How do you feel?

Let’s imagine for a moment that you and I are work colleagues. We happen to be in the break room at the same time making our morning cuppa and I smile at you and say ‘Good morning! How are you?’ What would your response most likely be? Chances are, no matter how you are feeling, your response would be along the lines of ‘good’ or ‘fine’. Why is it, that we almost always answer ‘good’, even when we are not? It is such an automated response and sadly it is pretty much the expected response. Think about the following questions:

  • When asked how you are, do you consciously consider, in that moment, how and what you are actually feeling?
  • In any given moment, can you intentionally recognise and then shift your feelings if needed?

If you confidently answered yes to both questions, then feel free to stop reading this blog post!

Ok, but seriously, even if you did answer yes to both those questions, I am sure you will still gain some benefit from reading on.

Read any book, article or blog on Emotional Intelligence (EI) and they will all refer to the need for good EI to ensure success in any part of your life. There is no doubt that enhancing your EI allows you to increase confidence, build more meaningful relationships and enhance your ability to respond to challenges both in your personal lives and careers.

The foundation skill of developing emotionally intelligent behaviour is self-awareness. Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of individuals and many work teams to help them enhance their emotional intelligence and self-awareness. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat across a table with a client who has confidently advised me that they are very self-aware.

In my experience, most people consider themselves self-aware and yet the reality can actually be quite different. According to Dr Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0: ‘Only 36 percent of the people we’ve tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. This means that two thirds of us are typically controlled by our emotions and are not yet skilled at spotting them and using them to our benefit.’

So, what exactly is self-awareness? It is the ability to recognise, in the moment;

  • What you are feeling
  • Why you are feeling it

and most importantly have the ability answer and respond appropriately to the question;

  • Is what I am feeling helping or hindering me right now?

Enhancing self-awareness is easily done, as long as you focus on it. A great place to start is by simply practicing self-reflection regularly. Once a week, sit down with pen and paper and write all the emotions you recall feeling in the last 24 hours. The most important aspect of this exercise is to not judge the emotions you experienced. Simply ask yourself, did that emotion help or hinder me at that time?

Try this practice for a few weeks and feel free to let me know what you learn from this exercise.

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