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Emotional Self-Awareness: How Can It Help?

Can you predict how you will react in most situations?

Are you able to recognise the ‘triggers’ that raise particular feelings, emotions, and moods?

And do you manage these emotions to bring about positive outcomes?

Or do you frequently surprise yourself?

Do emotions sometimes get the better of you and lead to rash behaviour that negatively impacts both you and those around you?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the first questions above, you are already showing strong signs of emotional intelligence; if you answered ‘yes’ to the second questions, read on to learn some simple ways to work on your emotional self-awareness and to start bringing about better results in your life.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence or EQ (emotional quotient) is defined as the following:

“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.”

(Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, 1997)

While IQ (intelligence quotient) was traditionally seen as an indicator of one’s potential for ‘success’ in life, many successful people were actually observed to fare rather poorly with IQ; but they displayed high emotional intelligence.

This has led to the spotlight being directed on EQ in recent years, with much conjecture on how it affects all aspects of life: personal, professional, and social.

Signs of emotional self-awareness

Emotional self-awareness is often seen as the first ‘pillar’ of emotional intelligence. High awareness of your own emotions, while not completely defining EQ on its own, is a strong indicator of it.

It means that you notice your feelings, emotions, and ‘gut-level’ instincts or reactions; you are able to recognise their effects on your mind and body; you actively use your feelings as a valuable source of insight and information about yourself, others, and the situations around you.

How do you recognise this quality in day-to-day life with the people you meet? Usually, high emotional self-awareness is seen in people who:

  • Exhibit emotional balance and control
  • Rarely act rashly or irrationally
  • Express themselves easily and freely
  • Rarely get irritated or angry
  • Remain relatively stress-free
  • Seem prepared and in control
  • Are comfortable in social situations
  • Stay calm in pressure situations
  • Are able to lead others
  • Are able to build strong relationships
  • Appear confident but not over-confident
  • Are not upset by the opinions of others
  • Can laugh at themselves

Think of the people you look up to: maybe a favourite teacher, boss, or other leader who has made a big impression on you. It is likely that he or she was emotionally self-aware and exuded many of the admirable qualities listed above.

If you frustrate yourself sometimes by not being able to reach such emotional stability, control, and self-awareness, what can you do about improving this aspect of your being?

How to Raise Emotional Self-Awareness

One of the great ‘pluses’ of emotional intelligence is that most aspects of it can be worked on and improved.

Everybody has the ability to be more aware of their emotions, if they so desire. You can start to raise your level of emotional self-awareness by:

  • Labelling your emotions – by naming emotions you can reduce their intensity and limit any negativity associated with them
  • Connecting emotions with specific events – when you are prepared for feeling an emotion, you are not surprised by it and are less likely to act rashly because of it; you start to learn to recognise the ‘triggers’ of your emotions
  • Learning basic meditation techniques –simple mindfulness techniques can help you relax, learn about your own emotions, be more comfortable with your feelings, and make fewer snap judgments
  • Creating time for self-reflection – if you do not practice meditation, at least create time daily to reflect on the important things in your life, your own personal qualities, and how you react to particular situations and events
  • Taking a step back – it is important to take evasive action when you feel your emotional ‘triggers’ about to be ‘pressed’: learn to take a breath and a step back from the situation
  • Keep a journal – you may benefit from writing down your thoughts and feelings in a diary: this helps you put names to your emotions and potentially exert more control
  • Seek feedback – ask your most trusted friends or colleagues for feedback about how they see you react in certain situations: they can often see things that we can’t see ourselves!

Being more self-aware opens many ‘doors’ to a more fulfilling life with stronger relationships. It is one of the keys to emotional intelligence and a great starting point for anyone looking to work on self-development.

Ushma Dhanak

Ushma Dhanak

Social & Emotional Intelligence Coach & Trainer

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August 18, 2017 by Ushma Dhanak

Emotional Self-Awareness: How Can It Help?

Can you predict how you will react in most situations? Are you able to recognise the ‘triggers’ that raise particular feelings, emotions, and moods?


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