In part 1 of this series we looked in depth at the properties of Emotional Intelligence, what it is, and how it works. Now, here in part 2, we’ll be looking at practical steps you can take in cultivating your E.Q so that you can begin to build a better relationship with yourself and, in turn, the people around you. Enjoy!

1. Stop the self-loathing:

You know that voice in your head that lays into you, calling you all sorts of belittling names whenever you make a mistake or say/do something stupid? You got to stop letting it get away with talking to you like that. You’d hate if anybody else tried talking to you like that, right? So why let yourself do it? The next time that little voice begins hurling self criticizing words your way, stop yourself and remind it of the fact that you are human, you are imperfect, and that it’s totally okay and natural for you to make mistakes. If you want one sure-fire way to improve your overall EQ, this is absolutely it. Make this a habit, and you will see a huge change in your overall state of well being, I guarantee it. Which brings me to my next point..

2. Use your mirror:

Ah, the mirror. We all have one and we all use it. The mirror gives us the choice to encourage or discourage ourselves every single day. If you truly desire to make a change in how you perceive yourself, the mirror is a great place to start. Everyday, look into your own eyes and do your best to accept the person staring back at you. If you see something you don’t like, resolve to change it. If you see something that you don’t like but is out of your power to change, resolve to accept it and understand that it doesn’t define you. Doing this daily has the potential to not only improve your self-perception, but also your drive and desire to become a better, more fulfilled version of yourself.

3. Breathe deeply:

The fight or flight response is how your body naturally reacts to stress. It is what happens when your body decides to either confront or avoid danger and is what makes all the difference in a life or death situation. But in the modern world, where most of our problems are not a matter of survival, this can present a problem. When unmanaged, this response can cause unnecessary spikes in emotion; causing you to say and do things you may regret once your calm and rational thinking returns. The best way to counter this? Breathe deeply. Breathing deeply will both lower your heart rate and blood pressure, causing your body to recognize that it is not in immediate danger, which will help you to maintain an even calm when diffusing a negative situation. So the next time you feel a heightened level of anger, stress, or anxiety coming on, don’t let it get the better of you. Just breathe.

4. Respond, don’t react:

When you react to something, it is the result of an emotional trigger. It is the same for both positive and negative emotions. Throwing your hands up into the air after accomplishing a goal or task or snapping at someone who said the wrong thing while you were on edge are both examples of a reaction. A response is a conscious decision, it is when you perceive the emotion you are feeling, good or bad, and choose how you act in relation to it. Being anxious but deciding to keep calm and focused under pressure or explaining how what someone said might have hurt you rather than lashing out at them are both examples of a response. Reactions are not always a bad thing, but, when in doubt, err on the side of responding. It will keep molehills from becoming mountains.

5. Recognize the other side of the coin:

Lets face it. Unless you’re a monk who has spent years honing control over your emotions, there are going to be times when your emotions simply get the better of you. And that’s okay. Humans are emotional and imperfect creatures after all; we do and say things we don’t mean all of the time. What’s not okay is when we fail to see fault in our own actions. Fights and arguments happen, but we humans love to play the blame game and hate to admit when we’re wrong. This combination causes many of us to look at an argument or disagreement as a one sided endeavor; one where you are the victim and the other person is praying on you. This is detrimental to healing and can cause little disagreements to become raging monsters that have the potential to completely decimate the relationship involved, and it’s almost never worth it. Develop an ability to look at your conflicts objectively by realizing that it takes two to make them happen and you’ll end up having far less conflict to worry about.

6. Find an outlet:

Whenever I feel stressed, angry, or upset, I do my best to expel it through a healthy medium. I’ll either workout, read, write, meditate, or play my guitar; it doesn’t matter which I choose to do, what matters is that I’m taking the negative energy I’m feeling and transferring it into an activity that not only helps to expel my negative energy but transforms it into something that directly affects me in a positive way. Find something you can take all that negative energy out on and make it work for you, rather than taking it out on yourself or others.

7. Go with the flow and let it go:

If you were to ask me what I consider the key to emotional intelligence, this would be it. Developing a mindset where you are able to both openly accept what’s meant for you and let go of what isn’t will improve every aspect of your life, not just your E.Q. Learning to see the world in this way will give you greater flexibility in stepping outside yourself, that is to see things you subjectively experience in an objective way. This will free you from mental and emotional restrictions so that you can better enjoy and appreciate the experience of simply being alive.

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