Emotional intelligence isn’t just a fancy term for being “sensitive” or “emotional.” It’s a lot deeper than that.
It’s about understanding your emotions, sure, but it’s also learning how to use these to your advantage.
It’s about understanding how to deal with your issues in a healthier, more productive way.
If anything, it’s a skill often overshadowed by IQ, but arguably, even more critical in our daily lives.
In this article, we’ll delve into 11 daily habits that can help boost your emotional intelligence.
Practical, actionable advice, not just random mumbo-jumbo you might find in another generic self-help book.
1) Naming Your Feelings and Expanding Your Emotional Vocabulary
When you place a label on your feelings, you begin to have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with. It gives clarity.
You’re able to recognize the subtle differences between frustration and anger, between sadness and disappointment, and so on.
You’re also less likely to misinterpret your feelings – meaning you won’t act out of sync with what you truly feel.
You become a master – not a victim – of your emotions.
For instance, when anger surges, instead of being consumed, you acknowledge it: “Hello anger, I see you.”
You don’t let it rule your actions and decisions. Rather, you analyze the reason behind it.
When you’re able to understand your emotions, you can address them, pinpoint root causes, and eventually overcome them.
2) Experimenting With Different Coping Mechanisms
Everyone reacts differently, no matter the situation.
Some people may instinctively seek social support, others immerse themselves in work, and yet others turn to meditation or exercise. It’s important to find coping strategies that fit you best.
They can range from traditional ones like talking to a friend, journaling, and meditation, to more unconventional ones like painting, dancing, or even cooking.
Experiment as much as you want. Reflect on each one’s effectiveness. Do they truly help you, or are they just a temporary band-aid?
My journey with coping mechanisms was a process of trial and error.
Back then, work pressures, family issues, and personal shortcomings all seemed to pile up.
My go-to coping mechanism was to immerse myself in work to the point of burnout.
I realized this wasn’t healthy and eventually found a combination of strategies that work for me: morning walks, reading, and therapy.
3) Visualizing Different Perspectives
Empathy is what allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, to see things from someone else’s perspective.
Just like how a prism refracts light into different colors, each individual refracts the world around them into their own unique point of view.
And when you visualize these different views, you not only gain insight into someone else’s experience but also broaden your own understanding of the world.
For example, when you find yourself in a disagreement, instead of becoming defensive, try to stand in the other person’s shoes.
Ask yourself, “Why do they feel this way?” or “What experiences have led them to this point?”
Similarly, when consuming media – be it books, movies, or news articles – try to see things from different cultural, societal, and historical perspectives.
4) Saying Positive Affirmations
Our thoughts can either propel us forward or hold us back. That’s why when you frequently tell yourself positive affirmations, you’re helping yourself overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts.
Believe it or not, it can significantly improve your mood, boost your self-confidence, and even inspire you to change certain behaviors.
This habit is about shifting your focus from “I can’t” to “I can,” from “I’m not enough” to “I am enough.” Say these positive statements out loud.
Make it a part of your morning routine. Write them on post-it notes and stick them around your home or workspace. The key is repetition and consistency.
5) Reading Books From Different Genres
Reading books is like immersing yourself in a training ground for your empathy muscles. Each book, each genre, offers a glimpse into a different world.
You dive into the mind of the authority, imagine the lives of the characters, and experience emotions that might be completely alien to you.
You get access to a whole spectrum of emotions, perspectives, and experiences.
I remember when I first ventured out of my comfort zone and picked up a history book. It was a struggle. I couldn’t get past one page without rereading it several times.
Luckily, I got the hang of it and as I delved deeper, I found myself developing a newfound appreciation for those who have come before me and how their choices impact the day-to-day life of their descendants.
6) Seeking Constructive Feedback
Don’t shy away from feedback. It can be a powerful tool for personal growth. It’s not just about pointing out what’s wrong.
It’s about understanding your strengths and weaknesses, figuring out a clear direction for improvement, and acknowledging that you have so much room for growth.
Start by asking for constructive feedback from people you trust, may that be your colleagues, family, or friends.
Keep in mind that they’ll probably say something you don’t want to hear. Their feedback might even be hard to swallow.
However, once you move past the initial discomfort, you need to understand that this is a golden opportunity for growth.
You’ll inevitably become more emotionally mature once you can face uncomfortable truths.
7) Regular Self-Reflection
You know, we’re all a bit like sleepwalkers in our lives. We wander around, bumping into things, repeating mistakes, and wondering why the hell we did that. Again.
It’s most probably because most of us don’t practice regular self-reflection.
This habit is about getting down and dirty with your own behaviors and feelings.
It’s figuring out why you snapped at your partner after a stressful day or why that comment from your boss made you feel like a five-year-old.
I remember when I hit rock bottom in my career, nothing seemed like it was going my way. That’s when I began to reflect on my actions and emotions.
And boy, was it enlightening. I began to see how my reactions to stress were affecting my performance.
I noticed patterns and triggers I’d never seen before. I was no long a sleepwalker in my own life but, rather, an active participant.
8) Expressing Gratitude
Here’s a truth bomb for you: We’re always focusing on what’s wrong. Our coffee is too cold; the traffic’s too bad; our relatives are too annoying.
But what about the things that are right in our life?
Gratitude is about appreciating the little joys as much as the big wins. Every day, think of three things you’re thankful for.
It doesn’t have to be anything grand. It could be your morning coffee, a good book, or a friend that makes you laugh. Make it a habit to acknowledge the positive things in your life.
9) Regular Digital Detox
Fun fact: We live in a world where people would rather lose their wallets than their phones.
We’re so hooked on our screens that we can’t imagine life without them.
You see – this constant digital connectivity doesn’t just strain your eyes, it strains your brain too.
It keeps you perpetually distracted, unable to focus and be present.
You also become emotionally reactive, responding to every ping and notification like it’s a matter of life and death.
I’ll be the first to admit that going on a digital detox isn’t easy.
Back when I tried to do it for the first time, it was like trying to quit caffeine cold turkey. The constant stimulation was a big part of my daily routine.
But as days turned into weeks, I noticed that I became less anxious, less reactive. I could enjoy my own company without the need for digital validation. I was more in tune with my emotions.
While the detox didn’t solve all my problems, it definitely made me feel reconnected with myself and more emotionally resilient.
10) Observing Your Emotional Triggers
Emotional triggers are like landmines; they’re ready to explode at the slightest provocation – but if you observe these triggers, you can defuse them.
You start understanding what sets you off and why. You get to see the connection between certain situations, thoughts, and reactions.
11) Asking for Help
This is a tough one for many people, and trust me, I get it. We live in a culture that prides itself on independence.
Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness. It seems like an admission of failure; however, it’s actually a sign of emotional intelligence.
So how do you do this? Well, whenever you feel stuck, you could ask for help from a friend, family member, colleague, or professional.
Don’t let your ego get in the way. You’re not weak. You’re simply showing that you’re self-aware enough to recognize your limitations and proactive enough to do something about it.