Why emotional intelligence is a pandemic essential

And how you can master this skill with simple practices

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has burst into our lives without so much as a knock and started making its changes. Long cherished plans were canceled, jobs were lost, and socialization moved online. And the only thing we could do was accept the newfound reality of absolute uncertainty.

It is no wonder that such turbulent times take their toll on one’s mental health without much mercy. We had become overburdened with emotions we couldn’t name and had to go on with our lives as if nothing had happened. It won’t be much of a spoiler to say that this strategy had no other outcome than burn-out, apathy, or depression. Yet, it doesn’t mean that we are doomed. Navigating our lives through the pandemic does have a solution. Ready to find out what it is? Go on reading!

Emotional intelligence who?

The most necessary step to make is to focus on boosting emotional intelligence (EQ). The Economic Times defines it as the capability of a person to manage and control their emotions and the emotions of others as well. The popularization of EQ can be hugely attributed to the psychologist Daniel Goleman and his groundbreaking book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.’ The author deems this skill to be a success prerequisite and advocates for nurturing it.

Thus, emotional intelligence as an applied knowledge comes especially in handy with all the COVID-induced challenges. In this respect, this superpower is not only about healthy communication with your roommate during the stress of lockdown. It is also about adapting to the new social environment, job market crisis, and other issues. 

According to a study published by the Journal of Health Psychology, EQ serves as a solid mediator to help overcome pandemic worries. By nurturing our emotional intelligence, we can deal with the hardships of COVID-19 reality more efficiently.

The importance of being emotionally intelligent has probably reached its all-time high. And it naturally poses a question — how do we boost this capability? If you are ready to get answers, let’s dive into our self-development journey.

‘Know thyself’

Without any doubt, self-awareness is vital when it comes to mastering emotional intelligence. Not only identifying but understanding your emotions increases the quality of your life.

‘Helping people better manage their upsetting feelings — anger, anxiety, depression, pessimism, and loneliness — is a form of disease prevention. Since the data show that the toxicity of these emotions, when chronic, is on a par with smoking cigarettes, helping people handle them better could potentially have a medical payoff as great as getting heavy smokers to quit.’

 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

When you are paving your way through an emotional labyrinth, it is crucial to realize that every feeling is trying to tell you something. It acts as a signal from your brain that something has to be fixed. For example, experiencing anger doesn’t make you an angry person. Instead, it draws your attention to the fact that someone could have crossed your boundaries. 

To boost your self-awareness, you can implement the following practices:

1. Journal

If you’re an old soul, get yourself a nice notebook and let it store your deepest worries. Then, whenever you feel overwhelmed, grab a pen and start writing. No deadlines or limitations whatsoever. It will help you get all the negativity off your chest, allowing you to explore your emotional self.

Indeed, if you prefer typing, you can journal on your laptop. But keep in mind that we feel more connected to the words and process them deeper when writing with a pen.

2. Consider therapy

Therapeutic counseling is a great help when it comes to cultivating self-awareness. A trained professional will identify what is holding you back from being in touch with your emotions.

3. The Feeling Wheel

As we know, the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. In this case, the first step to resolving an emotion is to recognize it correctly. And usually, the biggest hurdle to understanding your feelings is a lack of language for it.

One of the tools to master emotional semantics is The Feeling Wheel. It will also help you become better at communicating your feelings with others.

4. Reflection

Another way of becoming more self-aware is by reflecting on your emotions. You should especially contemplate whether you have civilly dealt with them. Keeping track of your mistakes and critically analyzing them gives you an opportunity for growth.

Become the master of your feelings

‘Emotional self-control — delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness — underlies accomplishment of every sort.’

 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Emotions often steal the wheel from the rational brain. Then they steer far into regrettable actions and inconsiderate phrases. That is when self-management needs to come into play.

Learning how to manage your emotions in the spur of the moment is not a one-day process and takes a lot of effort. But don’t we enjoy a good challenge, especially when the prize is becoming a better person? So here are a few tips to be a self-management pro:

1. Take responsibility for your feelings

Sometimes we can’t control the situation we find ourselves in, but we can control our reaction. And if someone makes you angry, realize that you have to hold yourself accountable for your anger. We can’t share ownership of our emotions with others — it’s a private party for one. It may be overwhelming, but see it as the power to be the master of your mood.

2. Get a mood diary

It boils down to this scheme: write down a reaction and a situation that led to it. In some time, you’ll see a bigger picture of your feelings. It will let you learn your primary triggers and prevent negative emotions from happening in the future. 

Also, in his book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,’ Daniel Goleman explores deeper how emotions drive us to act a certain way and what to do about it. So if you need more detailed advice on how to be your own emotional manager, give it a read. The summary of Goleman’s book is available for your self-growth journey on the Headway app.

Empathy, empathy, empathy!

Ah, the magic of picking up the social cues and detecting the feelings of other people. It is impossible to exaggerate the significance of empathy when it comes to emotional intelligence. After all, this skill is what makes social awareness and relationship management possible.

Some believe that empathy is an innate trait, but you can nurture it. And here is a strategy for that:

1. Attune to feelings of other people

When you are interacting with others, turn on your feelings radar. Try to recognize what your companion is feeling at the moment to connect with them genuinely.

2. Active listening

It is mind-boggling how often we think about our turn to speak instead of listening to the other person. No matter the conversation, do your best to engage and really hear what people say to you.

Emotional intelligence is this season’s must-have

Emotional intelligence is not a brand new concept. But it is unquestionably in high demand during the COVID-19 era. And as the everyday uncertainty continues, EQ will stay the number one skill to develop. Therefore, it is time to stop being the puppet in the hands of your emotions and make them work for you.

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