Difficulties at work, tight deadlines, stressful office relations – there`s nothing new about that, right? However, modern way of living turned our last sanctuary – our private life, especially social aspects of it – into a new battle arena. Juggling between family, friends, partner and personal time has never been more exhausting, since the standards went up so high that nothing but maximum commitment in every field is no longer acceptable. And the problem is pretty obvious – not a single person in the world is capable to do so!
Still it seems that some people manage to cope with these problems quite successfully. Their reality is not different from anyone else`s: what really makes the difference is their attitude towards it. And according to scientists, they can attribute it to their EI – emotional intelligence. EI was introduced by Peter Salovey (Yale University) and John D. Mayer (University of New Hampshire) in 1990 in their article “Emotional intelligence”, which is recognized by scientific community as the very first publication on this subject.
Studies show that our EI is strongly connected with our life satisfaction, marital happiness and mental stability (Extremera & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2005; Eslami, Hasanzadeh, & Jamshidi, 2014; Shabani, Hassan, Ahmad, & Baba, 2010).
John D.Mayer, Peter Salovey and David R.Caruso EI model is based on four main branches: (a) to perceive emotions in oneself and others accurately, (b) to use emotions to facilitate thinking, (c) to understand emotions, emotional language, and the signals conveyed by emotions, and (d) to manage emotions so as to attain specific goals. They are used as a foundation of following 4 steps in reaching harmony in our private lives.
- KNOW YOURSELF: It is crucial to accept your own feelings, desires, strengths and weaknesses and behave in accordance with these insights. By taking actions that are products of your authentic states, you will be spared from inner conflicts that could disrupt your emotional stability. Sometimes it is not so easy to do: for example, you might be in a relationship with a great person, but still feel that he/she is not right for you. In that case, you need to reexamine what you actually feel, and base your further emotional decisions on your genuine emotions. The other thing that is absolutely necessary is to respect your own limits in order to avoid emotional burnout. Let`s face it, even though it is difficult to reject the phone call from your always-in-trouble friend, are you sure that you are capable to listen him/her out after your exhausting day? If you sometimes take time to recharge your `batteries`, it will not make you less of a friend; contrary, it will give you back the energy to dedicate yourself to your close others and consequently strengthen your personal relationships.
- MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS: Once you (re)connect with your emotions and learn how to cope with stress, you will also become able to manage your emotional states in a more productive way. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with anger or sadness, you will be able to accept them, process it and save your energy for more important aspects of life. For example, by accepting how bad you feel because of spiteful comments of your in-laws, you will be able to reveal your anger as a simple feeling of injustice and even start a constructive conversation on why this situation has started in a first place. Marshmallow experiment (Mischel, Ebbesen, & Raskoff Zeiss, 1972) is a magnificent example on how important it is to control your emotions instead of letting them control you: children who had been able to handle their impulses at an early age showed higher levels of emotional stability and self-confidence even 14 years later after the experiment!
- UNDERSTAND CLOSE OTHERS: Latest discoveries in area of neurology showed that our brain is designed to connect with other human beings. No man is an island — it is impossible to reach your own emotional serenity while being indifferent to emotional states of close others. Negative feelings that are coming from the people around you are most often just a cry for help: instead of arguing with apparently nervous friend, you can respond to his/her unkind tone by asking if they have some concern to share with you. And if they do, be a good listener and try to involve yourself in resolving their situation. Empathy is the key: showing compassion for others will enrich you as a person as well.
- IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH CLOSE OTHERS: By understanding other people`s feelings as well as your own, you will build up your relations with close others and significantly improve social aspects of your life. Emotional awareness will help you to communicate better, without hidden meanings or misinterpretations. It will also help you avoid getting into social conflicts: if you know why your partner is mad or afraid, you will not react in a hostile manner. Instead, you will be capable to show your support to him/her, which will also have positive impact on his/her emotional status. Successful handling of emotional relations around you is essential competence for getting stress out of your private life.
Let these four steps be your guidance in managing private aspects of life: soon, you will regain your personal oasis away from business worries and other daily struggles.
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By Marina Musatova, Psy.D. and Katarina Mijatovic, MSc.
Eslami, A., Hasanzadeh, A., & Jamshidi, F. (2014). The relationship between emotional intelligence health and marital satisfaction: A comparative study. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 3, p.24.
Extremera, N., & Fernandez-Berrocal, P. (2005). Perceived emotional intelligence and life satisfaction: Predictive and incremental validity using the Trait Meta-Mood Scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 937-948.
Goleman, D. (2006). Social Intelligence: The New Science of Social Relationships. NY: Bantam Books.
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2002). Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston: Harward Business Press.
Mayer, John D., Salovey, P., Caruso, David R. (2008), Emotional Intelligence. New Ability or Eclectic Traits? American Psychologist Vol. 63, No. 6, 503–517.
Mischel, W., Ebbesen, E. B., & Raskoff Zeiss, A. (1972). Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 21 (2), 204–218.
Shabani, J., Hassan, S., Ahmad, A., & Baba, M. (2010). Exploring the Relationship of Emotional Intelligence with Mental Health among Early Adolescents. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 2, 2, 209-216.