In last week’s blog post we talked about the first component of emotional intelligence, which is Self-Awareness.
Self-Regulation is the Second Component.
Can you control your impulses? Are you moody, or are you open to change? Can you handle uncertainty? The ability to appropriately and positively respond to something, that might not match-up with your thinking, is a part of self-regulation.
For example, the guy or girl you are going out with, calls at the last minute and cancels your date. Where does your mind go? Do you lash out at them? Do you immediately call them a jerk? Or, do you try to understand why they had to cancel?
No, it’s not cool to cancel at the last minute, but do you immediately get an attitude before you even know why?
As a single mom for three years, I had to cancel a lot of dates at the last minute. Was I flaky? No, I was a mom with two kiddos, and I had no choice but to cancel at times. If a guy were to give me an ounce of attitude, without even knowing why I had to cancel, I would most likely never go out with him again.
I wouldn’t yell at him for being a jerk, (because I can self-regulate) but I would definitely apologize for the inconvenience, tell him to have a nice day, and then I would move on.
Accountability is a major part of self-regulation. Are you accountable for your actions? This is such a huge one for me personally.
It drives me absolutely bonkers when a person is unaccountable for their actions. You know that person… the one that is always late. They always blame it on traffic when you know they leave at the exact same time, from the exact same place, every day! Duh, yeah there’s going to be traffic. It’s rush hour… in the city… seriously? What am I, an idiot?
Everyone finishes work at 5ish. Cars leave work …traffic ensues. Shocking! Leave earlier so you can be on time, or just tell me the real time you will arrive so I can plan my evening. Respect people’s time.
Or worse, they keep doing something really crappy to you, and when you finally dump the person, they act like they have no idea why? That person can go fly a kite. They drive me mad.
Be accountable for your actions. If you do something wrong (which we all do), apologize. It’s so much easier to just say you’re sorry. People will respect you so much more; in fact, they will actually like you more! Crazy, right?
When you own your crap and say you’re sorry, you become more human and people can better relate to you. We are all human after all. So, if you do something stupid, for the love of God, please just say you’re sorry! Oh, and don’t be a jerk and do it again. Saying you’re sorry only works if you really mean it, and if you keep doing it, then you don’t really mean it.
Internal Motivation is the Third Component.
Internal motivation means that you work towards personal growth, and you have an overall sense of self. Your focus in not materialistic, but instead, you are driven by the desire for personal development.
Internal motivation was the main driver in my decision to get a divorce.
I realized that I was in a relationship that was halting my personal growth, and it wasn’t providing the fulfillment that I needed to be happy. The person Iwas with was not interested in personal growth, or he was unable to do it.
Regardless of why, the result was the same.
We kept facing the same issues in our relationship repeatedly and kept hitting a wall. Nothing was getting resolved. I was deeply unhappy, and I was losing my sense of self.
Do I blame him for everything? Absolutely not. When I reflect, I realize that I wasn’t completely self-aware, and being in an unhappy marriage made me realize that.
We were not a good match. We did not complement each other, and I certainly did not do everything perfectly. Maybe he was already self-aware. Self-aware in the sense that he knew who he was, and he wasn’t going to change to make me happy.
Either way, it had to end. I had to live my truth. In fact, I didn’t really know my truth, so I had to find it first.
I realized after a lot soul searching, tears, and anger, that I was going to have to move on. I had to persevere, under horrible odds, in order to achieve happiness. (You can read more about my story here if you like)
Are you in the same boat? Are you in a relationship that keeps hitting a wall? I truly believe that marriage is failing these days because people get married for the wrong reasons, and/or marry someone who is totally wrong for them. I don’t think the institution of marriage is to blame. Shit just gets real after you get married! Of course, with marriage comes legal and financial commitments, but I believe in going all in. That’s just my opinion, however.
We seem to have this very shallow checklist for life.
- Graduate from high school
- Go to college
- Graduate from college
- Get a job
- Get married
- Buy a house
- Have babies
I’m not saying this is everyone’s list, but notice there is nothing in this list about “personal growth,” or the pursuit of overall happiness? There is this underlying belief, in a lot of people, that these items above will bring you happiness.
