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.

Thoughts: I feel like...& I feel as if.... & I feel that

Feelings: I feel: (feeling word)

3. Take more responsibility for your feelings.

"I feel jealous." vs. "You are making me jealous."

4. Use your feelings to help them make decisions.

"How will I feel if I do this?" "How will I feel if I don't"

5. Show
respect for other people's feelings.

Ask "How will you feel if I do this?" "How will you feel if I don't."

6. Feel energized, not angry.

Use what others call "
anger" to help feel energized to take productive action.

Validate other people's feelings.

empathy, understanding, and acceptance of other people's feelings.

8. Practice getting a positive value from emotions.

Ask yourself: "How do I feel?" and "What would help me feel better?"

Ask others "How do you feel?" and "What would help you feel better?"

9. Don't advise, command, control, criticize, judge or lecture to others.

Instead, try to just
listen with empathy and non-judgment.

10. Avoid people who
invalidate you.

While this is not always possible, at least try to spend less time with them, or try not to let them have psychological power over you.

First, thanks to Stephen Covey for the title idea. Second, these 10 habits are based on a mixture of my defintion of EQ and the more academic definition of emotional intelligence offered by John Mayer and his research colleagues.

Developing Your EQ - Summary and Suggestions

Use three word sentences beginning with "I feel"

Start labeling feelings; stop labeling people & situations

Analyze your own feelings rather than the action or motives of other people

Ask others how they feel -- on scale of 0-10

Make time to reflect on your feelings

Identify your fears and desires

Identify your UEN's (Unmet Emotional Needs)

Express your feelings - find out who cares - spend time with them

Develop the courage to follow your own feelings



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