Skills for Us as Individuals
I believe that there are 6 parts to EI in relationships. The first 4 have us focus on ourselves and the last 2 relate to how we respond to our partners.
- Identify our feelings & Self awareness,
- Effectively communicate those feelings
- Regulate those feelings so they don’t become overly aggressive or passive
- Self – Care /self compassion
Emotional Intelligence skills that focus on our ability to connect with our partners.
- 5. Recognition of Partners’ underlying emotions
- 6. Empathy
1. Identification of Your Emotions & Self Awareness
When I ask folks to identify their feelings, often they can’t do it, instead they tell me their thoughts. Feelings are only one word (i.e sad, happy, anxious, depressed etc…) we will have a number of feelings however in my experience in counseling it is difficult
for folks to identify more than one feeling. You may be angry, but under that you may also feel insecure or unhappy.
Exercise: Think of a significant emotional experience you’ve had.
List 3 feelings that you had about that situation.
How easy was it to name 2 and then find a 3rd feeling?
Self awareness: How often do you stop and take stock of your own emotions. If you are upset with your partner, do you start at 90 miles an hour?
Here’s a way to get a handle on your emotions.
Ask yourself these 2 questions:
How tired or how much energy do I have. Am I physically feeling ill or in pain? If you are in too high an energy state, chances are you might come across as more aggressive, if you are in too low an energy state you might be more negative.
The second question to ask yourself is: What kind of mood am I in? If you are upset, sad, wound up tight vs being calm or feeling O.K. you will come across as more open.
For a more detailed way of figuring out where you are emotionally you can go to:
This page is the result of work that has been done by the Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence which has a highly respected scientific research program, which has influenced much of my thinking in this area.
2. Communication of Emotions Once you identify your feelings how able are you to express them. Crying is an example, may folks cry because they are sad or because they are angry or overwhelmed. Some people go quiet / withdraw others get more aggressive which brings us to the next skill how do you regulate your negative feelings? Once you understand where you are emotionally do you come across in negative ways that are judgmental and rejecting? Do try and understand and have an attitude of compromise and if your partner doesn’t what do you do next?
3. Self Regulation – how often to you “loose your temper”? Learning strategies to convey your feelings with out being judgmental or attacking which turns people off. This emotional skill is the most dramatic and is essential for everything else to work well. If someone comes across to loudly or physically all helpful communication stops. There is an inverse relationship between volume of conversation and really being heard.
The louder the voice the less is heard.
There are many strategies to be used here including
What Marc Bracett and his colleagues call having a
“Meta Moment. It is fortunate that there are many tools to be used for self regulation because if you do not control your response, no amount of emotionally intelligence behavior will be effective.
4. Have a back-up strategy of self – care /self compassion when the communication of your feelings aren’t enough.
Do you take care of your self. Eat properly, exercise, treat yourself without being excessive. Surround yourself with positive supportive people. Sometimes it is not possible to get support even love from your partner, when that’s the case, it’s important to have other resources to make yourself feel cared about. Along with self care is forgiving yourself and finding a way to correct and or to learn from your mistake or regret. Do you give yourself positive self messages and recall the things you are proud of as well. There are many more strategies to be learned during therapy to be self-compassionate.