Illustration by Kate Biben
It might be tempting to try to be anywhere but present with your thoughts right now. If you’re feeling that way, you’re not alone; the ADAA reported that anxiety disorders affect “around 40 million adults — almost 1 in 5 people.” This stat also was reported before the pandemic; what our collective psyche will look like after all of this is over is yet to be fully understood.
There’s good news in there somewhere; you can make this difficult time into an opportunity to develop your emotional intelligence, which will in turn help you cope with the immense stress we’re all feeling right now.
It might feel like a double-edged sword, but the more you sit with your thoughts and work on being fully present in the moment, the better those thoughts will become. This practice is called mindfulness, and it will improve every facet of your life. It’s also the secret to developing your emotional intelligence.
It might feel like a double-edged sword, but the more you sit with your thoughts and work on being fully present in the moment, the better those thoughts will become.
This practice is called mindfulness, and it will improve every facet of your life. It’s also the secret to developing your emotional intelligence.
The Link Between Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is measured with five different components. We need to look internally and externally to get the whole picture since emotional intelligence “considers how we think about ourselves and how we think about and act towards others.” (Learn all about those 5 components here.)
The link to mindfulness is one of those five components: self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moves. By increasing your self-regulation, you’ll be able to allow thoughts to enter and then exit your mind, instead of grabbing onto them and dwelling. This is crucial for practicing mindfulness — it helps defeat fixation and intrusive thoughts.
How do you get started?
All of this might sound good in theory, but it sounds like just that: theory. One of my own challenges with utilizing mindfulness is turning theory into practice. So here are some actionable tips to get you started, right now.
Try the Clear Glass Concept
This concept is a cornerstone of how we understand and communicate emotional intelligence at TTI SI. It’s an easy way to quickly communicate your emotional state to others, which can help defuse and prevent conflict. It’s simple:
“I have a clear glass right now”: I am not experiencing heightened emotions (negative or positive) and I am calm. “I have a cloudy glass”: I am experiencing moderate emotions and may have clouded judgement as a result. I need time to calm down. “I have a red glass”: I am feeling elevated emotions. I’m not in a good position to make decisions right now, because my mood might cause misunderstanding, conflict, or assumptions to be made about my behavior. I need time to calm down.
By sharing the state of your glass, you can communicate your feelings quickly and effectively to others. Mindfulness is key because sharing in this way requires awareness of your feelings in the first place! Try introducing this language to your inner circle and start using it. The results might surprise you.
Start a Meditation Practice
Alright, you knew this was going to be on here. Meditation is hugely popular and has only gained traction in the last few years. A study by Mellowed reported that 70% of people who meditate have been doing so for less than 3 years.
The same study shared that the top three reasons people meditate is to reduce stress and anxiety, to improve concentration and memory, and to improve performance at work. Who can afford to ignore benefits like that?
There are tons of apps out there that can help you get started, but meditating can be as simple as sitting comfortably and working to clear your mind. Here is a checklist of how to meditate.
Listen to Your Body
Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are all about awareness. Increasing awareness largely has to do with your brain, as I’ve shared here, but you can’t neglect your body! Working on listening to your body cues is key to catching moods and controlling emotions. Try the HALT method if you have a cloudy or red glass.
Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?