Improving your Emotional Intelligence

Dan Duncan's picture

mood-emotion-intelligence-IQOne of the many things I run into in therapy with my client’s is their lack of emotional intelligence. This does not come from a lack of insight or ability. More often than not, this either comes from a misunderstanding of behaviors for emotions, or not being aware of the different emotions we sometimes feel. For instance, men are often socialized to only feel a few emotions, like anger and happiness. We all can benefit from improving our emotional intelligence, and being able to describe and understand the emotions we feel in the moments we feel them.

Changing our emotional intelligence starts with understanding what emotions or feelings are and what they are not. Over the years, our society as a whole has generally done a poor job being able to describe the feelings and emotions while we have excelled at describing behaviors. Given this, we often mistake behaviors for emotions. For example, someone punching a wall we would say is angry. While the behavior certainly is a display of anger, anger is a secondary emotion that comes from another emotion. Therefore anger is a response to an emotion like fear, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and not really the emotion we are feeling.

Because this accurate identification is very difficult for many of us, in treatment, I often use the Mood Journal to help improve emotional intelligence. This worksheet helps us all to gain understanding of what we feel and when we feel it, so that we can intervene or prevent the negative consequences that often accompany the negative emotions and behaviors. This worksheet takes you step by step through identification process of your mood or emotions in any situation.

Check out the Mood Journal with instructions here.

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