Emotional intelligence is having the ability to control and express our emotions, which enables us to establish and maintain good relationships, set our personal boundaries, develop empathy and make better life decisions.
Gaining this emotional skill set allows us to become more consciously aware, meaning, we gain a higher awareness of both our external and internal state. Choosing how we would like to respond emotionally to an external situation or person, dramatically decreases our stress levels, improves our decision making, improves our social skills and allows us to become more adaptable to change.
The Emotional Impact On Our Mind:
To develop your emotional intelligence and begin learning the process of how to do this, we will start by taking a look at how our emotions impact and physically form patterns in our mind.
Emotions play an important role in the lives of humans, and influence our behavior, thoughts, decisions, and interactions. The ability to regulate emotions is essential to both mental and physical well-being. “Conversely, difficulties with emotion regulation have been postulated as a core mechanism underlying mood and anxiety disorders.”The Regulation of Negative Emotions: Impact on Brain Activity – Biological Psychiatry
As I go into much more detail here via How The Brain Creates Emotion & Impacts Your Mental Health, emotions, are what first defines our language from infancy to school age – long before we learn the dictionary definition. These emotional definitions are what shapes our thoughts on how we view and receive love, hate, form relationships, respond to success or failure and influence our actions – thus becoming subconscious, habitual
Subconscious habitual behavior is as automatic and routine as breathing and is 30,000 times more powerful than your conscious mind. It is something we do that we do not have to consciously think about. We develop this automatic behavior due to the continual practice of it – the brain physically changes its structure at neuron level, if something is repeated for more than 26 -124 days on average, it makes it feel comfortable, easy or rewarding to us – this process is called Neuroplasticity.
Developing emotional self-awareness changes our perspective on what is occurring outwith ourselves. Accepting full responsibility for the consequences of our actions and thoughts which are currently fueled by our unruly emotions, allows us to choose what affects us and what does not:
…the pursuit of an argument, to allow stress, to feel helpless, to become successful, how we handle external hate, bullying or body shaming, to then make decisions with a clear mind.
So now we can make the choice, do we accept full emotional responsibility or do we allow our mental intelligence to justify our emotional reactions and behaviours?
How To Accept Full Emotional Responsibility:
Accepting full responsibility for our emotions means that we understand and accept the impact they have on our behaviour and responses.
Spiritually speaking, how we feel within is reflected in our perceived reality which does not lie and may be altered through the changing of our own mood.
If we encounter an angry person, someone who is having a bad day or seems to be looking for an argument; we can choose whether we respond negatively or positively. In other words, we have the power, whether their emotions affect or change our mood.
One of the fastest and most effective way to understand and develop our emotional intelligence is through our breath.
Our breath may be unconsciously controlled but we also have the ability to consciously control it due to its location in the cortex of the brain i.e the pace, depth, and longevity of each breath, that has been shown to positively affect our immune system, and have anatomical and physiological connections to our nervous system.
The way in which we breathe will tell the truth of how the limbic system within the brain, is emotionally reacting to our external environment. For example, if you are feeling stressed, your breathing rate will have increased or in some cases, you may have developed the common pattern of holding your breath – if you are sitting an exam or going for an interview – which raises your blood pressure.
All of our subconscious patterns have formed in the allowing of our brain to choose how we emotionally react at any given moment. Habits such as holding our breath in response to stress, not only make us feel worse but negatively affects the mind and body, therefore, once we start to consciously regulate our breath, we can immediately relieve those feelings and with practice, create a new response.
How The Body Controls Our Breathing:
“The respiratory center in the brainstem is responsible for controlling a person’s breathing rate. It sends a message to the respiratory muscles telling them when to breathe. The medulla, located nearest the spinal cord, directs the spinal cord to maintain breathing, and the pons, a part of the brain very near the medulla, provides further smoothing of the respiration pattern. This control is automatic, involuntary and continuous. You do not have to consciously think about it.
