If you want to cultivate emotional intelligence, say hello to these 9 new habits

by Natasha Combrink | February 13, 2024, 1:46 pm

Have you always wondered what it’s like to understand and manage your own emotions and those of others?

Maybe you get regular mood swings, or you tend to overreact, and you want to change this…

Whatever your reason, effectively handling emotions can improve your life. 

Emotional intelligence can help you build better relationships, make better decisions, and accelerate personal growth. 

People with high emotional intelligence have a few habits that help them stay in control. 

Want to know what these are?

Well, first off they…

1) Reflect on emotions and understand triggers.

Thinking about how you feel and why you feel that way deepens self-awareness. 

When you can recognize patterns and triggers, you learn to understand your emotional responses. This can help you respond better in similar situations. 

Self-reflection is a great way to up your emotional intelligence. It will improve how you manage emotions and enhance your decision-making skills. 

Once you know where your emotions come from, you become more attuned to your feelings and those of other people. And this is incredibly important for succeeding in the next habit you need to cultivate emotional intelligence:

2) Practice empathy.   

Empathy is one of the highest forms of emotional intelligence. It involves understanding and sharing what others feel. 

This goes beyond saying, “Yeah, I can just imagine” when someone tells you about what they’re going through. 

When you have empathy, you can literally feel what they’re feeling. 

If someone’s sad, you’ll be near tears. 

If someone’s angry, you’ll deeply understand the roots of their anger. 

If someone’s facing a challenge, you’ll know exactly why they can’t just get over it. 

Empathy allows you to actively put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It heightens your awareness of other people’s feelings and helps you build better relationships. 

Practicing empathy can be hard at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be more compassionate, kind, and emotionally intelligent

3) Be mindful. 

Emotional maturity is all about being in control of your emotions. This isn’t always easy, I know. People who are highly emotionally intelligent still struggle with this from time to time. 

But once you start practicing mindfulness, staying in the present moment becomes easier. 

Oftentimes, our emotions run wild. We burst into tears about things that aren’t even a reality yet or stay angry for days about something that won’t matter a few years from now. 

And while feeling these emotions is totally okay, dwelling on them or making a situation worse by reacting emotionally isn’t. 

By making mindfulness a habit, you develop the ability to respond to emotions consciously rather than impulsively. 

The heightened self-awareness you gain from being fully present can help you better manage stress and negative emotions. 

Over time, you’ll have a more balanced and emotionally intelligent approach to situations that might have gotten you under in the past. 

4) Learn more and have an open mind. 

Emotionally intelligent people never stop learning and always keep an open mind. This is what helps them understand and relate to so many emotions. 

If you want to improve your emotional intelligence, diving into subjects like psychology and learning about foreign cultures and backgrounds will help. 

This will broaden your understanding of different emotional experiences and responses, making it easier to have empathy for others and yourself. 

Just remember: while you read up or listen to others talk, keeping an open mind is incredibly important. 

No two people in this world feel the exact same way about anything, even when they agree about it. Emotions are complex, and their driving force is unique and personal. 

Being open-minded allows you to deeply understand, even when you don’t. 

5) Accept your flaws. 

We all have imperfections. If you’re still ignoring yours, it’s time you don’t. 

I know being delulu can be great for confidence, but when it comes to emotional maturity, embracing where you fall short can actually help you. 

Whether or not we want to admit it, our flaws can influence our emotions and behaviors. 

If you have a crooked tooth that you’re incredibly insecure about, and someone makes a remark about how you barely smile in photos, you might lash out at them or curl into a ball and cry. 

Or maybe you get a little too defensive when it comes to your opinions. If someone mentions this, you might get even more worked up, accusing them of just not getting your perspective.

Accepting your flaws can help you manage your responses. 

Who knows, maybe the person commenting on your smile actually likes it and wishes you smiled more in photos. 

And the person pointing out that you get a little too defensive might be saying this to help you get your point across in a way that won’t scare people off. 

If you embrace your imperfections, you won’t see any comment relating to it as an immediate attack.

Accepting flaws improves emotional intelligence by helping you become more resilient to emotional outbursts. 

It will also help you master this next habit:

6) Accept criticism.  

When you make peace with your imperfections, you’ll respond to criticism or setbacks with greater grace and composure. 

Criticism isn’t always a personal attack. But when deep down you know you could do better, hearing something negative can trigger an emotional response.

Being open to criticism will help you become the best version of yourself. The right attitude will improve your self-awareness, making it possible to recognize areas for growth. 

A defensive response rarely gets anyone anywhere. It can also put people off from trying to help you. 

Learning to accept criticism will develop your emotional intelligence by creating opportunities for self-reflection and growth. Mastering your response to it will also show others that you have high emotional maturity. 

7) Active listening. 

Fully engaging in conversations is a powerful tool. This habit intertwines with so many others that help develop emotional intelligence. 

Being empathetic is easier when you’re really paying attention to what others are saying. A genuine interest in their emotions and perspectives will help you better understand what they’re feeling or going through. 

Actively listening is also part of being mindful. This habit will strengthen your mindfulness skills and help you learn how to interpret non-verbal cues like tone and body language. 

Genuinely listening to what people say, and not just hearing the words, can also make accepting criticism less painful. 

By being present in conversations, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of others and your own emotions and reactions. That’s why active listening is a foundational habit for emotional intelligence and one you should absolutely practice. 

8) Face emotions head-on. 

Most people never mature emotionally because they run away from anything that involves emotions. Some are scared to face the reality of it, and others just feel intimidated by something so complex. 

Whatever the reason, suppressing emotions or avoiding what others are feeling will leave you behind. 

Your relationships will suffer if the other person needs an emotional connection, and even if they don’t, your own growth will be stagnant. 

Avoiding emotions doesn’t make them go away. 

They just get buried in your subconscious. Weeks, months, or even years later, you’ll react or behave in a certain way that’s actually being fueled by it. 

Facing your emotions will help you understand their origins and learn triggers and patterns. Once you do, managing and expressing your feelings in a healthy way is possible. 

It isn’t easy. But getting into the habit of facing emotions head-on will improve your life and relationships with others. 

Sometimes, talking about the emotional side of things is all it takes to feel heard and valued. And if you’ve never felt this way, just know it makes an incredible difference!

9) Don’t make assumptions or judge. 

If you’re anything like me, assuming the worst is an everyday thing. 

Before I know it, my thoughts have gone wild, and I find myself angry at someone over something they haven’t even done yet and probably won’t. 

The problem with this is that it’s often fueled by personal issues. 

What you assume someone else would do is most likely what you would have done or what has been done to you in the past. 

It’s easier to think that someone else will act a certain way when you’ve experienced it before. 

But developing emotional maturity involves accepting that you can’t judge people based on past experiences or your own standards. 

Assuming the worst or best, or making a call before you have all the facts, rarely turns out as expected. 

If you want to be more emotionally intelligent, you need to practice waiting things out and giving every person and situation a fair chance. 

More likely than not, your rash assumption and emotional response are wrong, making you get all worked up over nothing. 

Being emotionally intelligent helps you control your emotions, partly to protect others, primarily yourself. 

When you have power over your feelings, you control your life more. 

Most people never get over a breakup, move on from a family fight, or succeed, and the reason is often because they can’t see things from a different perspective or control what they’re feeling. 

Practicing these habits daily will help you cultivate emotional intelligence, so this is never you. 

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