7 Things You Can Do If You Want To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

how to improve emotional intelligence

Physical well-being is crucial to your survival in life. You try to eat healthy foods, work out, and protect your body from things like cold or hot. You go to doctors for check-ups or to treat diseases. But you don’t navigate life simply with your physical existence. You also navigate life with your emotions. That’s why your emotional intelligence and well-being are equally important.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, accept, and communicate your emotions. But emotional intelligence isn’t something you’re born with. Just like developing expertise in a given area, emotional intelligence is also something you work on to improve.

Unfortunately, not all of us have been lucky enough to grow in households where our caregivers were the most emotionally intelligent. The relationship between our parents or lack thereof shaped our understanding of the world around us.

They taught us to stay away from broken glass to avoid cutting ourselves. But they never let us properly cry over the loss of a toy. We witnessed their fights, but never witnessed an apology.

We learned to find our way to candies through crying and screaming. That’s how we learned to eat our emotions as opposed to taking a break and letting them wash over us. But part of being an adult is accepting the things you can’t change and focusing on the things you can.

You can take matters into your own hands. Just like a regular check-up, you can do your own emotional check-up to see where you are so that you can grow.

So this is a guideline to help you emotionally grow, and develop meaningful relationships with people. But more importantly, it’ll help you develop a relationship with your own self.

How To Improve Emotional Intelligence

Below are very simple, easy things to do to improve your emotional intelligence.

1. Accept yourself.

Accepting who you are is part of emotional intelligence. Because self-acceptance is knowing that we’re all inherently flawed and simply works in progress.

It’s a compassionate attitude towards yourself and knowing that you can fail, mess up, and make mistakes. This means that you can apologize to a 4-year-old without worrying about your “image”.

This is easier said than done. But sometimes, self-acceptance simply means not feeling guilty or apologetic about the way you are!

Imagine having done this. This will save you a lot of conversations where you feel the need to explain yourself to people who don’t even care.

2. Acknowledge your feelings.

We go through a ton of emotions every day. It’s not just happiness and sadness, but also anxiety, fear, confidence, excitement, and envy. Recognizing those feelings is crucial to being able to manage them.

And managing them means letting yourself feel all those emotions and letting them wash over you for how long it takes. That’s how you take control of your emotions.

Otherwise, we become this person we don’t know. We act in a way that we don’t even understand. That’s when we usually become passive-aggressive. And the over-shadowed emotions become our puppeteers.

3. Communicate more.

One major sign of emotional immaturity is waiting for people to read your mind and find out what you think and how you feel. This is the result of unrealistic romantic stories that have been fed to us for years.

We assume that if our partner is really “the one”, they’d know how to make us feel better even if we don’t say anything. Real relationships or friendships take effort.

Nobody’s a mind reader. If you can openly and safely communicate how hurt you are or why you’re upset, it’s a sign that you’re becoming emotionally intelligent.

When you try this, you’ll see that you don’t go to bed and start going over those conversations in your mind where you wish you said more.

4. Stop being defensive all the time.

Being defensive all the time is the result of the false assumption that everybody’s out there to get us. It’s the feeling of being under attack all the time. It makes you take everything personally.

And it makes you expect the worst. And this is closely related to self-worth. Emotionally intelligent people have a pretty firm grasp on their idea of self and self-worth.

When that’s the case, you’re not rattled by every single person that doesn’t agree with you. Similarly, it’s not easy to win you over when someone seems to agree with you. You don’t get upset over a bad word or get excited over a compliment.

So start by caring less and not being defensive all the time. There’s one single thing you can do to cultivate this too. And that’s about empathy.

The second someone triggers you, imagine being in their shoes and assume they’re having a terrible day. That usually softens you and reminds you that everyone has their own stuff going on and not everything is about you.

5. Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is being open about your fears, flaws, and sadness. And it’s not being open to yourself but also towards others. Emotionally intelligent people aren’t afraid of being mocked when they show signs of vulnerability.

They’re confident enough to show signs of hurt. They show disappointment when their trust is hurt. They don’t run away from the feeling or shut down to seem indifferent and unbothered.

Because emotional intelligence doesn’t mean being happy all the time. It also means being confident enough to feel unhappy.

But we’re living in a world where everyone’s trying desperately to put their best self out there. Don’t be fooled by that.

6. Be open to criticism.

Most of us are too scared to explore and question our deep-rooted beliefs. Because unconsciously, we fear that we might be wrong. Finding out that your deep-rooted beliefs are invalid has the potential to cause an emotional crisis.

To avoid that, we avoid criticism. Criticizing them feels like a personal attack. Emotionally intelligent people don’t have a fixed mindset. They believe in mental and spiritual growth and they’re open to change on all levels of life.

That’s why they’re not threatened by criticism. They can openly discuss their thoughts and beliefs. And if that leads to uncertainty, they embrace it.

But this doesn’t mean turning the other cheek. Some people don’t even deserve to converse with let alone discuss with. So remember that criticism is a tool for growth when it comes from a meaningful place.

7. Recognize growth opportunities.

Funny enough, the best times to improve emotional intelligence are the times when we experience great sorrow, loss, trauma, or chaos. Things that shake you to your core and introduce you to frightening instability also possess the best opportunities to teach you how to stay stable.

A rejection, heartbreak, financial troubles, or grief don’t make the most pleasant memories. But they’re the best teaching moments. That’s why it’s important to embrace those shattering feelings so that you become an emotionally healthier person.

During those times, take a second and take it all in. If you’re facing setbacks, failures, unease, or whatever, imagine your future self.

And imagine the way you’d like to react in that situation. Do you wish you stayed cool, calm, and patient? Then do that.

Read Next: Self-Care Practices For Your 30s, According To Neuroscience

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