5 Smart Ways To Boost Your Emotional Intelligence And Control Your Emotions

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Emotional intelligence — or EQ — is an important part of your own emotional awareness of your feelings and your ability to empathize with those around you.

Your emotional health is every bit as important as your physical health, and yet because it's invisible, it's a lot easier to ignore and hide, which many people unfortunately do.

But what is emotional intelligence, and how can it impact your feelings in your daily life?

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The concept of EQ was created with the intention to help people become kinder to themselves and others.

The actual definition of emotional intelligence is "The capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others."

Learning how to improve emotional intelligence is a beneficial skill that will help anyone struggling with their emotions.

So how do you take care of yourself, emotionally? Have you given it much thought? Or are your emotions running the show?

Knowing how to practice self-care, and doing it well, is one of the most empowering things you can do as a woman.

There are powerful and effective ways to do this, especially when you're upset with those closest to you.

You take care of yourself when you take the time to create and process the list of emotions you're experiencing.

The "Four N's" is a process that will help you manage your emotions in a productive way — Notice, Name, Nurture, and Need.

We all want someone to be there for us in a relationship when we're feeling emotional, and this process is a way for us to be there for ourselves emotionally.

It is an easy yet powerful practice worth learning to help you categorize and compile a list of feelings you're struggling with.

The process involves directing your behavior toward what is underneath an uncomfortable feeling you are having.

For example, overeating is a way for many to run away from their feelings. Let’s say you find yourself eating too much pizza or indulging in taking more slices of the pie even when you're not hungry.

Knowing this behavior will leave you feeling discontent in your body, what do you do?

Here are 5 steps to improve your emotional intelligence and take care of your emotional health using self-care and self-awareness:

1. Notice your behavior.

"Ah, I'm eating too much pizza because I am having an uncomfortable feeling."

You are bringing more consciousness to an unconscious behavior and are shifting your behavior simply by noticing and acknowledging that you are overeating due to an uncomfortable feeling.

There are many types of emotions that could contribute to your need to keep eating, and some might be negative emotions, but others might just be something that makes you uncomfortable.

This first step seems easy, but it's really the hardest step.

That's because it's easier to stay stuck in the old familiar patterns of human emotion and bad habits.

It takes an effort to notice and then be willing to have some self-discipline at that moment. You take care of yourself simply by developing the art of noticing.

This is the first step when learning how to break bad habits. 

2. Name the uncomfortable feeling.

Once you take notice, proceed to name it. If you get this far, you are well on your way of taking care of yourself emotionally when you're upset. It is a turning point.

You are letting go of the old destructive pattern or bad habits and turning inward by naming your uncomfortable feeling.

To name it, ask yourself, "If I am having an uncomfortable feeling, what is it? Is it sad, mad, glad, fear, shame, or numb?" It's probably not glad.

Be present and feel into the feeling. Let’s say, for example, you're feeling hurt. Hurt is part of the sad category. You have identified the feeling by giving it your undivided attention, similar to what a child wants.

Whatever type of feelings you're experiencing, all they want is your attention and love.

Your feelings are there to inform you that something isn’t quite right. They discharge when you acknowledge them in a compassionate and non-blaming way.

Each type of feeling causes a certain response in the body. Have you ever consciously noticed how fear feels in your body, compared to sadness? Or how anger feels, compared to shame? What does it feel like in your body when you are numb and can’t feel anything at all?

Sadness, for example, is heavy energy, whereas fear is tense or nervous energy. Anger is fiery and often explosive energy.

Become aware of the different types of feelings, of how and where they occupy your body.

This is an important awareness to have if you want to be emotionally empowered. You take care of yourself in a more conscious way when you are tuned in to your feelings like this.

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3. Nurture the uncomfortable feeling.

Once you know the type of feeling you are experiencing, you can proceed to nurture it. This is an important step.

You may know that you are hurt and you’re able to name that emotion. However, if you don't nurture it, then you'll likely fall back into your old patterns of overeating or other destructive behaviors.

To nurture the feeling, notice where it is in your body.

To begin, place one hand on your heart, and the other hand on your belly, or wherever you feel the emotion in your body. Start to breathe into the feeling. Give it your undivided attention. This is where your feelings are, in the body.

With your hands on your heart and your belly (or wherever you have placed them), you are literally holding the feeling.

Then, as you hold the feeling, begin breathing into it and be present with it.

Nurture the feeling as a loving parent would and hold your uncomfortable feeling like a baby.

Ask yourself, “What is this emotion all about?”

For example, let’s say that your partner yelled at you. You notice you are feeling an emotion. You get present with your body and are able to name the emotion: hurt.

Once you are aware of what the feeling is, you become compassionate, use self-care practices, and nurture yourself regarding this issue.

You take care of yourself in a deeply emotional way when you can develop this self-nurturing skill, which helps to build your emotional wellness and strength.

