Understanding Emotional Self-Awareness & How It Can Improve Your Life

Do you have a good understanding of how your emotions may be triggered by certain situations or events in life? Can you control your feelings or are they liable to result in behaviour that you’d rather avoid?

Do you sometimes surprise yourself and react in ways that you hadn’t expected?

Your answers to these questions will go some way to assessing your level of emotional self-awareness.

This is one of the qualities that underpins emotional intelligence. In fact, it’s often considered as a starting point for someone wanting to grow their emotional intelligence. Your mastery of it can bring positive results to many aspects of your life.

Let’s take a closer look at what it all means…

What is emotional self-awareness?

Emotional intelligence (EI) or EQ as it’s sometimes termed (short for ‘emotional quotient’) is defined as:

 “the ability to perceive emotions; to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought; to understand emotions and emotional knowledge; and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

Emotional self-awareness is one of 26 qualities associated with emotional intelligence; and it’s the first one we look at here.

Growing awareness of your own emotions is one of the main foundations of being better able to control your own behaviour, be more aware of others, and to form the close bonds that lead to successful relationships.

If you are emotionally self-aware, you:

  • Notice your own feelings, emotions, and instincts
  • Predict your own reactions to these emotions, feelings, and instincts
  • Recognise the physical and mental effects of your feelings
  • Gain valuable insight about yourself, others, and the situations around you

Recognising emotional self-awareness around you

If you’re not able to instantly see the above qualities in yourself, don’t panic. Simply by being more aware of them in others, you’re expanding your awareness. This is a good first step.

Start looking for qualities associated with emotional self-awareness in others. For example, people who:

  • Stay calm and rational in situations that many others find stressful
  • Usually exhibit good emotional balance
  • Seem in control and prepared for any eventuality
  • Easily express themselves
  • Rarely seem to get stressed, irritated, or angry
  • Mix well and are comfortable socially
  • Lead and mentor others
  • Enjoy close and fruitful relationships
  • Seem confident – but never boastful or over-confident
  • Accept the opinions of others and are not threatened by them
  • See the funny side of things – even themselves at times

Practice and improve your emotional self-awareness

Don’t beat yourself up if you get stressed out easily or don’t currently enjoy the self-control, calmness, and self-confidence that emotionally aware people do.

Like all the qualities of emotional intelligence, you can work on it and improve it with practice.

Try some of the following simple activities to help you become more aware of your emotions:

  • Take a deep breath – learn to take a step back from stress-inducing situations when you feel your emotional ‘triggers’ about to be pulled; take a walk, a deep breath, delay decisions – whatever it takes to avoid acting on raw emotion.
  • Connect specific emotions with their triggers – observe when emotions start rising – what’s triggering them? Get to know them and you’ll be more ‘prepared’ for the feeling next time, potentially resulting in less rash behaviour.
  • Selfreflect – schedule time in your daily routine to reflect on the important things that have happened during the day. This will help you be more objective about how you have reacted and why.
  • Learn to label emotions – the intensity of emotions is reduced by naming them; this may potentially reduce the negative outcomes of emotionally driven behaviour.
  • Write it down – a journal is a good way to record your feelings and become better acquainted with the emotions that you go through daily. You also start to label your emotions and this will help you control them.
  • Seek the opinions of those closest to you – asking others can shine a light on your own behaviour. We all kid ourselves sometimes; getting honest feedback about how we react can help us front up and do something about it.
  • Learn mindfulness techniques – by clearing your mind, you learn about your essential self, recognising your emotions and becoming more accepting of them and less frustrated by them.

These activities will help you to start thinking and acting with more emotional self-awareness.

While this may be difficult for some people at first, you’ll start to see the positive results in your life: being more in control, more self-confident, better able to handle difficult situations, and better able to form close bonds with others.

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