You might feel uncomfortable when you read or hear that we must work on our emotional intelligence to improve our leadership.
I can ‘t blame you for this!
Some culture and education tended (and still tend), to avoid showing feelings, resulting in our own feelings’ judgment.
However, when you look at research[i], it is clear that accepting our feelings, rather than avoiding them increases our mental health. And even health in general.
In fact, the more you accept negative feelings, the less negative you feel.
Beware I am not covering depressive or more severe states in this article. I highly recommend you get psychologist help if you are in this case.
The benefits of psychological health in the organization.
It is quite obvious but people who are psychologically healthy are more likely to be in a good state to create positive bounds with others and foster great collaboration.
Better knowing about our feelings and how to accept them, also helps increase empathy and better listening.
When you want to increase the level of collaboration and move to a solution focused environment, it becomes critical to improve emotional intelligence skills.
How to get familiar with your feelings?
Before you can accept your feelings, you must learn to know them, as a pre-requisite.
The first tip is to get more familiar with feelings vocabulary and name the feeling when it arises.
What also makes a difference is to not stop at the seven basic emotions (Anger, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise, Contempt, and happiness) and be curious about knowing all their flavors.
You can also train to identify other’s emotions based on their facial expression (like here).
Once you are more at ease with this first step, you can move to more acceptance.
How to accept your negative feelings?
Accepting your feelings means you put yourself in observer mode.
Rather than avoiding the feeling (eg. scrolling on social media, overeating, binge watching TV, etc.) or pushing them away (eg. yelling at others, slamming a door, etc.) you are stepping back.
First, name the feeling that seems the most accurate, whether to yourself or to someone else.
Then, look into your body sensations: how does the feeling look like? Describe the sensation as an observer.
It might not be comfortable at first, but you will quickly realize this feeling is “just” a sensation in your body. In itself, it is harmful.
The more you will do this, the less negative emotions you will feel longer term. And you’ll be better at ease with interactions.
Once the “crisis” is over
Emotions are messengers. They teach us that one of our needs is not met, or a boundary is crossed.
Consider feelings as signals to learn about yourself.
Once you have accepted the feeling, ask yourself what triggered it.
• Did you feel one of your need threatened? If so, what was it?
• Which value or boundary wasn’t respected? create a list of those, as it might be very useful to express that next time, and find solutions to overcome the “threat”.
Emotional Intelligence is not just a coach or psychological trend: it is a tool to help you know yourself better, have your needs met as much as possible and improve your health overall.
To go further:
If there was one thing you would like to try out from this post, what would it be?
How are you going to commit on it and really try for yourself?
The Psychological Health Benefits of Accepting Negative Emotions and Thoughts: Laboratory, Diary, and Longitudinal Evidence
Brett Q. Ford, Phoebe Lam, Oliver P. John and Iris B. Mauss