You think intelligence—you think IQ test, which is meant to measure math, logic and verbal skills. But it turns out there’s another kind of intelligence that’s vital to your brain health and the wellbeing of those close to you: Emotional intelligence (EI). There are many measures of EI. Simply, it’s your ability to relate and interact with others. This may seem like a natural skill, but it’s worth looking into exactly what emotional intelligence entails. After all, the quality of our social relationships are essential to maintaining our health and beauty.
First, you have to become familiar with your own feelings, so you can use them to make decisions you’re comfortable with.
Emotions can be messy, so managing your emotional life without getting caught up with anxiety or anger is extremely important. If you continue to be aware of how you truly feel, pursuing your goals despite setbacks will become easier.
As you become successful in attaining your personal goals, having emotional intelligence means you can handle other people’s feelings with harmony. This requires such skill because your family, friends and coworkers will often have different feelings and ideas that may challenge you to reframe your goals. We often need to strike a balance between fulfilling our needs and the needs of those around us. We need to have an idea of how our behaviors and actions will affect those around us.
Having empathy is a large part of having a good sense of emotional intelligence. In general, it’s your ability to read other people’s emotions without them having to explicitly telling you what they’re feeling. So much of communication depends on being about to read body language and other cues.
Making Rational Decisions with Emotional Intelligence
Now let’s take a look at how emotional intelligence can specifically help you deal with the stresses of things like work and finances. Thinking with your emotions can help you manage your actions. Yes, we’re hardwired to react, not think, with emotions. It’s obviously a good thing—it’s what your ancestors used to get you here.
Patients who undergo strokes that knock out their emotional centers can no longer make rational decisions. Case in point: We need the emotional center of the brain to make rational decisions. Emotional intelligence is broken down into four skills that can help you cope with stress and make better decisions.
ID-ing emotions: Tangibly identify what you’re feeling—make sure to look deeper than surface-level reactions. Let’s say you’re jealous of someone’s success. Ask yourself: Are you truly jealous or just upset that you haven’t achieved what you wanted to?
Facilitating emotions: When you feel multiple emotions, think about different points of view to help you solve problems. From our jealous example, identify your obstacles and figure ways around them, rather than letting the jealousy derail you!
Understanding emotions: Emotions aren’t black and white. We all experience complex chains of emotion. We can learn to understand and even change people’s emotions, be they bosses, coworkers or customers.
Managing emotions: This skill doesn’t mean hiding your crying until you get to the restroom. Rather, it’s what lets you figure out whether an emotion is appropriate, so you can solve problems that are emotionally based. Next time you’re feeling jealous, you’ll be able to harness that emotion more quickly, to better manage your feelings and behavior.
Once you get comfortable with this foundation for your stressor-control, you can tackle your unique problems. It’s useful to distinguish between the two decision-making processes: controlled/thoughtful vs. automatic/emotional/impulsive. That’s because many decision-making problems (like with money) happen when there’s a tug-of-war between the two.
Some decisions are clearly impulse buys (great purse!), but more often than not, our financial decisions are a mix of the two. For example, you probably bought your home with a controlled and thoughtful process. The reason you fell in love with it was more weighted by the emotional than the autonomic part of your brain.
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