Building emotional intelligence is in itself a unique task. Then add in family gatherings, gift expectations, significant others, holiday spending, and fattening meals all at once and you can easily find yourself nursing an emotional breakdown.
Whether it’s managing a family member’s backhanded comment or gifting without slipping into holiday debt, emotional intelligence is the preparation tool we could all use more of for a crisis-free month.
Emotional intelligence is defined as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” Being emotionally intelligent involves five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Much research has shown that effective leaders, spouses, and parents all have high emotional intelligence. Here are three emotionally intelligent ways to survive the holidays!
1. Seek Self-Awareness
Emotional intelligence always starts with the ability to identify what you are feeling and the root cause. In a world built around expectations, social media, and access to distractions, we are finding ourselves unaware of our emotions, what they mean, and why they are triggered.
Practice self-awareness by noticing the small talk you have with friends or co-workers and learn to identify how each person makes you feel and why. When you are able to accurately connect emotions and be honest about your strengths and limitations, you can communicate the right things in any situation.
So when your aunt pesters you about why you are not dating anyone at Christmas dinner, you can respond confidently and honestly that you feel rushing to partner with someone is not a priority but still assure her that you are open-minded and optimistic. By being able to identify your own internal experience and explain the triggers for negative ones, you can avoid taking anything too personally.
2. Prevent Over-indulgence
While the holidays are the perfect excuse to splurge on activities, food, and gifts, we sometimes go overboard. Having the ability to self-regulate your feelings and impulses is key to striking balance between extravagance and deprivation.
Get a head start on setting limits to your eating, boozing, and spending by creating a few non-negotiable rules. Even if it is as simple as eating only one portion of desserts each day or keeping gifts under $X, you can let yourself enjoy your experiences but also know that you are capping them at a healthy ceiling. Make sure to set realistic rules and to have either a person or an application hold you accountable. Set your particular budget for Mint.com for that month and or take a picture of the portion of dessert you eat every day.
Self-regulation is an aspect of emotional intelligence that allows some of the best leaders and creators to live extraordinary lives and still frame them within their chosen parameters.
3. If All Fails, Empathize
One of the best emotionally intelligent ways to have a meaningful holiday season is to practice empathy. The ability to understand the emotions and non-verbal cues of those around you can greatly enhance your connection and communication.
With empathy, you can develop deeper and more effective relationships with everyone you interact with. So whether you are nervously attending your partner’s family’s cultural dinner or fighting a long line at the store, being empathetic bridges gaps and allows us to relate instead of react. Practice empathy by approaching every person with a smile and starting the conversation with a compliment. By being slower to judge and faster to connect, you will open up space for understanding with loved ones and strangers.
We are all happier and healthier when we channel our emotional intelligence. How will you keep calm this holiday?
Photo: allthecolor via Flickr; Austin McGee via Flickr