Did you ever think back on some of the important decisions you made in your life and wonder “What was I thinking?” or “Did I really do that and why?” Not using your emotional intelligence may be to blame for those bad decisions and actions.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. EQ is synonymous with self-awareness because it enables us to live our lives with intention, purpose, and autonomy.

Many of us move through life making important decisions based on our current circumstances. We may perceive them as being beyond our ability to change, thus limiting our options and solutions. Taking time to reflect and examining why we decide to do what we do enables us to lead lives determined by our conscious intentions rather than circumstances alone.

Developing EQ can greatly influence our success. Our personal situations and intelligence are factors as well; however, EQ can profoundly affect our choices by creating options we may not have otherwise imagined or considered to be possibilities.

Below are some ways in which you can cultivate and increase your EQ:

  • Self-awareness.
    This is the ability to label, recognize, and understand your own emotions. Self-awareness requires us to tune in to our feelings and not avoid our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and sadness. Recognizing our own emotional states and how they affect our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions is the key to cultivating self-awareness.
  • Emotional regulation.
    Emotional regulation has to do with our ability to control strong emotions by not acting on raw feelings in an impulsive or destructive manner. Developing the ability to sit with unpleasant feelings and to give ourselves the time and space to decide how we may alleviate or reduce negative feelings cultivates self-confidence. Emotional regulation also helps us develop the ability to consider various solutions to a particular situation or problem. Not reacting solely from an emotionally charged state results in better decision-making outcomes.
  • Empathy.
    When we empathize with others, we develop deeper, more intimate relationships. Empathy is the ability to recognize how and why people feel the way they do. Empathy allows us to anticipate how our actions and behaviors influence other people as well as our own. Developing empathy skills enhances our experiences, relationships, and general understanding of ourselves, other people and the world around us.
  • Social skills.
    This is a very broad term. In general, having strong social skills means having the ability to communicate in a clear, concise, and courteous manner. In a nutshell, good social skills are the summation of all of the components of EQ: self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy.

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