The behavioral, or voluntary control of breathing is located in the cortex of the brain and describes that aspect of breathing with conscious control, such as a self-initiated change in breathing before a vigorous exertion or effort. Speaking, singing and playing some instruments (e.g. clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, etc.)”Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz PhD
Controlling our breath sends “neuronal oscillations throughout the brain” – or brainwaves to you and me – which are rhythmic or repetitive patterns of neural activity in the central nervous system. And yet they appear mainly in regions related to our awareness emotions and memory, which cause a more organized pattern versus what is normally experienced during a resting state; unorganized and random.
Learning and focusing more on our breath, is key to creating self-awareness to better improve our mind-body connection, whether it is psychological or a stress-related disorder, anger issue, hypertension, Reuhmeotoid arthritis or asthma, will develop our emotional intelligence – spiritually known as mindful living.
Step 1: How To Breathe Consciously
“Counting breaths taps into the brain’s emotional control regions.” –Forbes Pharma & Healthcare
To begin, whether you are lying down or sitting at your desk, close your eyes and inhale through your nose to the count of 6 and exhale either through your mouth or nose – whichever is most comfortable for you – to the count of 8.
Do this for around 3 minutes and practice it both morning and night to get used to the control.
Tip: Personally, I have found the Sadhgurus method of breathing most helpful; when you inhale imagine it reaching the top of your head and when exhaling, imagine it releasing out the soles of your feet. This will help you breath deeper into the body.
You will immediately feel the benefits of this practice and feel a lot more calm.
Through learning this effective breathing technique, you will oxygenate your brain and relax the mind. Therefore, any time you feel angry, stressed, worried or sad, remind yourself to check in with your breath; put a post-it note on your computer or vanity so that you can even practice this throughout the day.
Step 2: Meditation
Meditation is the quietening of the mind, achieved by focusing our attention onto the breath. However, practising a deeper form of meditation will allow you to become familiar with your emotions.
How To Access Each Emotion With Meditation:
Begin by either sitting up and resting your hands on your legs, with palms facing upwards; or lay down with your arms either side of you. Try and do this in a place in which you will not be disturbed.
Take a few minutes to deepen and modulate your breathing so that you are relaxed.
Once you have quietened your mind through directing your attention onto your breath, you want to use your mind in the same way you would use a ‘back up\hard-drive’ system on your computer.
For example, the same way you would go to your hard drive in order to access an old photograph or YouTube vlog, is the same way you are going to utilize your mind to bring about memories, visuals or sounds that provoke a particular emotion.
In your mind, and one at a time, ask yourself for a memory where you felt happiness or anger or sadness or disgust or fear and repeat this for one week.
Throughout the week, you will begin to gain more control over the emotion you have chosen by getting used to how it feels.
Give your brain time to recall this memory which will be attached to the emotion. Sit in the emotion, do not try to interfere with the memory or feeling, just observe the memory as if it were a movie, feel into it and allow the emotion to naturally subside.
Continuous practice of this will bring about better control of each emotion and as a result, if you wake up one day and stub your toe or get stuck in a traffic jam or have a disagreement with a co-worker – whatever it is that would normally provoke a strong emotional reaction – will be replaced with your chosen emotional response, that does not affect your entire day or week.
If you are not quite sure on what emotion to approach first, below is a guide on the most common human emotions.
The 5 Main, Human Emotions and Examples:
Happiness: This emotion is experienced through being with family and friends, at a party or event, watching a funny movie, receiving or giving a gift, going on vacation or even participating in sport or performing.
Fear: When you feel your personal safety is at risk; where you are afraid or feel you are in danger at an event or location; with a person whom you find threatening or an animal such as a snake, spider or dog.
Sadness: The loss of a friend, family member, business deal, a job or a break-up.
Disgust: This can be something that makes you want to vomit, seeing or experiencing injustice and being unable to do anything about it, unpleasant food, an infection, a smell or even a moral issue.
Anger: This can be brought about by an argument, politics, injustice, substance abuse, heartbreak, taxation, death, betrayal and so on.
This is emotional intelligence and imagine, just how powerful you can become when you combine the use of your logical intelligence with your emotional intelligence!
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Sending you all love and light,