Did you do all of these things and still are unhappy?
We get married for the wrong reasons, and then we wonder why our marriage fails. We don’t truly know our inner selves and motivations, we marry someone, then we wonder why it didn’t work out. If you are a person who longs for true love and lasting happiness, then you must know yourself.
You must have internal motivation to accomplish this.
Empathy is the Fourth Component
This is impossible without self-awareness. True empathy that is. Anyone can fake it, but to truly have empathy for another human being, you must be self-aware. You must be able to understand your own feelings and perceptions, before you understand it from another point of view.
Remember we talked about perception a lot.
Are you able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? Are you able to feel someone else’s feelings as if they are your own? Do you practice caring about others, or do you go for what you want in life, and don’t care how it affects others?
To empathize with someone, you must be able to stop and consider another person’s feelings. How does is affect them? How does it make them feel? You must be able to experience another person’s feelings. Some people really struggle with this. They have no idea how their feelings and motives drive their own actions, and how those actions are perceived by others. As a result, they cannot begin to understand what drives another person’s actions.
In my earlier example, I talk about how I often had to cancel dates at the last minute when I was a single mom. The other mother’s in my life, who were able to empathize, understood that I was a single mom, and sometimes events occurred that were completely out of my control. Instead of being annoyed with me, they were able to put themselves in my position and empathize with my situation.
My really great friends, offered to baby sit my kiddos for me so I could catch a break! They weren’t mad at me when I had to cancel.
Social Skills are the Fifth Component
Are you good at conflict resolution? Or, are you the person generally creating the conflict?
To have social skills is perhaps the most superficial component; however, it’s the last step necessary once you have developed the other four. Just because you have social skills, doesn’t mean you are emotionally mature, if you have not conquered the first four. Just to be clear!
This component is pretty straightforward. To have social skills means you are able to manage your relationships in a positive way. You should be able to find common ground and build on your relationships, rather than keep them superficial and light, or worse, in constant conflict.
Are you a leader? Or do you often withdraw to avoid conflict?
For me, this one really hits home if you have children. When your children are going at it and arguing, do you yell at them to be quiet and stop arguing? Okay I do sometimes, because it’s impossible not to occasionally! Most of the time, when we as parents are on our “A” game, we try to find out first what the heck is going on! What is the issue? Second, we try to remedy or diffuse the situation, and third, we try to inspire them to get along.
We often take the time as parents to foster healthy communication between our kids for the common good. Or as I like to call it, for our freaking sanity!
We sometimes forget to do this in the adult world. It’s easier sometimes to retreat into your cave, and drown out the rest of the world. I see so many people do this. They have a failed relationship, but instead of licking their wounds and getting back out there, they play it safe. Or worse, they never deal with their issues, and they continue to make the same mistakes repeatedly.
Do you know the definition of insanity? I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. If you live in denial, you won’t learn, if you don’t learn, then you won’t grow.
If you don’t grow, your relationships will eventually plateau. I believe those who marry multiple times, continuously reach this plateau. Their relationships can only go so far without self-awareness, and personal growth.
There are those who like to play the “victim” role. You know who they are! They refuse to do the work to address their issues, and continue to assign blame to the other party. They take the easy route. Their relationship eventually plateaus. The other person gets frustrated, and the relationship inevitably ends. It’s a viscous cycle.
Some reside themselves to the idea that maybe marriage, happiness, or family, is just not in the cards for them. It’s like they just give up. This makes me very sad. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves love. Learn your faults, forgive yourself, forgive others, and do the work to grow. It’s never too late. You must be able to accept and forgive yourself first; however, before you can accept and forgive others. It’s just the way it works. There are no short-cuts!
If you’ve read this, and feel like you have a handle of the five components of emotional intelligence, then hats off to you! It took me a long while to get there, and I still struggle a lot. I definitely still have my issues that I make a point to manage.
It really helped me; however, when I at least had some common knowledge of the concept of emotional intelligence. I hope it helps you, or someone you care about who may be struggling.
Remember, nobody’s is perfect, and striving for perfection is complete nonsense. Do your best, accept your faults and accept others for who they are.
Make it a great day.
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