For a successful personal and professional life, it’s vital that you identify what makes you tick. Read on to learn how to discover emotional self-awareness and how to use your emotions to help your career.
Aristotle is often quoted as stating that ‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’. Indeed, the only person in the world that you are with 24/7 and 365 days a year is yourself. So, how well you know yourself plays a massive role in how you see the world and how you go about your life. We all have a level of self-awareness.
After all, that’s what makes us human. However, delving deeper into your emotional self-awareness can help you become much more knowledgeable about your strengths and weaknesses. It also aids in deepening your understanding of how your emotions impact your life and career. Is it time for you to have an accurate self-assessment to aid you going forwards in life?
What does emotion mean?
First, let’s talk about one thing about emotions. Although everyone has a good grasp on what they are and how they feel to experience, it’s important to clarify we all experience emotions differently. As individuals, we all have a one-of-a-kind way of processing our thoughts and feelings. It is these differences that feed into concepts such as our personality and our mental health. Developing emotional intelligence and paying attention to your own unique processes is the key to accessing a state of emotional self-awareness.
The first step to developing emotional self-awareness
So, how do you start developing emotional self-awareness? What do you look for? What are the signs? Again, emotions can be experienced and felt in a variety of forms but here are a few areas of focus you can explore. These will help to begin your journey towards understanding your own emotions:
- Emotional Sensitivity – How empathetic do you think you are? How confident are you with empathy and social skills? Does the sight of crying, even from someone you don’t know, make you feel sad too? Or do you tear up at weddings when you feel the joy from everyone else? On the other hand, maybe observing external displays of emotions from others doesn’t affect you as much.
- Emotional Elasticity – How much do you hold on to emotions? How long does it take you to ‘bounce back’ to neutral after a powerful emotional event? If you spill your coffee on yourself in the morning, do you carry that feeling of annoyance around for the rest of the day, or do you have a quick flash of anger and move on to the next thing? Also, how quickly do you change emotions?
- Emotional Expressivity – Do you wear your heart on your sleeve, or are you more of a strong and silent type? When you feel the bubble of emotion rise inside you do you try to push it down or do you let it out? Also, when it all gets too much do you prefer to keep it to yourself or express your emotions to others? And how do you feel about public displays of emotion?
Important: There is no right answer to these questions or a ‘correct’ way of managing your emotions. If the conclusions you come to are not to your liking, this is fine and is not a negative reflection on you as a person. Subsequently, think of it more as an opportunity to grow.
Now, let’s discuss the work of Daniel Goleman. He’s a New York Times bestselling author whose seminal works on emotional intelligence have become the building blocks of how to attain and improve self-awareness. The main thesis of his 1995 book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ’ is that emotional intelligence is an equal factor to IQ in determining professional, personal, and academic success.
Goleman also sets out a clearly defined methodology for expanding emotional intelligence. Goleman gives examples of how such training could be implemented into the education system to imbue children with these skills during a formative time in their lives. Goleman’s work is incredibly helpful to anyone seeking to better recognize and understand your own emotions and is, in our opinion, must-read material.
The Next Step
To quote Arab scholar and significant Islamic figure Abu Bakr, ‘knowledge without action is meaningless.’. Now you have this deeper knowledge of your feelings and emotions it is essential to put what you have learned about yourself into practice. For example, let’s say you have become aware of your propensity to anger quickly. This is, by some definitions, a less-than-advantageous trait to possess. Now you are aware of it, you can take steps to manage it.
Perhaps you could seek professional help in the field of anger management. Alternatively, you could gain support by picking up on the signs of your anger you could know when to step away from situations and ‘cool off’. Another example: after reflection you identify that you are particularly ‘closed-off’ emotionally.
Again, this could be seen as undesirable as despite the added protection from pain this may provide you it also serves as a barrier between you and the significant people in your life. But now that you know about it, you can change it if you desire to. You can begin to try and lower your defences and let your loved ones in. Perhaps maybe there’s a root cause of this situation that you could start therapy or counselling for.
These examples serve to illustrate the overarching benefit of developing emotional self-awareness: knowledge is power. And you can use that power to improve your life, starting from right now.