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What is EQ and how do we increase it

(As published in 'Expat women')

Emotional intelligence is defined as the way to perceive and interpret emotions.  Being able to name and regulate emotions to enhance your personal growth intellectually and emotional. Not raising your EQ will not only effect your mental health but your physical health too. Relationships and prosperity will also be effected by the level of your EQ.  

EQ is simply the other side of IQ, IQ being about the brain and EQ being about the emotions.

The benefits of increasing your EQ are not only important in life but as an expat with the challenges you face each day, it sets a strong foundation for dealing with the changes in life and culture that get thrown at you.  It helps with the following.

*Enables you to make better decisions 

*Increases ability to communicate well, through a calmer and clearer mind

*Able to cope better with daily struggles of life

*Neutralise conflicts (which we all know language and cultural differences often bring.)

*Your empathy is increased and therefore making new friends is made easier.

There are generally four key skills around Emotional intelligence to be aware of when you are looking at increasing your EQ.

Self awareness - This is where you are able to name and recognise your emotions including the effect that they have on you in your physical being.

Self management - This is being able to control those emotions so that they don’t take control of your actions. Those moments where you are not able to recognise the emotion and so it takes hold of your being.  Good self management is not holding back emotions but recognising them.

Social awareness - Being able to understand what people around you are feeling as well as their concerns and needs is a huge benefit to growing relationships but is also where you are able to read situations and manage those moments in a positive way, even when they might not be that pleasant. 

Relationship management - In many ways once you have the above this fourth skills falls into place on its own.  Having the ability to build and maintain strong relationships is key to judging situations and the actions you take.  You are able to at this stage inspire others and generally be a great team player. 

I am sure you will agree our EQ is pretty important and the great news is we can raise our EQ with great ease.

Firstly, recognising your negative emotions.  Recognise, accept and then release is my motto.  It is a simple practice, however needs you to own the emotion, sometimes terrifying to start with but actually with very little practice becomes the best tool you will ever use.  Now there are many techniques for how to do this.  For now let me just suggest that you look at what caused the negative emotion.  We are often afraid to tackle the issue.  But time spent noticing your emotions is hugely important so that you are then able to change the state.  I of course have put this into a summary and there are hundreds of ways to change state, it's what works for you.  Its worth googling ABCDE theory or some NLP techniques are also brilliant for this. 

Using distraction techniques - Now this is great once you have accepted and noticed the emotion.  Sometimes you just need a distraction.  To do something, be around someone that helps you to move out of the negative state. Find your distraction.

Positive affirmations - This is a great one, feeding your brain with nothing but positive affirmations about yourself or simply 'You tube' will supply you with loads of inspiration for this too.  Do your own list when you feel good, or ask your friends and family to tell you something good about yourself, write them all down.  Then when negative emotions come upon you, read out your own affirmations and feel good statements. 

Listening to stories – Watching TED talks and other stories that invoke us to recognise  feelings, but most of all being able to empathise is hugely important in raising EQ.

Mindfulness, mediation and acupuncture - These are all things that if you are able to make part of your life will not only increase EQ but also help in so many other parts of your life and I bring up in following articles about how mindfulness and mediation are so important to gain our happiness and clarity. 

I hope this has been of help and watch this space for following articles on EQ and all manner of expat self help issues.