What is emotional intelligence? Here’s one componet:
Awareness of Emotions: Have you ever asked a teenager, “What are you feeling right now?” only to have him respond, “I dunno”. Unless that kid is remarkably ahead of the self-awareness curve, he probably possesses a relatively low level of emotional intelligence. Not that this would be surprising, of course: most teenagers, in general, are struggling simply to understand themselves and the world around them. But what about adults? What’s our excuse? Alas, many “grown ups” are little more than teenagers in grown-up clothing. I’m betting you know at least half a dozen people in your work/social circles who repeatedly act out impulsively on their feelings, wearing their emotions on their sleeves without much self-refection, utterly unaware of how their emotions and behaviors affect and influence others. Scary, huh? And so common! The fact is, most of us have never been trained in the development of emotional awareness. Certainly we don’t learn it in school!
Emotional awareness requires us to take a step back from ourselves and observe what’s going on in our hearts and minds. It asks us to notice how different feelings – anger, upset, joy, frustration – land in our bodies. Where, for example, do we hold anger? Our necks? Our stomachs? Our throats? How about anger? Joy? And when we do have these feelings arise, what thoughts run through our minds (and vice versa)? Awareness of emotions means stepping outside of ourselves and making a study of our thoughts and feelings as if they were those of another person. Through curiosity and objectivity, we take a heartbeat of reflection between feeling what we feel and proceeding to the expression of those emotions.