If you’ve followed us emails for a while now, you’ll have seen us mention that stress is caused by negative thoughts that lead to negative feelings.
Those feelings lead to negative behaviour, which makes our stress get worse.
However, if you can recognise that negativity, you can then pause, acknowledge it, and choose to move on or behave a different way – effectively managing your stress.
It’s not a case of ignoring any negative thinking, but being able to know that in many situations you have a choice over how you feel and what you do.
To do this, we need Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in a positive way.
It can help us relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and diffuse conflict.
If you have a high Emotional Intelligence, you are able to recognise your own emotional state and the emotional state of others.
You can use this understanding of emotions to relate to other people better.
You can form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work and ultimately lead a more fulfilling life.
Here’s what you need to do to practice Emotional Intelligence:
An event happens. This can be anything that happens to get your attention. Is it challenging or stressful?
Ask yourself – what is the event, and what does it mean to me? Our interpretations are the data we give ourselves. Will the event be of benefit to you, or will there be a cost?
Pay particular attention to feelings that are not either positive or neutral.
Are you getting the results you want? If not, what response do you have to change to get different results? What is the cost of your behaviour at work, or at home? What would the gain be if you changed this behaviour?
This process has to start with listening – both to yourself and to others.
There’s more about Emotional Intelligence and how to gain self-awareness on our Developing Resilience course.