A 3-Step Exercise for Identifying Your Emotions

Emotional intelligence starts with understanding what’s going on inside yourself

Darius Foroux
Forge
Published in
3 min readNov 14, 2019

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A close-up photo of a woman clasping her hands over her chest.
Photo: fstop123/E+/Getty

DoDo you ever feel misunderstood or underappreciated at work? Do you have a boss who doesn’t ever seem to notice the extra effort you bring to every project? A client who makes urgent demands during off hours or regularly shoots down your ideas?

In situations like these that feel out of your control, changing the way you work probably isn’t the answer. Instead, you might be better off changing the way you relate to and connect with the people around you. Try to understand that difficult boss. Build a rapport with that fussy client. And the way to do that is by cultivating your emotional intelligence.

John Mayer, a psychologist at the University of New Hampshire and one of the leading researchers on emotional intelligence, describes it as “the capacity to reason about emotions and emotional information, and of emotions to enhance thought.” Higher emotional intelligence is related to increased mental and physical health, greater resilience, and stronger personal relationships.

In other words, success isn’t all about IQ tests or other quantitative metrics. If you want to achieve anything meaningful, you must be able to work with other people. From that perspective, emotional intelligence is an essential skill.

But before you can identify other people’s emotions, you must learn to understand your own. Here’s how.

Identify your emotions

Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, argued in his book that we might better understand the mind as two minds: “one that thinks and one that feels.”

To develop my mind that feels, I like to write about my daily emotions in my journal, and reflect on what triggers those emotions. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to do the same:

  • What are you feeling in different situations?
  • Do you get angry when you receive criticism?
  • Do you feel sad when people ignore you?
  • Do you freeze when you’re put on the spot?

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Darius Foroux
Forge
Writer for

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