13 Tips to Become More Emotionally Intelligent in Recovery

Developing your emotional intelligence in recovery can help you thrive in every aspect of your life. This skill increases your resilience in the world. It helps you face challenges and balance the highs and lows of recovery. With emotional intelligence, you feel your feelings without getting trapped by them. You become able to look at your internal strife instead of ignoring it or trying to escape it. Being emotionally intelligent allows you to make the most out of life.

There are several components of emotional intelligence. These tips to become more emotionally intelligent in recovery are organized within the different categories.

At Renewal Lodge we teach you more than how to get sober. We retrain your brain so you can stay sober. Discover Emotional Intelligence in Recovery Today!

Here are 13 Tips to Become More Emotionally Intelligent in Recovery

1. Steps to Enhance Self-Awareness

The first step for improving your emotional intelligence is to take a deep, honest look at yourself. Our minds trick us into believing things about ourselves and the world that aren’t true or realistic. We are often blinded to our most authentic desires, motivations and fears.

Self-awareness can be tough to develop because it requires you to acknowledge your flaws. However, in seeing your flaws, you also gain perspective on your challenges and become clear on your strengths.

2. Notice Without Judging

Identifying how you feel without judging it helps you observe yourself without feeling triggered, discouraged or ashamed. Practice this by observing objects in your environment. For example, you can easily make the statement “The blue cup is on the counter” without judgment. Identify the things around you and notice how you feel as you make these objective statements to yourself.

3. Name Your Feelings

Retain that feeling as you identify an emotion. Use the following questions to help you become more aware of your emotions:

  • Where do I feel uncomfortable in my body?
  • What is the physical sensation?
  • What words are coming to mind about the way that you feel?
  • Can you name the emotion?

When you can identify your feelings, you can understand where you’re starting from. This helps you choose the best strategies for regulating your emotions.

Naming an emotion also helps you accept it. It gets you out of the trap of overthinking. When your discomfort has a label, you can use strategies to deal with it.

4. Examine Your Behavior

As you become more aware of your feelings and can label them, look at your behavior. Examine the links between your sensations, emotions and actions. When you behave in a positive manner, ask yourself what you were feeling that elicited that response. What was the outcome?

When you behave in an undesirable way, such as lashing out at a friend, investigate the sensations and feelings behind the action. What was the outcome? What coping mechanisms could you have used to react more favorably?

5. Keys to Self-Regulation

Emotional intelligence means that you’re not controlled by your feelings. You experience a full range of emotions without reacting impulsively to them. Self-regulation allows your feelings to pass through you without causing rash behavior, mood swings or out-of-control thoughts.

6. Observe the Feeling

According to the 90-second rule, the chemical reactions that generate an emotion only take 90 seconds to flow through your body. However, you can re-trigger the chemical reaction by choosing to stay in that emotional cycle. The primary way that people get stuck in an emotion is by getting caught in a thought loop.

Instead of focusing on what you’re thinking, notice the feeling in your body. After you have identified an emotion and its associated sensations in your body, practice watching the feelings as they move through your body.

7. Hone Your Practices

Mindfulness, yoga, breathing and meditation help you regulate your responses to strong feelings. Practicing these techniques helps you stay calm and keep your mind on your priorities. Expressing yourself through a hobby or creative endeavor also enhances your emotional intelligence.

8. Ways to Develop Empathy and Improve Your Social Skills

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Developing this skill allows you to be more compassionate toward yourself and others. In turn, you’ll build strong relationships that support you in recovery.

9. Listen

Listening more than you talk is an excellent way to learn more about what others are feeling. Instead of making assumptions, allow others to express themselves honestly. If you feel uncomfortable emotions as you listen to others, label them. Ask questions about how your friends and loved ones feel in certain situations. You’ll learn a lot about emotions that you can integrate into your life.

10. Focus on Similarities

It’s easy to compare ourselves with others. This is especially true when you’re working on self-development. But concentrating on differences creates a wall between people and hinders your empathy. As you notice others’ individuality, explore the ways in which they’re similar to you. You’ll build the opportunity for genuine connection.

11. Motivation Tips

Motivation is an essential element of emotional intelligence that cycles back to self-awareness. To be motivated, you need to recognize your innermost desires and access deeper meaning. Enhancing your motivation helps you stay stable in the face of surface-level emotions. You’ll work toward a fulfilling, purposeful life and be less likely to veer off track.

12. Find Your Why

Going through life’s motions on autopilot isn’t as motivating as pushing yourself to express your purpose. Your addiction treatment team will help you discover your reasons for initiating recovery, staying sober and building a life that you love. Remembering these reasons helps you stay motivated in your healing journey.

13. Make a Commitment

Make commitments to yourself as you set goals. You don’t have to commit to long-term endeavors. Start by making a commitment to your health. From there, you can set intentions to take small, progressive steps.

Perhaps you can’t commit to exercising every day, but you can start your mornings by stretching in bed. Maybe overhauling your diet isn’t in the cards right now, but you can eat a piece of fruit with breakfast.

These small commitments reestablish your choice to focus on yourself every day. They also build your confidence so that you expand your capabilities as you grow.

Developing your emotional intelligence at Renewal Lodge helps you create the foundation that you need for a successful recovery. Emotional intelligence is a skill that you’ll work on throughout your life. The more you practice these tips to become more emotionally intelligent in recovery, the more robust this skill will become.

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Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness
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