Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and those of other people. Mindfulness is essential to emotional intelligence. Most of us have been using mindfulness to regulate our emotions since we first learned how volatile acting on our emotions can be, without realizing what we were doing was actually mindfulness. In our youth, we were taught not to act out, have meltdowns, disrupt social settings, hurt others, yell at others, and to generally keep our emotions contained in a socially acceptable manner. This was part of our socialization in our formative years, but as we grow older it is common to continually find ourselves at odds with our emotions or the emotions of others.
In this article, we’re going to explore how to utilize mindfulness to strengthen your emotional intelligence skills.
Returning to Mindfulness
This is where mindfulness comes in again. Returning to mindfulness will help us fortify our emotional intelligence. Once you learn what mindfulness is and consciously use it, you will be equipped with tools to help you understand your emotions as well as other people’s emotions. When you have fine tuned your emotional intelligence you will enrich all of your relationships and orient your life on what truly matters most to you.
A great place to start with mindfulness is to cultivate an awareness of your own emotions. You can use meditation as a jumping off point to tune into your thoughts and feelings. Meditation is like taking a magnifying glass to your mind. It will help you focus on what emotional patterns you are experiencing and what thoughts are causing you to fall into these patterns. Notice if you feel negative emotions or positive ones and try to notice what this feels like physically. Take note of what you are experiencing and reflect on what is evoking such emotions.
Discomfort, Frustration, and Anxiety
It is ok to feel discomfort or frustration when you meditate on your emotions because many emotions are not clear to understand. A lot of the cognitive reasoning behind our emotions lies in our subconscious which can be very hard to access. Be patient with yourself as you try to unravel the emotions you are feeling. Like any other situation in life, patience with yourself will help decrease anxiety and help you hold onto your commitment of understanding your truth.
Central to emotional intelligence is being able to differentiate between your ego’s narrative and the truth of your experience. When you identify the layers to your emotional experience you will be able to gain better control of your thought process. This is to say that the surface level emotion you are feeling, has layers and should be unpacked.
As humans, we are innately flawed and often behave in ways that do not align with our morality. When you find yourself at odds with an emotion you are not proud of, remember that forgiving yourself is crucial to your success. It is ok to feel and think in ways that go against the rules and norms that society has given us. Just remember to hold yourself accountable and break habits that push you into negative head spaces. For instance, if you find yourself experiencing jealousy, notice it, understand the truth behind it which may be that you are feeling inferior or insecure.
Once you become aware of the hurt or pain underneath your negative emotions, the next step in the process is to try and tend to this vulnerable part of yourself with compassion. Notice the negative feeling, its sensation in your body and then actively reorient yourself on the spaces in your life that you feel proud, grateful or loved. This will help evoke positive emotions and essentially tell your ego to shut up and stop writing tragic narratives. Be mindful of the pain and try to notice how it feels when the pain is met with compassion. Maybe your first instinct is discomfort or frustration. That is ok. Keep practicing love even when it does not feel comfortable.
Understanding the Emotions of Others
Another crucial aspect of emotional intelligence is being able to understand the emotions of people around you. You are going to extend the skills you have learned to regulate your own emotions to those surrounding you. This is empathy. Depending on the neural network in your brain, empathy can be easy or very difficult, everyone has their own unique experience. A great way to strengthen your empathy skills is to notice the physicality of the person or people you are interacting with. Are they fidgeting? Does their face express worry or excitement? How is the tonality of their words? Notice what their non-verbal communication is expressing. This is a tell tale sign of their emotional state. Once you understand where they are at emotionally, you can begin to relate to what they need and, ultimately, respond accordingly.
Mindfulness takes many forms which means it can look like different things. If you find yourself most engaged with group activity, you may consider HuMandalas. HuMandalas is a guided movement group meditation that uses intentional connection, toning, and visualization to get more in sync with others and nature. HuMandalas can help you overcome emotional processing issues with a group of supportive and open hearted individuals. For more information about this form of meditation checkout https://www.humandalas.com.
Think of mindfulness as a tool to cultivate information. With mindfulness you can take a step back and notice all the intricacies that cause emotional reactions. You will begin to know yourself and others in a deeper way. Understanding emotions is no easy feat and even the most emotionally intelligent people mess up and act irrationally. That is ok. Remember to extend love, compassion, and forgiveness to yourself and others when you fall victim to negative emotions. Also keep in mind that if a person or an environment continuously puts you into a bad headspace it is important to remove yourself or set up firm boundaries with said person or environment.
As you practice more mindful thinking you will build trust in your intuition. Mindfulness and emotional intelligence will help guide you to the most fulfilling and enlightening path.
Caitlin is a writer from Burbank, CA. She uses writing as a medium to examine how far words can truly capture an authentic experience of life. Beyond writing, Caitlin is an artist. She’s currently exploring ceramics, illustration, fashion, production design and plans to work creatively in many more mediums.