You can’t just ignore the way you’re feeling. I can’t tell you how many people I know who just shove their emotions down. It’s understandable, it’s the way they were taught to be. For a long time western society has made it clear that it is “impolite” to talk about anything that makes our emotions spike or dip. We don’t want to upset or excite anyone. This is why we don’t talk politics, money, religion. We don’t talk about them because 1. They make our emotions ebb and flow. The funny thing is though, if we talked about them we would have a good reason to learn how to be emotionally intelligent.
Learning how to regulate your emotions is a surprisingly popular idea right now. Learning emotional intelligence is considered important enough that now many elementary schools teach something called The Ruler System wherein children talk about emotions as colors: blue is sad, yellow is happy, green is calm, and red is upset. This system is meant to help the children talk about their emotions, therbye teaching them how to recognize, name, and eventually monitor the way they react with their emotions. Thank god we are teaching children how to do this, but the fact is, we adults need emotional intelligence training just as bad as the kiddos do. If not worse.
How can you take control of your own emotional intelligence? And react to life in a more intentional emotionally way? Here are some ways you can work on your own emotional health.
Decide to be honest and vulnerable with yourself
When you feel something complicated, do you push down the emotions and try to pretend they aren’t there, lying not only to everyone else, but to yourself as well? instead of burying the emotion, try to sit with it for a second. Don’t panic. The moment you can calm yourself down and not run from a feeling is the moment you have started to have control over it. You gain control by allowing it to be there, by removing the fear.
Good. Now that you can just feel it, try to think about the way you’re feeling physically. What is the emotion doing to your body? Does your stomach hurt? Is your heart pounding? Are your eyebrows knit, or your nose muscles wrinkling? Understanding the way emotions affect your physical body can help you better connect your reactions to different situations and can validate the factual reality of your emotions. Physical reaction justifies the emotion as more than just “in your head”, a dismissive phrase used to derrida complicated emotions. The funny thing is, it really is all in your head. Physically. Emotions are physical reactions to chemicals in your brain. Information comes in through our senses, neurons in our brains fire, chemicals are released and voila! You feel something. They’re real and concrete, so be honest with yourself about them and stop pretending they don’t exist. That’s the first step to emotional intelligence.
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