What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?
The dictionary defines it as: “The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
Have you ever felt a strong and possibly debilitating emotion without understanding why? Or felt your heart turn off or grow cold toward somebody without any clear reason why?
These are signs of low emotional intelligence – where you are not clear on why or how you feel the way you do.
Here’s a simple but powerful tool for tracking and processing your emotions.
If you are someone who is more visual, I recommend using a whiteboard or pen and paper. But you can certainly process with nothing in-hand, as well.
Step 1: What are you feeling?
Identify your emotion/sensation.
As simple as that – recognize what you are feeling. Are you angry, sad, anxious, etc?
Step 2: When did it begin?
Try to remember the moment this emotion rose up in you.
Remember the situation you were in when the emotion first came to you. Were you with your family, friends, colleagues, etc? Or were you by yourself and thinking about something specific?
Step 3: What was the trigger?
Ask yourself why this situation made you feel this way.
This is where we truly dive into emotional intelligence and the ability to recognize emotions in ourselves and others!
You may be tracing this emotion back to 5 minutes ago, 2 days ago or maybe even 5 years ago. It doesn’t matter how far back, you can still resolve the negative emotion.
Sometimes even just knowing when the emotion came on can make all the difference. Slow down, breathe and try to remember the moment a certain thought/sensation/emotion arrived and give yourself permission to really go into it.
Many times, we experience shame when we are going through an intense situation. You may begin to hear lies that tell you things like, “you’re being dramatic” or “you don’t know how to control yourself so stop looking at your emotions and move on already”, or even, “don’t bring this up right now, you don’t want to be a downer”.
But the truth is that emotions are completely normal – even strong ones! We just have to learn how to have a little more grace and self-acceptance. You are allowed to make space for your emotional health.
Step 4: What’s the lie?
Determine the lie behind the negative emotion.
Sometimes certain emotions can be incited because of a lie we are believing somewhere inside our hearts. When this happens, we become triggered and oftentimes start listening to the voice of fear; who begins to try and take control of the situation instead of allowing you to truly deal with it.
We can find the lie behind the fear by following the emotion, going backward, and asking yourself why this feeling/situation/thought is so scary, hurtful, etc.
There are many interactions during a day that pull up memories of the past. Our brain works this way because it is how we learn how to interact with the world – by learning from our experiences. But if we are called to remember a negative experience that has been unresolved, we will be pulled right back to the emotions from when it first happened . Without resolving those experiences in the past, we are trapped in our current lives having to deal with it over and over.
Luckily, we don’t need a time machine to resolve it.
Step 5: What is the truth?
Replace it with the truth.
The truth is that you are a powerful person and you and you alone get to make decisions for your life. You are the only one who controls you.
We have the ability to walk with Jesus and allow Him to take us on a tour of our past and heal our wounds. If you have intense negative emotions that are still attached to a certain memory, I encourage you to invite Him into that place and speak life over that time.
The truth is that although you are feeling afraid, you and you alone can decide what to do with that emotion. No one can resolve that for you. You are powerful and you have the ability to make incredible decisions.
Speak truth over yourself and replace the lie that you are alone, powerless, trapped, etc., with the truth that you are loved, safe, seen, heard, and powerful.
Learning how to be empathetic to both yourself and others will change your life and your relationships.
Give it a try!
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