Emotional Intelligence is linked with higher levels of success on intrapersonal, interpersonal, and career levels. Mental Health America (MHA) defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to manage both your own emotions and understand the emotions of people around you”. Two of the foundational elements of emotional intelligence are self-awareness and self-regulation, and these can both be developed through practicing one simple technique: Labeling your emotions!
I used to think that identifying emotions was a bit unnecessary. If I know I feel bad today, what good does pointing that out do? The thing is, we often don’t actually know what we’re feeling! Taking my example of feeling bad, that’s a very vague feeling. Bad could mean anything from bored to overwhelmed. If I just feel bad, that doesn’t give me any power to change my situation. Though, if I feel disappointed or lonely, I can start to work with that. By getting specific with what you’re feeling, you decrease the likelihood of acting impulsively and increase your ability to handle the situation.
Let’s practice this exercise right now. Click on this feelings wheel and complete this sentence with an emotion word, “I feel ___________”. Aim to choose a word that feels authentic to you in this moment, avoiding downplaying or exaggerating your experience.
Now, how do you feel after labeling how you feel (whaaat)? The super cool thing about identifying your emotion is that it can have an immediate positive effect. When acknowledging an uncomfortable emotion, it’s more likely to dissipate. When acknowledging a feel-good emotion, it’s more likely to increase in intensity. No matter what you’re feeling, labeling it can help!
The next step in regulating your emotion is to choose a course of action that is aligned with your goals and values. Recognize your patterns/typical responses to your emotions and ask yourself if you would benefit from tweaking your behavior.
Yay for human emotions!