Are you aware of how you feel and how you respond to those feelings? We can go through our day on automatic pilot, which works fine for tasks that do not require thought such as brushing our teeth or taking a shower.
There are times, however, when being mindless about situations causes us to react instead of respond in a proactive manner. If we get an email or call that angers or upsets us, do we stop to think about the emotion, where it came from and how to respond in a way that results in beneficial outcomes? Or do we unconsciously react in a manner that undermines and/or sabotages relationships with self or others?
This is an assignment for master’s students in my Working with Emotional Intelligence class. The first step toward developing emotional intelligence is to become self-aware. When we are aware of how we are feeling inside, we are more likely to consciously choose a response rather than reacting without thinking about the results of our actions.
I ask my students to take time to be aware of how they feel in situations and why. Recognize their emotions and the effects of those emotions.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What am I feeling right now?
- What has caused me to feel this way?
- What are the thoughts that follow that emotion?
- How does that thought align or not align with my values?
- Have I experienced this before?
- What can I change to bring the thoughts more into alignment with my values?
I invite you to try this: target a problem situation and increase your awareness about the emotions, thoughts and reactions regarding the problem. You do not have to do anything different during this time—simply be aware of how you are feeling, what is causing those feelings and how they correspond with your core values. Remember, this is the time of self-awareness; you do not have to fix anything—just be aware, starting from the inside.