4. Discover your core need.

Under every uncomfortable emotion is an unmet need. With one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly (or wherever you have placed them), ask yourself, “What do I need?”

This is a powerful question to ask yourself when you are upset about a situation.

It will help you stay out of the "story," which keeps you in your head. When you are in your head in such a situation, you give your power away.

Your power comes from understanding what your soul wants to show you. It wants you to grow, learn, and live a more expanded life. Your soul does not want you to stay in drama, sabotage, victim, or "stuff it" energy. It doesn't want you to stay in a confining box constructed from limited belief systems and it wants you to expand into greater awareness.

Your feelings are the magical source for greater awareness. They can help you feel more empowered as a woman when you understand the underlying unmet need.

Addressing the unmet need translates into more aliveness in your body because this is a process of learning to love and acknowledge yourself.

It is a process of honoring your emotions instead of repressing them. This is how you learn to lead your life from a place of love by cultivating it from within.

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You take care of yourself by validating your uncomfortable emotions. 

Look for what is under your uncomfortable feeling. It helps you uncover a core unmet need. Understanding your core need and embodying it is empowering. Your uncomfortable emotions are valid. Don’t dismiss them.

Instead, uncover the unmet need and either give it to yourself, request it from another, or both. It will steer you back to a state of balance.

This process will help you understand yourself on a deeper level.

Knowing your needs and how to meet them is empowering. You may feel some desire to want someone to change their behavior but you can never control another's actions. The only actions you can control are yours, as well as your core needs.

A core need is not saying to your partner, "I need you to stop being a jerk."

You take care of yourself when you realize that having needs doesn't mean you're needy.

Core needs are normal and natural but it doesn't mean you're needy.

Core needs include things like compassion, understanding, clarity, cleanliness, and gentleness, to name a few. For example, if your partner yelling at you causes you to feel hurt and sad, your core need may be gentleness.

By putting your hands on your heart and your belly, you are already giving yourself that which you need.

By doing the Four N process, you have already begun to give yourself what you need. Now, feeling aware and centered, as opposed to emotional, and knowing that your core need is a desire for gentleness, you can go back to your partner and request that to help prevent unnecessary drama in your relationships.

But you definitely won’t get your core need for gentleness if you tell your partner, "You are such a jerk for yelling at me. Don’t do it again."

Instead, when you uncover your core need and embody it, meaning you feel you deserve it, and you own the statement "I need gentleness," you can say to your partner, "Honey, when you yelled at me, it really hurt.

I felt sad.

What I need is gentleness. Would you be willing to be gentler with me in the future?"

Your partner may not be perfect, however, this type of request, if asked sincerely, will help your partner see things in a different way.

By seeing things in a different way by using the Four N process, you have shifted the energy dance in the relationship.

5. And lastly, believe you deserve to have your needs met.

This type of request will only work if you mean it, embody it, and speak it from your heart. The Four N’s will help you develop a more compassionate relationship with yourself.

Once you have discovered your core need, then you must believe you deserve to have that core need met, 100 percent.

If you don't feel you deserve it, then your request won't come from your heart; it will come from your head.

You may request to be treated gently, but you can’t convince another person to be gentle with you if you don’t believe you are worthy of it.

By embodying and feeling deserving of your core need, your whole being becoming empowered.

Your energy isn’t scattered or confused; it is centered and stable. But, when you "people-please" to the detriment of your needs, it weakens your life force energy.

Use the Four N process any time you have an uncomfortable feeling.

Half the battle will be to remember to do it and to take the time. Old habits die hard.

You may do it and then slip and not do it.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t process your emotions productively every time.

You are human, learning a new way of living and loving. It is a lifelong process of opening to love.

Remember to put your hands on your heart and belly when you are upset.

Learn to be there for yourself so you won’t create unnecessary drama in your relationships.

You will come to your senses by sensing into your body (not your mind) when emotions arise. It's all about learning how to BE in your body.

When you speak your feelings, remember to use "I" statements instead of "you" statements to take full responsibility for your feelings.

It is all about exploring your needs and feelings.

The Four N process explores needs and feelings. Knowing your needs, and how to get them met, is empowering.

You take care of yourself in a deep and emotional way when you practice this process and make it part of your life.

Set aside ten minutes or more, then get centered by taking a few breaths. On a piece of paper write down ten of your core needs.

Remember, core needs don't involve making someone else do something such as, "I need my husband to help with the housework."

Instead, a core need in that situation could be a need for cleanliness. Other core needs, for example, might be gentleness, connection, patience, and support.

What are yours?

When you practice this new way of communicating with yourself and others, you'll feel less heaviness in your body.

This type of communication "technique" is not really a technique, because if you are not in your heart, it won’t work. It is a way of learning how to give your heart and body — instead of your mind — a voice.

Anna-Thea is an intimacy educator. You can find more on her website or follow her on Twitter. 

This article was originally published at Anna Thea. Reprinted with permission from the author.