What Are the 5 Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a guiding force that helps you succeed in all areas of life. To better understand how it can help with your mental health and addiction recovery, it’s important to recognize the 5 components of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence Component 1: Self-Awareness

People often feel overcome with emotions. Feelings can take control over you, guiding your thoughts, behaviors and relationships. Without self-awareness, the anger that the car alarm generates might lead you to respond with adverse behaviors, such as lashing out at your roommate.

You don’t have to let your emotions dominate you. But before you can change anything, you need to become aware of your underlying feelings. If you can’t identify what’s going on emotionally, you won’t be able to take the next steps toward developing emotional intelligence skills.

Self-awareness is the clear perception of multiple aspects of your personality, including the ability to name and understand your emotions. It also involves recognizing how your actions and behaviors affect others, and vice versa.

Developing self-awareness is the first step in enhancing your emotional intelligence. We work on this continually at Renewal Lodge.

We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.

Signs of Low Self-Awareness Emotional Intelligence Skills

A lack of self-awareness can look like:

  • Misinterpreting your emotional reactions
  • Responding to situations in inappropriate or incongruent ways
  • Having intense emotional outbursts
  • Blaming other people or substances for your problems
  • Defensiveness
  • Criticizing others
  • Feelings of isolation and a sense that others don’t relate to you
  • Failing to take accountability for your actions

How to Improve Your Self-Awareness

Some ways to develop the self-awareness component of emotional intelligence include:

  • Keeping a journal
  • Reflecting on past behaviors
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Practicing open communication with a counselor or therapist
  • Learning the vocabulary to describe your emotions
  • Watching your thoughts without judging them
  • Recognizing destructive self-talk

Emotional Intelligence Component 2: Self-Regulation

The self-regulation component of emotional intelligence means that you express your emotions in a healthy way. Avoiding or blocking your feelings isn’t the answer. When you don’t process your feelings, you can end up exacerbating the negative emotions.

Self-regulation as an emotional intelligence skill allows you to take your power back. Instead of letting your emotions control you, you can make conscious decisions about how you will react to them.

Signs of Deficient Self-Regulation Emotional Intelligence Skills

Some signs that you could work on your self-regulation emotional intelligence skills include:

  • Impulsive reactions or outbursts that are disproportionate to the trigger
  • Impatience and low tolerance to frustration
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Difficulty regulating physical reactions to emotions, such as rapid heart rate
  • Trouble with cognition in the face of powerful emotions
  • Poor social adjustment

How to Improve Your Self-Regulation Skills

You can enhance your self-regulation skills with the following approaches:

  • Learn coping strategies for managing emotions
  • Practice distress tolerance
  • Work with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques
  • Identify and reduce triggers
  • Redirect your attention
  • Practice positive reframing

Emotional Intelligence Component 3: Social Skills

When you work on the other components of emotional intelligence, you’ll likely notice that your relationships improve. Someone with the strong emotional intelligence skills of self-awareness and self-regulation is often easy to be around. They don’t react impulsively, and they’re likely to have positive interactions with people.

Developing your emotional intelligence improves your social skills. Conversely, improving your social skills will further enhance your emotional intelligence. You’ll create meaningful relationships, which support you in your addiction recovery.

Signs of Poor Social Skills

People with poor social skills may have the following traits:

  • Relationship problems
  • Few friends
  • Difficulty connecting with others
  • Misunderstanding sarcasm or humor
  • Talking too much or interrupting frequently
  • Inappropriate sharing
  • Withdrawing from conversations

How to Improve Your Social Skills

You can improve your emotional intelligence social skills in the following ways:

  • Learning and practicing active listening
  • Maintaining appropriate eye contact
  • Awareness of body language
  • Learning how to respond appropriately to keep a conversation going
  • Role-playing social situations with a therapist

Emotional Intelligence Component 4: Empathy

Once you have become more familiar with your own emotions, you’ll be able to understand how other people respond to their emotions. This helps you develop empathy, which is the ability to see a situation from someone else’s perspective.

Combined with the other emotional intelligence skills, empathy also helps you respond appropriately when those around you are experiencing big emotions. Empathy helps you have healthy interactions with others, navigate conflict, make decisions and maintain your boundaries.

Signs of Low Empathy Emotional Intelligence Skills

Some signs that you could build your emotional intelligence empathy skills include:

  • Difficulty evaluating the effects of your actions
  • Being judgmental of others
  • Thinking others are too sensitive
  • Believing you’re always right
  • Failing to maintain a conversation if there is a disagreement
  • Indifference to other people’s celebrations or hardships

How to Improve Your Empathy

Improving empathy in emotional intelligence involves the following:

  • Observe others with a non-judgmental, open mind
  • Gain more experiences
  • Try new things
  • Volunteer or join a shared cause
  • Practice communication skills
  • Make yourself vulnerable in safe settings

Emotional Intelligence Component 5: Motivation

Motivation is what gives you the impetus to work on all of these emotional intelligence components. It helps you take each day at a time and progress in your addiction recovery.

People with high emotional intelligence tend to have strong intrinsic motivation. This means that they’re inspired by internal factors, such as a flow state or the achievement of a personal goal. Working on the emotional intelligence component of motivation helps you stay focused in the face of adversity. It allows you to overcome challenges, take advantage of opportunities and stay sober even when it’s hard.

Signs of Low Motivation Emotional Intelligence Skills

Low motivation could be a factor in your emotional intelligence if the following are true:

  • Difficulty setting or achieving goals
  • Poor follow-through
  • Low commitment
  • Pessimism
  • Rigidity
  • Not living up to your potential

How to Improve Your Motivation

Build motivation and enhance your emotional intelligence by using the following methods:

  • Have an accountability partner or therapist help you set goals
  • Celebrate small wins
  • Challenge yourself moderately
  • Do something new every day
  • Set up a routine that creates positive momentum for your day
  • Do something small and consistent every day

Developing emotional intelligence skills doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing practice that involves honesty, facing fears, mindfulness, communication and openness to change. At Renewal Lodge, we are here to help you develop all aspects of your emotional intelligence. With enhanced emotional intelligence skills, you will feel more confident, fulfilled, expressive and purposeful. You’ll be able to ride the waves of life instead of letting them crash over you.

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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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