Many of us grew up in homes where feeling was a bad word. Tears were childish, anger was bad, and vulnerability was not to be shown. But more and more, our culture is beginning to understand there's value in paying attention to our feelings. Emotions used to be considered nuisances — signs of weakness associated with hormones and irrationality.
But now, even CEOs of major companies are recognizing the benefits of paying attention to your heart as well as your head. Emotionally intelligent folks have healthier relationships, manage their stress better, and are happier in their jobs than those of us who are less emotionally intelligent. Not sure where you stand?
Here are 14 signs you have an impressive EQ (Emotional Quotient).
1. You know the difference between a thought and a feeling.
You know thoughts form as phrases or sentences in your mind (e.g. I'm not good enough) and feelings form as sensations in your body (such as heartbreak, infuriation, anxiety). And you know both thoughts and feelings come and go —you don't have to do anything with them but acknowledge them with mindfulness and compassion.
2. You have a strong emotional vocabulary.
You know there's more than one description of your experience of "sad," for example. Perhaps you're disappointed. Or you're despairing. Or you're grieving. You know when you're feeling irritable or low, and you know when you're feeling empty.
3. You're not afraid of your own feelings, even difficult ones.
You make space for them rather than avoid or numb them.
4. You're not afraid of others' feelings, even difficult ones.
You create a safe space for them to be expressed rather than changing the subject or finding an excuse to get the eff outta there.
5. You're non-reactive.
Although you're aware that you're feeling something, you react intentionally rather than instinctively (e.g. You don't swear or smash stuff on the regular).
6. You have empathy for others.
You can imagine and understand the feelings they might be experiencing.
7. You're in touch with the bodily sensations you experience in response to emotion.
You recognize feelings like guilt, anxiety, heartbreak, and grief in your body.
8. You can tell easily when partner, friend, or family member is upset without them telling you.
You can read them.
9. You adjust your behaviour based on who you're with.
You've been called a social chameleon, or told you get along with everyone. You know what's socially desirable and what's not given your environment.
10. You thrive in a leadership role.
You have no problem spearheading projects or captaining teams.
11. You ask people questions about them.
You're genuinely interested in their lives and stories.
12. You know your values.
Underneath it all, you're in touch with what drives you.
13. You know the importance of listening to your heart.
You don't always go for the "logical" choice, whether it's when you're choosing a pair of shoes or choosing a partner.
14. You know how to work a room.
You thrive as a wedding or Christmas party date, even when you know no one.
15. You're able to deal with conflict.
You don't avoid it and you don't become aggressive in response to it.
16. You're not derailed from a goal by a single (or several) setback(s).
You're to dust yourself off and try again, or take a step back and go at a goal from a different angle.
Sound like you? Great.
Doesn't sound like you at all? Fear not (ahem, notice and make space for that fear). Unlike your IQ, which stays relatively stable throughout your life, you can increase your EQ over time.
Yoga, meditation, and therapy are a few formal places you can start; however, even exploring what you're feeling in your body at the moment is a step towards connecting your mind and body, and it's something you can do anytime, anywhere.
Megan Bruneau, M.A., is a therapist, executive coach, and wellness writer based in New York City. She received her bachelor of arts in psychology and family studies from the University of British Columbia and a masters of arts in counselling psychology from Simon Fraser University. She is a registered clinical counselor (RCC) in British Columbia, but now works with clients in New York and globally via remote work. Drawing inspiration from her own experiences, Bruneau has contributed to The Huffington Post, Forbes, and Thrillist and has appears on Good Morning America and New York 1 Morning News. She is also the host of the podcast Better Because of It.