Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as being aware of the emotions of others. In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Pete Scazzero argued that one of the ways many people mask their emotions is by staying busy and being overly active when in fact they are horrified of what they will find inside of themselves if they slow down. The terror of stopping may reveal an emotion or reality they are unwilling or ill-prepared to confront, at least on their own. The issue of mental health has become more widely discussed recently and emotional management is at the forefront of this important matter. I am convinced that whatever is not managed will soon master us whether it is our emotions, money, addictions, desires, and even how we spend our time. But, how does one manage their emotions? Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.
Identify emotional triggers. There are moments when our emotions and feelings can be stirred based on the environment, events, and experiences that we expose ourselves to such as holidays, special occasions, work settings, conversations, and personal connections. It is important to know when to decline certain invitations, be unafraid to say no, and avoid entertaining certain kinds of people if and when we feel uncomfortable or uneasy for any reason. Keep in mind, an explanation is not always necessary when it comes down to self-care and emotional stewardship. Being obligated to enlighten others as to why we are putting our well-being first is not a habit that we should be accustomed to or do often, but rather it is to be understood and embraced by those around us without offering disclaimers. `
Set appropriate boundaries.
When we set boundaries, it lets others know how we prefer to be treated and what we expect pertaining to respecting our decisions. The key here that some often fail to do is to have a plan for when people cross the line. Standards without any consequences are useless. We each have a threshold and emotional management seeks to establish what that is before there is a problem. Allow yourself to feel an emotion, but only for a set time. Yes, we are all human and should allow ourselves to be acquainted with our authentic feelings. However, we should not “pitch a tent” where we are not supposed to stay long. We are to walk through what we are experiencing, not stop. We can lean in, but we eventually need to let go.
Express yourself in a healthy way.
Sometimes, this may require that we write down how we feel before being vocal. Reflection often provides time for us to assess ourselves before exposing our raw emotions. Many do this by journaling or some type of creative writing or expression that provides a filter. Once we flesh out our thoughts and after several inner iterations, we can typically convey ourselves in a healthier way.
Take continual care of yourself.
Most people seek professional help when needed, but in order to sustain emotional management, we should adopt a lifestyle of mental maintenance through counseling and other tools as a personal practice, not as a responsive measure. Furthermore, therapy should not be taboo. Invest in yourself by developing tools that help you deal with difficult people and situations. When one receives counsel, it allows them to be proactive instead of reactive. Lastly, while we appreciate the support of our friends and family, they are not equipped to provide professional help needed to work through our most crucial emotional needs.
The ability to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically requires that we not only educate ourselves about our own feelings and emotions, but how they affect our interaction with others. Dr. Dharius Daniels believes that all relationships are catalytic and consequential (Daniels, 2020). This being true, how we engage with others should be intentional and not casual as if everyone is to be treated in the same manner. Managing our emotions prevents us from being dictated by only what we feel and opens up our minds to what really guides our thinking and actions.
Scazzero, P. (2015). The emotionally healthy leader: How transforming your inner life will deeply transform your church, team, and the world. Zondervan.
Daniels, Dharius. (2020). Relational intelligence: the people skills you need for the life of purpose you want. Zondervan.
Joyce A. Terry is a Christian ordained minister and studied at Anderson University, Mid-America Christian University, and Indiana Wesleyan University.
She passionately empowers others by addressing topics about life, love, and leadership through her blog, Joyce’s Jewels. She is also a worship leader and conference speaker.
Presently, Joyce serves as a director in an early childhood center and lives with her husband Jimmy in East Rockaway, New York.
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