4 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People - Deepstash
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Summary

Emotional intelligence is the result of good habits, not nice ideas. And if you want to improve your emotional intelligence, commit to these practices:

Let go of unhelpful thoughts

Accept difficult emotions

Handle your mistakes with compassion

Choose values over feelings

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Let go of unhelpful thoughts - Idea

While our instinct to think more and think harder serves us well most of the time, there are still a lot of situations when more thinking makes things worse

Thinking hard is a tool. And like any tool, it can be used well or poorly.

Emotionally intelligent people understand when a situation can benefit from more thinking and when it will only make things worse.

  • Practice letting go of unhelpful thoughts, even if they’re true.
  • Exercise your ability to refocus your attention, instead of letting it wander anywhere it pleases.
  • Work on being aware of your thoughts without thinking more about them.

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Let go of unhelpful thoughts - Examples

  • When an irrational worry is spinning through your mind, thinking more about that worry rarely fixes anything and usually makes you feel more anxious.
  • When you’re lying in bed at 2:00 am not sleeping, thinking more about why you’re not sleeping is only going to keep you awake longer.
  • Once you’ve reflected on a mistake and tried to learn from it, ruminating on it over and over again will only make you feel miserable.

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Accept difficult emotions - Idea

It’s natural to run away from painful feelings. But that only makes them stronger in the end.

How you react to things—especially emotionally charged things—teaches your brain what to think about those things in the future.

More than understanding that just because something feels bad doesn’t mean it is bad, emotionally intelligent people train themselves to react to painful emotions with acceptance, not avoidance.

Because here’s the thing: When you accept your emotions with willingness, you teach your brain that they’re safe and normal however uncomfortable they feel.

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Accept difficult emotions - Example

  • If you consistently try to escape your grief by using alcohol or drugs, you’re teaching your brain that grief and sadness are dangerous. Now you’re anxious about grieving.
  • If you immediately try to calm yourself down any time you feel anxious, you’re teaching your brain that it’s bad to feel anxious. Now you’re going to become anxious about getting anxious.
  • Just because you feel anxious speaking in public doesn’t mean public speaking is dangerous and you should avoid it in the future.

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Handle your mistakes with compassion - Idea

The habit of self-critical negative self-talk doesn't motivate us to be better in the future. All it does is discourage you because it keeps you feeling anxious, insecure, and full of self-doubt

What if you changed your self-criticism habit into a self-compassion

Self-compassion simply means treating yourself after a mistake like you would treat a friend: with kindness and encouragement.

In practice, try this:

  • Acknowledge the mistake for what it is.
  • Accept that you are helpless to change the past.
  • Focus on what you can actually control moving forward

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Handle your mistakes with compassion - Examples

  • We tell ourselves that if we don’t study harder we’ll fail and not get into a good college.
  • We tell ourselves that if we don’t “suck it up” and “push through” our coach will think we’re lazy and we won’t get to play.
  • We tell ourselves that if we keep acting awkward no one is going to want to hang out with us.

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Choose values over feelings - Idea

The heart of emotional intelligence is the ability to subordinate your feelings to your values.

The problem is when you get in the habit of making decisions based exclusively on how you feel because your feelings will get you into trouble just as often as they will help you.

To become more emotionally intelligent people, train yourself to notice conflicts between feelings and values. And then ask yourself a simple question:

What do I REALLY want right now?

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Choose values over feelings - Examples

  • Is your feeling of desire for that bag of potato chips more “authentic” than your desire to be healthy and fit?
  • Is your feeling of anxiety and self-doubt more “authentic” than the evidence that you’ve given presentations like this dozens of times and they’ve always been well-received?
  • If you only take on new projects at work when you feel confident, you’ll never grow and probably miss out on some amazing opportunities.
  • If you only go to the gym when you feel excited and motivated, you’ll never get in shape.

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Little-W vs Capital-W wants

If it helps, try to get in the habit of thinking about Little-W wants and Capital-W wants:

  • Little-W wants are things like the pleasure of tasting a candy bar or the relief from anxiety when you take those first couple shots of vodka. While not necessarily bad, Little-W wants often distract us from and interfere with our Capital-W wants…
  • Capital-W wants are things we want based on our values: Iwant to be healthy enough to play tag with my grandkids without getting winded or I want to do high-quality work not just rush through it .

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